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‘Drones successfully cut down Transmission Lines maintenance costs’

Monday, February 13, 2017
By Dominic Rebello

With helicopter maintenance patrolling for 15,000 kms being costly even at three times annually, Power Grid Corporation Ltd. has introduced state-of-the-art, Hi-optical-resolution Drones to successfully cover maintenance of its 134,750 CKM (Circuit kms) electricity lines transmission network, Power Grid officials said on side lines of their Q3 results announcement. The cost of  each Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs/ Drones) comes to around Rs 150,000/- and we have four drones at present with plans to buy another 18 drones for towertop patrolling as our engineers find it easy to use anywhere,” said I S Jha, CMD, Power Grid.

“While transmission lines often trip about once in two years and each Drone can fly to and fro upto three kms, the drones efficiency lies also in the fact that now we can see even minute damage in the transmission lines network and carry out repairs faster,”  he said.

The company is constructing one of the largest transmission lines network in the world of 6,000 MW between Champa (Western Region) and Kurukshetra (Northern region) comprising 51 bays, while it has already completed Rs 26,700 crore - and commissioned Rs 20,700 crore -- of projects. Also, for the first time, Power Grid Market capitalization crossed Rs one lakh crore.

However, the Government faces the challenge of increasing Renewable Energy CAGR from existing 46 GW to 175 GW, besides the focus being on 24/7 ‘Affordable Power for All’ by 2019 and Renewable Energy production of 175 GW by 2022. The focus is also on increasing the per capita consumption to about 4000 units by 2030. Power Grid is creating “Energy Highways” based on envisaged land growth and comprising 11 Hi-capacity corridors of 4,000MW each, and three 6,000MW capacity each HVDC systems.

“We have developed Green Energy Corridors having Multiple Transmission Systems, Renewable Energy Management Centres, and Storage also, besides 34 solar parks for producing 20GW including 13 Solar Parks of 9,220MW capacity each and 21 Solar parks of 10,780 MW capacity each (all expected to grow totally to 100GW by 2022),” Jha said while noting that India could provide a good demand market to harness energy resources of  other countries (SAARC connections), besides facilitating interconnections through the grid with neighbouring countries.

“Rs 2,60,000 crore investment has been envisaged with 106,000 CKM transmission lines, 292,000 MVA transmission capacity. About 45% power generated in India is transmitted through Power Grid with availability being 99.76% through 134,750 CKMs transmission lines. Till January 2017, our CAPEX was Rs 17,908 crore, while our Board approved Rs 34,809 crore investment in FY17 for 30 projects. Our plans for Q4FY17 include 4,750 CKMs transmission lines and Inter-regional capacity of 11,400MW,” Jha said.

Talking about the future plans, he said, Power Grid is looking at between 23,000 to Rs 25,000 CAPEX next year and did not foresee any problems in accessing the market as it had raised Rs 11,500 crore through the Bond Market and expected the market to stabilize. Also, its transmission lines network expansion was being expedited easily with forest clearance permission coming in barely six months, as against two years earlier, he said.

“Our ongoing projects are Rs 1,10,000 crore and New Projects are: Rs 13,000 crore. If anyone wants to use Power Grid in their business, then we will invest with 8% interest,” he said. “We are leveraging our expertise for consultancy by doing such business in 19 countries and for which income has grown by 44% to Rs 1400 crore. Our National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFN) is connecting 2.5 lakh panchayats in India,” he added.

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