Even as capacity addition in power transmission is crucial to support the upcoming renewable generation capacities and make transmission infrastructure more flexible to accommodate the evolving trends in power consumption, the pace of adding new electricity lines has hit a four-year low in FY19. A total of 22,437 circuit kilometre (ckm) of transmission lines have been added in the fiscal, 3% lower than in FY18.
Similarly, the addition of 72,705 mega volt amp (MVA) of sub-stations commissioned in FY19 is about 16% lower than that in the previous fiscal, and the slowest pace recorded since FY16. Contrary to their state-run counterparts, the private sector players have laid down 66% more transmission lines year-on-year (y-o-y) by commissioning 3,840 ckm in FY19.
However, on the sub-station front, the private sector could only build 840 MVA capacity, sharply lower than the 8,670 MVA it had set up in FY18. Central government-run Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) commissioned 35,945 MVA sub-stations in FY19, a y-o-y increase of 6.7%. State-owned agencies commissioned 35,920 MVA sub-stations in FY19, 18% lower than FY18.
The development takes place with the Central Electricity Authority estimating investment requirement of about Rs 2.7 lakh crore to commission 1.1 lakh ckm of new transmission lines and 3.8 lakh MVA of additional sub-stations to cater to annual peak load demand of 225.7 GW by FY22-end. The creation of 175 GW renewable capacities, which are intermittent and unpredictable, is seen to necessitate a significant ramp up in power transmission infrastructure.
Inadequate transmission infrastructure has been a longstanding impediment to renewable power developers, often delaying project commissioning. This has already forced the government to reduce capacities offered in wind auctions by more than 50%.
The parliamentary standing committee on energy had noted in August that the green energy corridor scheme has been a non-starter , with a meager `10 crore allocated to it in FY19. The transmission sector needs to catch up with the speed of greenfield generation projects, Manish Agarwal, CEO of Sterlite Power Transmission s Solutions business told FE.
The government plans to add 23,621 ckm transmission lines and 81,716 MVA sub-stations in the current fiscal. As reported by FE earlier, thanks to slow implementation of schemes aimed to de-congest electricity transmission networks, less than a fifth of Rs 10,894 crore sanctioned by the Union power ministry from the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) since 2014 has been utilised so far. As many as 117 projects were under implementation across the country based on grants from PSDF, and only Rs 1,894 crore had been disbursed to them till October 31, 2018. Several projects under PSDF, sanctioned as early as 2015, have not received 30% of their sanctioned amount.
Right of way (RoW) problem, settlement of compensation issues, clearances from various authorities (forest clearance, clearances from aviation and highways authorities etc.), land acquisition and poor performance of contractors have been identified as the main problem areas impeding transmission projects.
Poor financial health of Uttar Pradesh s state-run transmission company has slowed down work in the Bara TPS Mainpuri and Unnao -Mainpuri lines. Other stalled critical transmission projects include Kishenganga-Wagoora (affected by disturbance in Kashmir), Rajarhat-Purnea (resistance from local villagers in Rajarhat, West Bengal), Sagardighi -Gokarna (poor performance of vendor Jyoti Structure ) and Amreli-Kasor (RoW issues and contractual issue with M/s Gaytri).