Editorial August 2019

The transmission and distribution segments, which are fundamental to the power sector’s performance, are gearing up for growth and transformation.

In the distribution segment, utilities are taking a host of new initiatives for revamping their networks. Under the Integrated Power Development Scheme, which targets urban power system strengthening, discoms are not only working on capacity augmentation but also adopting a number of new technologies like underground cabling, ERP and GIS. Meanwhile, under the ambitious UDAY and Smart Meter National Programme, a complete switch to smart meters is being targeted. Smart grid technology deployment is also expected to gain traction with the commissioning of the 11 smart grid pilots. Apart from infrastructure upgrades, the segments would be looking at policy changes. The government is reportedly reworking UDAY, which would make financial assistance conditional upon loss reduction. New power tariff norms are also on the anvil.

At the transmission level, with renewable energy coming online at a record pace, the creation of a robust interstate and intra-state transmission system is being undertaken, with initiatives including green energy corridors, transmission systems for renewable energy zones, as well as renewable energy management centres. Utilities are investing heavily in making the grid smarter, more stable and secure with energy storage pilot projects, and real-time monitoring technologies like phasor measurement units, HVDC systems, voltage transformers and superconductors.

These segments, however, face a number of significant challenges, the resolution of which will require new strategies and approaches. For instance, while access to power has been achieved in distribution, quality and reliable power supply is still a distant reality. Moreover, despite the impetus given to smart metering, on-the-ground progress remains slow (only 4 per cent of the target). High aggregate technical and commercial losses continue to weigh down heavily on the sector. Further, unlike in the power generation segment, private sector participation is still lagging behind considerably in both the transmission and distribution segments. Addressing these challenges can help drive growth in the segments.

Power Line’s Infocus on Power Distribution and Special Section on Power Transmission provide an in-depth analysis of the trends, developments as well as issues and challenges in these two segments.

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