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Energy efficient distribution system: an urgent need in India

“It is quite baffling that distribution loss in India at some places touch 60 per cent of the energy produced. This is because of the faulty distribution networks and other quality issues such as poor monitoring of lines, low quality of wires used and rampant thefts in the transmission lines,” writes Ashok Kaushik, Managing Director, Ensto India
Electricity is the most efficient way of transferring energy to those who need it. However, ensuring that energy is efficiently transmitted is completely a different ball game. The wide-spread blackouts that brought much of India to a sputtering halt in 2012 were a dramatic signal to the power sector that it requires attention. The national government has an ambitious goal to provide electricity to all with particular attention to the poor and vulnerable sections of society. This coupled with the country’s rapid progress in many sectors raise questions regarding the sourcing, transmission and distribution costs of the investments that will be needed to install and operate this infrastructure.The power ministry has set a target for adding 76,000 MW of electricity in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012 -17) and 93,000 MW in the 13th Five Year Plan (2017-2022). The Indian power sector is on a springboard, and given the right environment it can help the economy make that big leap. To bring a positive growth environment to a sector as important as power, the Government has initiated several policies to promote and garner investments in the power sector, like National Electricity Policy, Ultra Mega Power Project Policy, etc.
The Indian power sector has a transmission and distribution network of 5.7 million circuit kilometre, the third largest in the world. The various proposals in generation and transmission are currently under different implementation stages. However, there are problems in overhauling the power sector, since the accountability, operational efficiency, and customer service orientation remains low.
There is a very urgent need for better distribution system in India – before it is too late! Electricity demand is growing every day. The smart grid must be introduced in the near future and this means that requirements for reliability of the distribution network are very high. The distribution system has to be developed in order to optimise the three main factors of lifecycle costs for reliability and safety – operation, maintenance and losses.
Around 28 per cent of electricity supplied into the state level transmission systems is lost due to technical and non-technical reasons. Having said that, a large portion of this problem can be remedied by building a reliable network through perfect distribution network planning, right installation practices and by the use of high quality products, e.g. cable accessories and connectors.  An initial investment constructing the right technology for distribution will ensure that energy is transmitted efficiently and the ambitious targets set for the power sector are closer to realisation than farther.
The main aim of the discoms has to be to increase the lifecycle of the distribution network to up to 40 years or more. High standard products are the cheapest in the end. Products with latest technology and superior quality not necessarily have the lowest prices, yet in the long run the total lifecycle cost will be low as compared to inferior quality products the irony is that most of the electricity distribution companies’ purchases happen only through public tendering. This many times ends up in buying poor quality products with drastically higher maintenance costs for distribution network.
High quality products make it possible to construct electricity networks with low failure frequency irrespective of parameter of voltage fluctuation. Products that are safe and consumer friendly are essential to ensure success of distribution systems. Industrial energy efficiency is essential for strengthening economies, protecting ecosystems and achieving social benefits. India being such a vast country, needs to be organised from the start to the end, starting with installation of transformers, smart grids and voltage boosters.
The Indian lighting industry is growing at a rate of 10 to 12 per cent from past few years, but the result in regard to energy efficiency is not that fruitful. This growth has somehow created a gap between demand and supply. Hence, companies should make it a point to develop a platform where this gap can be bridged. It is mandatory to create an environment where buyers and sellers, government agencies, private players and other institutions linked with energy production and conservation can share some ideas where new methods can be adapted to reduce distribution cost with efficient energy management
With insufficient investments in reliable electricity distribution networks in India, electricity consumption stretches existing availability to its limits, which leads to lower voltages and poor quality of electricity. Tailor-made distribution products and setups not only ensure uninterrupted service but also lower maintenance costs.
The distribution system has to be developed in order to optimise the three main factors of life cycle costs for reliability and safety-operation, maintenance and losses. Solutions for smart electricity distribution grid, low and medium voltage overhead and underground cable lines; high end industrial enclosures & terminals-plastic and metal; electric vehicle charging and energy efficient buildings are the solutions for reducing nationwide 5,000 MW technical losses that happen during peak hours.
Making the smart grid project successful is essential by improving the quality of distribution lines with innovative and high quality products to maximise the life span, reduce outages, save energy by using low contact resistance joints and to reduce the overhauling and maintenance cost to minimal level. Energy saving can be achieved by understanding that the line man is the most important person in this complete chain. We must work towards: • Proper planning by understanding the chosen distribution system in details • Proper training on all levels regarding proper installation • Proper tools and techniques to handle the distribution system • Proper planning and scheduling for maintenance of the system • Use of high quality products which fulfil the requirements of the latest standards.
India being a problematic country in regards to power transmission and distribution needs to find a way out so that people get use to energy efficient products to survive in sustainable environment. A reliable distribution network can pave the way for energy efficiency in India. It is quite baffling that distribution loss in India at some places touch 60 per cent of the energy produced. This is because of the faulty distribution networks and other quality issues such as poor monitoring of lines, low quality of wires used and rampant thefts in the transmission lines.
Technology upgradation is essential to amplify the concept of energy efficient electrical distribution. The Indian market and consumers must be educated about the energy efficiency initiatives and this role is most vital. Urgent policy intervention by both the central and state governments for this industry’s growth is the needed. First and foremost, we should create awareness among the network owners on modules such as ‘selection of connectors’ and ‘aluminium joining techniques’.
A well planned and executed distribution network will definitely keep India’s future power prospects bright.Industrial energy efficiency is essential for strengthening economies, protecting ecosystems and achieving social benefits. India being such a vast country, needs to be organised from the start to the end, starting with installation of transformers, smart grids and voltage boosters.

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