Augmenting capacity to cope with increased power demand

One of the biggest tasks ahead for Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) is to ensure an adequate transmission network to evacuate power from the generation stations as well as to meet the growing energy needs of the state. Of late, the transco has been focusing on augmenting and strengthening its transmission network in urban areas. The increased focus on the urban transmission network has been driven mainly by the recent power cuts being faced in Bengaluru because of technical glitches in the transmission network.

Power Line takes a look at KPTCL’s existing infrastructure, operational and financial performance as well as its future plans to meet the state’s energy needs…

Existing infrastructure

Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, KPTCL’s transmission line length at the 66 kV and above level grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.9 per cent to reach 34,251 ckt. km, with the line length at the 400 kV level recording the highest growth (6.3 per cent). Meanwhile, on a year-on-year basis, the utility’s transmission line length grew at 2.9 per cent in 2015-16. As of March 2016, KPTCL had 32 per cent of the line length at the 220 kV level (10,949 ckt. km), around 30 per cent each at the 110 kV (10,194 ckt. km) and the 66 kV (10,426 ckt. km) levels. The company also owns 8,700 ckt. km of 33 kV lines.

Meanwhile, between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the number of substations operated by the company grew at a CAGR of 2.8 per cent, with the highest growth (3.8 per cent) recorded at the 110 kV level. On a year-on-year basis, the utility’s substation base recorded an increase of 2.8 per cent, reaching 1,088. Voltage-wise, as of March 2016, the majority (around 55 per cent – 602 substations) of the company’s substations were at the 66 kV level, followed by 110 kV substations (35 per cent – 385 substations). In addition, KPTCL operates 345 substations at the 33 kV level.

As far as transformer capacity is concerned, as of March 2015, KPTCL’s total substation capacity stood at 52,082 MVA, with around 40 per cent of the capacity at the 220 kV level (20,683 MVA), followed by 28 per cent at the 66 kV level (14,778 MVA). Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, its substation capacity grew at a CAGR of 7 per cent, with the capacity at the 220 kV level recording the highest growth at 8.4 per cent.

As of March 2015, the utility operated 2,299 transformers, growing at a CAGR of 5 per cent from 1,988 transformers in 2010-11. Further, in 2014-15, KPTCL’s capacitor base stood at 5,659 MVAr, marking an increase of 3.2 per cent over 5,483 MVAr in the previous year.

Operational and financial performance

In the recent past, the company has recorded a noteworthy financial performance. Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, KPTCL’s total income grew at 13.3 per cent to reach Rs 23.9 billion from Rs 14.5 billion. In tandem, its total expenditure grew at a CAGR of 10.2 per cent from Rs 14.54 billion to Rs 21.4 billion. During the same period, its net profit grew at over 200 per cent from Rs 8.7 million to Rs 791.7 million. Moreover, over the years, KPTCL has recorded a steady decline in its transmission losses. In 2014-15, the company’s losses stood at 3.7 per cent, as against 3.8 per cent in 2010-11. Besides, the company maintained high transmission availability in 2014-15, at 99.5 per cent, slightly over the availability level of 99.8 per cent in 2013-14.

Future plans

KPTCL has chalked out an ambitious growth plan to meet the increasing power demand (mainly of its urban population) and to augment the power evacuation capacity in the state. The utility will focus primarily on establishing new links between the upcoming (as well as the existing) conventional and renewable energy plants, and the load centres, as well as strengthening the existing transmission network.

Between 2016-17 and 2019-20, the company plans to add 3,600 ckt. km of transmission line length across all voltage levels, with the majority (over 40 per cent) of the addition (1,470 ckt. km) at the 400 kV level. It plans to add 1,120 ckt. km in 2016-17, 840 ckt. km in 2017-18, and 820 ckt. km each in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

With regard to substation capacity, between 2016-17 and 2019-20, KPTCL plans to add 7,900 MVA across all voltage levels. Of this, the majority (over 40 per cent of the substation capacity (3,500 MVA) is planned at the 400 kV level, followed by around 30 per cent of capacity (2,400 MVA) at the 220 kV level. The utility plans to add 1,100 MVA in 2016-17, 4,600 MVA in 2017-18, and 1,100 MVA each in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

The company has planned a capital expenditure of Rs 80 billion for the period 2016-17 to 2019-20, with Rs 20 billion each year.

One of KPTCL’s key focus areas is setting up adequate transmission capacity to meet the power demand in urban areas. Bengaluru, which accounts for around 25 per cent of the state’s power consumption, has been reportedly witnessing a 15 per cent annual increase in its power demand. In order to meet the city’s growing demand, KPTCL has recently announced a number of measures. These include the strengthening of the existing single circuit 220 kV lines to double circuit lines, clearing hurdles in the North-South corridor to transmit power to Bengaluru from North Karnataka, and adding another 220 kV line dedicated to Bengaluru. In addition, the company has announced its plans to set up gas-insulated switchgear substations in areas like ITI, Koramangala, Kumbalgodu and Manyata Tech Park in the city. It will also focus on improving the transmission network in the outskirts of the city.

Apart from Bengaluru, KPTCL plans to increase capacity in Tier II cities and major towns in the state. This move is likely to improve the power supply scenario and help ease the power transmission network, especially for meeting peak hour electricity demand.

In sum, given the state’s growing energy demand, KPTCL’s measures to strengthen the existing transmission network are steps in the right direction. This would also offer adequate evacuation capacity for the upcoming renewable energy projects in the state. Besides, the company’s increased focus on improving transmission in urban areas augurs well for the state, which is known for its information technology sector.


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