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Home » Opinion » Outdated Substations in India cause over 20,000 deaths

Outdated Substations in India cause over 20,000 deaths

May 6, 2023 12:47 pm

Outdated Substations in India cause over 20,000 deaths
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This article explores the use of advanced technology to improve the safety and reliability of power supply in India’s substation design. It discusses the need for modernisation and the benefits of incorporating new technologies such as harmonic relays, data logging, GIS technology, and SCADA control.

Safety is a crucial factor that must be considered in substation design. Unfortunately, India has experienced numerous accidents resulting in approximately 20,000 electrocution and electrofusion-related deaths due to outdated designs from the 1980s. People need to know which ignitor to operate and which data to switch on, and even the earthing system is designed based on outdated standards. However, using the software, we can now provide substation designs and review earthing annually.

Electronic components in substation design have led to a significant generation of harmonic, which requires harmonic relays that operate and communicate. A data logging system is also necessary to analyse the harmonic generated. In addition, a communication system can provide fair monitoring of substation equipment. GIS technology can help build 2×12.5 MVA and 2×15 MVA 60 MVA transformer substations within 800 square meters. The panels can be placed on duplex structures on the ground floor, with 33 KV by 11 KV on the first floor, LT structures on the third floor, and offices and shopping complexes on the fourth and fifth floors. We can incorporate downstream facilities into substations, and battery and solar storage are also possible.

Implementing advanced technologies
The implementation of such advanced technology can make substations available as a service. We can place a 33 by 11 KV substation at the corner points and prime real estate locations in every city. We can give plans to state governments to build 5-10 substations, which can be used for commercial purposes to reduce manual intervention and operate through a command and control room, ensuring safety and improving the quality of power.

Using SCADA control can eliminate manual operations and reduce the need for a control room. The command from the control room can be used for self-healing/filling breakers and balancing the load of transformers. The technology for such advancements exists, but our mindset still needs to follow updated drawings from the 1980s. Sensitisation of the government and utilities is necessary to reduce the space requirement, save human life, improve power quality, eliminate harmonics to reduce technical losses and use communication technologies.

Cost-effectiveness
Although the cost of such technology may not be affordable for utilities, investors can propose using the substation and paying monthly, as they have done in the solar and wind industry. With the adaptation of such technology, costs will reduce. The use of solar and battery will become a significant part of the distribution system across the country.

Addressing substation design aesthetics and power safety
Along with safety and aesthetics, supply reliability is crucial, and the upstream network up to the 132 KV or 60 KV or 220 KV Substation needs to be made underground. The government of India is putting a lot of money into this project, and the old effects of 33 by 11 substations can be monetised. A case study in Ludhiana found that a 66 by 11 KV substation was using almost two acres of land, and a real estate developer proposed to not only redesign the substation but also provide double capacity to the electricity company and pay the government of Punjab some 10-20 crore rupees as a premium. This demonstrates the potential for all power companies and industries to have a win-win situation in power distribution and products.

(Excerpts of this article have been taken from Rajiv Goel’s submission given during EPR’s Power Talk on Next Generation Power Substation this April)

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