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All regions linked,yet miles to go for better power flow

South hooks up with national grid but will be unable to wheel extra power until systems are in place.

Written by Anil Sasi | New Delhi |
January 2, 2014 1:01:14 am

On New Year’s Eve,the power ministry announced the commissioning of a key transmission link that would mark the integration of the southern region with the electricity grid in the rest of the country. The ministry said the commissioning of the Raichur-Solapur 765 kV single-circuit transmission line has been achieved by the state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL),interconnecting the southern grid synchronously with the rest of the National Power Grid and facilitating “bulk transfer of power across regional boundaries”.

The single link may have been commissioned,but this is unlikely to increase the power import capability of the southern region anytime soon. This is because a second-circuit Raichur-Solapur line,which is a crucial buffer for putting the transmission link into operation,is not ready yet. Plus,many PGCIL transmission lines leading up to Solapur and going beyond Raichur are not ready either,and without these the single line cannot be optimally utilised.

Experts involved in the exercise have described the move of announcing the commissioning of the single-circuit line as a hurried exercise by PGCIL to be eligible to recover the requisite transmission tariff,without there being any tangible benefit for stakeholders in either the south or the rest of the country.

The commissioned line,despite a 2,500-MW wheeling capacity on paper,will be allowed to carry “equalising power” — electricity required to even load fluctuations out — to the tune of 800 MW only. If power flows were to exceed this,the line could trip. Even when the second circuit line is ready,experts say it will not be possible to increase power flows beyond 800 MW unless the associated lines of PGCIL on either side of Raichur and Solapur are commissioned. Further,it is also learnt that the necessary safeguards for operating the grid for the whole country as a single synchronised entity — the entire grid running at the same frequency — have not been implemented. These include measures such as tightening the frequency band and rolling out automatic frequency responses.

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It is understood that for the next six months,the grid will be purely under observation and power transfer to the southern region will not be raised from the current levels. For any significant increase in the flows between the region and the rest of India,more such strong AC links will need to be developed. At present,though,other than the two Raichur-Solapur links,no related inter-regional AC links are under construction.

A link similar to the Raichur-Solapur line that was planned between Wardha and Hyderabad more than two years ago is still in the works. PGCIL is yet to start work on this line and it will take at least three years for it to get commissioned,officials say.

A statement from PGCIL,announcing the commissioning of the line,said: “Synchronous integration of Southern Grid with rest of the National Power Grid shall not only augment the inter-regional power transfer capacity of southern region but also relieve the congestion being experienced in (a) few transmission corridors.”

Meanwhile,in the southern region,the partial commissioning of the 1,000 MWe (mega watt electrical) first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear project and other thermal stations has increased power availability in Tamil Nadu. The state’s peaking shortage in November has,incidentally,reduced to 1237 MW in November 2013 from 3449 MW in the same month last year.

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