Interview

An Efficiency Game Changer

H.K. Mishra, Acting Director, ERDA (Electrical Research and Development Association)

The government has announced several initiatives to revive the power sector since the time has come into power. Have these initiatives started delivering?
The major Power Sector initiatives, this government has taken after coming into power, are Ujwal Bharat initiative with an objective of 24×7 affordable environment friendly power for all. This includes initiatives like: Power sector reform like UDAY scheme; DDUGJY programme for un-electrified village electrification; higher growth in coal production; energy efficient LED lamp distribution under UJALA scheme for demand side management; 175 GW of renewable power generation by 2022; and recently announced Saubhagya scheme for electrification of all households.

Out of these initiatives, UDAY scheme has resulted in substantial reduction in interest outflow on loan taken by the discoms thus giving an initial relief to the stressed discoms and allowing them an opportunity to invest in new infrastructure. However, if this initial interest reduction is not followed up by a substantial AT&C loss reduction, the relief would be short lived.

DDUGJY is quite a success. Its progress is also meticulously monitored and this programme is expected to meet its target mostly by 2019. This programme, if successfully implemented, will give a great fillip to rural industries, agriculture and quality of life of the rural people.

Coal production has improved significantly but lower growth of thermal power plants has resulted in a glut in the coal demand.
LED lamp distribution under UJALA scheme is also a success for demand side load management and helped various SMEs to enter into the LED business eco-system. This success has encouraged the government to go for widening the scope of energy efficient equipment distribution to ceiling fans, agricultural motors etc.

Addition of renewable energy into the system is vigorously followed up and has resulted in significant drop in bidding tariffs of these blocks in auction. However, un-sustainable tariffs and unbalanced integration of renewable power may create long term problems in transmission and long term sustainability of the sector.

The government has also issued quality control order for distribution transformer, CRGO steel for transformer core, induction motors and quality control order on smart meters, plugs and sockets, solar PV panels, low voltage switchgear etc. are in the offing.

The government has also initiated Compulsory Registration Scheme (BIS-CRS scheme) for monitoring safety and quality of various electronics equipment used in household and office by general public. Surveillance testing of these equipment has also ensured supply of quality products in the market.

How do you look at the evolving role of ERDA in this context?
ERDA is fully committed to the UJWAL Bharat mission of the Government of India. ERDA is actively involved in the third-party inspection of supplied material and monitoring the quality of work executed at site as well as working as a project management agency for DDUGJY scheme for several discoms. ERDA is also involved in the regional level and national level quality monitoring under these schemes for other discoms.

ERDA was also partially involved in checking and certifying the quality of LED lamps distributed under UJALA scheme. ERDA is also geared up for evaluation of energy efficient ceiling fans and induction motors at its laboratory.

ERDA tests about 75 per cent of total distribution transformers tested in India as per IS: 1180 under the quality control order promulgated recently. ERDA is also geared up to play a major role in testing of plugs and sockets, smart energy meters, low voltage switchgear etc. when these orders will be fully implemented.

ERDA engineers and scientists also contribute in standard formulation of various sunrise sectors like smart meters and development of many new technologies like energy efficient motors E4/E5.

Could you single out one particular initiative that will change the game in 2017?
The Indian government is very much committed towards the quality and energy efficiency of electrical equipment used in domestic sector as well as in distribution sector. Strict implementation of energy efficiency norms through quality control order for energy efficient motors, smart energy meters etc. will prove to be a game changer towards improvement of electrical system in the country.

The government’s determination on deployment of 100 per cent electrical vehicles by 2030 will also be a game changer in the total electrical sector in future.

What are the major changes observed during the past one year as far as improving the health of the industry is concerned?
Industry as a whole has shifted towards manufacturing of more energy efficient and quality product which is a major improvement seen in the market. Lighting industry has significantly moved towards LED lights. Motor industry is also poised to move towards more energy efficient IE-2 and IE-3 class motors instead of IE-1 class motors manufactured in the past.

Power generation has shifted towards renewable sector, predominantly towards solar PV power generation from its traditional coal based thermal power plants. Though this has opened many opportunities in the solar PV sector but most of the solar cells and panels are still imported. Whereas the more indigenous thermal power plant equipment manufacturing is in a subdued situation due to stalling of many forthcoming thermal power plant project. So
overall the thermal power sector is stagnating whereas the renewable power sector, mainly the solar PV sector is booming.

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