Abhay Choudhary recently assumed charge as director, projects at Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (Powergrid). Prior to this, he was executive director (commercial and regulatory cell) and also held charge as CMD of the coordination cell.
An industry veteran with over 35 years in the sector, he is well acquainted with working in difficult terrain and extremist-affected areas. He was closely associated with the construction of high-capacity transmission corridors in Jharkhand and Odisha, as well as RGGVY and APDRP projects in Bihar. He also served as executive director of the north-eastern region from 2015-17.
“The transmission segment is mature and at par with international standards, in terms of both technology and transmission capability. There is no congestion in the system, which has considerably reduced prices in the short-term market and increased transaction volumes on the exchanges,” he says. Each region is now connected with high-capacity AC corridors, high-voltage DC bipolar lines and HVDC back-to-back systems. These provide flexibility and stability to the system.
He notes that the Covid-induced lockdown did slow down transmission project construction to some extent; however, construction will resume soon and the utilities will try and go full throttle to ensure that all associated transmission systems are available when new renewable generation comes up.
The biggest challenge for the sector, he says, is grid integration of variable renewable energy, in terms of maintaining the voltage and frequency parameters. This intermittent renewable power has to be balanced by flexible baseload generating stations. “To tackle these issues, we are coming up with dynamic MVAR compensation such as STATCOM and setting up phasor measurement units at strategic locations in the grid,” he says.
Another key challenge is the location and transmission system planning for renewable energy plants such that the end-beneficiary gets power at the most economical rate. Studies are being conducted to assess whether it is more economical to set up renewable plants in resource-rich areas and transmit power to the load centres, or locate the plants in non-resource-rich areas where the quantum of generation is less but transmission costs are saved.
Choudhary is an electrical engineer from NIT Durgapur with a postgraduate diploma in management from IMT Ghaziabad.