One significant trend in 2019 was the continuing effort to upgrade the T&D infrastructure.
Work under the IPDS and DDUGJY programmes for the urban and rural areas respectively is also being completed in mission mode. As per government estimates, distribution infrastructure has now been upgraded in about 2,300 towns and benefitted over 30 million consumers under the former. On the smart grid front, all pilot projects have been completed, making way for larger roll-outs. Further, under the National Smart Grid Mission, five smart grid projects are at various stages of development for 0.75 million consumers.
Discoms are also preparing for a complete shift to smart prepaid meters. Under the Smart Metering National Programme (SMNP), so far, some 705,000 meters have been installed in Uttar Pradesh, 64,000 meters in Haryana and 5,000 meters in Bihar. Currently, 5,500-6,000 meters are being installed per day in 11 cities under the SMNP.
On the transmission side, the central transmission utility is undertaking the deployment of technologies such as STATCOM and SVC to improve the performance and stability of the transmission grid. High voltage transmission systems, innovative tower designs, substation automation, high voltage transformers and superconductors are other technologies that are gaining traction in this segment.
To cope with the growing proliferation of renewable energy sources, distributed generation sources, microgrids, electric vehicles and storage systems – 2020 will likely see utilities turning towards digital solutions and technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics to keep pace with a rapidly changing market.
That said, it will be important to plan for multiple scenarios and prioritise investments to ensure that utilities invest in assets with long-term growth potential. This can be challenging in a transforming industry, where new technologies, products and competitors emerge regularly.
Power Line takes stock of the emerging trends and developments in the T&D segment in this issue.