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Increasing Private Participation Contributes to the Growth of

Substation Automation Business in India

by Piyush Dewangan on 4/27/2011 9:32 AM
Category: Process Automation & Safety; Asset Management; Operations Mgmt

By Piyush Dewangan and Rajabahadur V Arcot

India’s power transmission networks grew from 52,034 ckm in 1985 to approximately

221,549 ckm by January 2010. The power transmission network includes the transmission

substation where electric power is transferred from generation plant to power distributor.

The transmission substation size has also increased from 46,621 MVA in 1985 to 303,637

MVA in January 2010. The growth in transmission and transmission substations is expected

to escalate in the near future, subsequent to the additions of electric power generation


Substation automation enables utility companies to remotely monitor, control, and co-

ordinate the several distribution components installed in substations. The major primary

equipments for substation automation includes transformers, switchgears, and others; while

the protection system, control and communication equipments and others come under

secondary equipments. In addition, microprocessor based remote terminal units (RTU) or

intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) are used for automation and protection of substations.

India’s major thrust is on building generation capacities to meet the country’s galloping

demand for power; synchronously, investment in transmission and distribution

infrastructure is taking place to support generation capacities. More private companies are

increasing their participation not only in building generation capacities, but are also creating

their own transmission and distribution infrastructure. Recent examples are the

announcements by Reliance Infrastructure and Essar Power to build substations for

enabling power distribution.

Reliance Infrastructure is commissioning three new (apart from existing 3 EHV substations)

220 kV extra high voltage (EHV) substations to strengthen Mumbai’s transmission grid. And

Essar Power is also building substations for its upcoming power project in Jharkhand and

Orissa. Essar has awarded AREVA T&D to manufacture and install a 400 kV gas insulated

substation and 220 kV air-insulated substations (AIS), and other systems, such as

distribution and power transformers and low voltage switchboards for the project. In

addition to such announcements, all major electric power companies are also revamping the

management of plant substations.

The increasing trend of such investments are spurring the growth of substation automation

business in the country. Substations form a crucial part of the entire electric grid, and its

automation has gained significant focus in India’s electric power industry. Substation

automation has become as important for power flow management in an industry as process

or work flow is for the manufacturing plant. As per ARC’s discussion with leading

automation suppliers to the electric power industry, most of the companies expect their

revenues from substation automation to double in the next couple of years.

These investment trends augur well for India’s electric power industry; however, the

investment must be focused towards ensuring compatibility with future technology upgrades

such as smart grid development. Companies must deploy state-of- the-art and standard

based systems for automating their substations. It is the responsibility of the suppliers to

create awareness among electric power companies about the benefits of future oriented

developments and planned investments. The existing electrical substations’ challenges in

the country, such as ageing infrastructure, unknown equipment status, exception handling,

and fault detection to diagnostics, and others also needs attention. The international

standard IEC 61850 compatible systems ensures interoperability for the several devices of

power and energy and between all the intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) from different

suppliers. The advanced and standard based systems also enable reliable communication

and interconnectivity between IEDs, the network components and the control platform.
The transmission and distribution infrastructure in the country is now getting more attention

towards ensuring reliable power supply, minimizing T&D losses, and such others.

Companies are focusing on developing systems that can identify faults, permit quick

diagnostics, and ensure prevention of power theft.

Industry experts estimate the country’s T&D equipment market to reach $120 billion over

the eleventh and 12th five year plan. With such a huge growth opportunity, the sector is

witnessing fierce competition. The recent move of changing the bidding process for high-

voltage power substation projects by Power Grid Corporation (PGCIL) is one such

example. The company’s move towards awarding tenders for substation projects and circuit

breakers separately enables wider competition, especially to domestic players, such

as Crompton Greaves, L&T, and BHEL.

ARC understands the growth potential that exists in India’s electric power industry for

automation and asset management suppliers across the generation, transmission, and

distribution business. ARC’s study on “Automation and Asset Management

Expenditure to the Electric Power Industry India Outlook” will soon be published.

This study will provide the total business information with a five year forecast for India’s

electric power industry. The study will cover several automation and asset management

solutions, such as DCS, control valves, transmitters, PLCs, SCADA, AC drives, plant asset

management, enterprise asset management, safety systems, and such others.

This study will address the key challenges facing electric power companies and how leading

companies are surmounting those challenges; and it will also help electric power companies

assess appropriate automation solutions and select suppliers suitable for their organizations.

Write to at ARC, and we will host your opinions on this blog.