• PowerGrid to set up energy highways to meet demand growth

    Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) is planning to build energy highways across the country to meet a projected growth in demand and ease the load on the national grid.

    The highways include 11 high-capacity corridors, each with a capacity of about 4,000 Mw, and three high-capacity HVDC (high-voltage, direct current) systems (6,000 Mw each). The central transmission utility will also develop eight inter-state transmission systems (ISTS) or green energy corridors to help the renewable energy sector. The ones to come up first would be to connect the solar power parks in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. PGCIL is constructing the first phase of green corridors connecting renewable-rich states.

    The investment planned for these projects is Rs 1.12 lakh crore, with the energy highways costing Rs 58,000 crore and the HVDC systems Rs 12,000 crore each. The cost of the ongoing green corridors is Rs 18,000 crore. The ISTS for solar parks is about Rs 9,000 crore each. The costs are for the lifetime of the projects and would be invested according to commissioning time lines.

    I S Jha, chairman and managing director of PGCIL, told Business Standard: “Transmission planning now is on basis of load growth and not just power generation. The government of India has projected per capita power consumption to grow four times to 4,000 Mw by 2030. Along with central programmes, this will give a momentum to household demand. The country’s transmission needs to be prepared for the phenomenal growth of power demand.”

    The central government has accelerated the development of power transmission networks to match the projected electricity demand in several regions. Along with states, which would offer transmission projects, the Centre is looking to unleash an investment opportunity of close to Rs 1 lakh crore for the sector. However, the award of projects under the bidding route has been growing slowly. Eight projects costing Rs 9,635 crore have been announced to be offered through tariff based competitive bidding this financial year.

    The power ministry has said transmission corridors would be set up before generation started. “Transmission work for evacuation of renewable energy is in mission mode. Transmission has typically stayed behind generation and led to years of mismatch. But we are doing long-term planning to avoid such a situation. For instance, transmission systems for solar parks would come by the time these generation units come — around 18 months,” said a senior power ministry official.

    Of the ongoing projects, totalling Rs 1.16 lakh crore, PGCIL is building Rs 16,000 crore worth of projects won through this route; the rest was nominated.

    Officials said such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana would offer power transmission projects through the bidding route, which forms a part of their 24X7 Power for All plan. Amari Cooper Authentic Jersey

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