Nation’s pride and national need
1,200KV POWER TRANSMISSION
The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity — Ayn Rand
India’s efforts to build power transmission lines at ultra high voltage of 1,200kV are laudable. The Bina test station of Central utility Power Grid Corporation of India—a pilot project that will validate 1,200kV technology— is understood to be performing satisfactorily. Within the next 2-3 years, India should be able to put up its first commercial 1,200kV line, which by current thinking would be the 400-km Wardha-Aurangabad line in Maharashtra. The 1,200kV experiment has received enthusiastic support from the Indian equipment manufacturer and contractor fraternity. The Bina test station has been built entirely through indigenous technology; this points to the strong possibility of India becoming self-reliant in the 1,200kV regime. After all, India will be the first country in the world to have power transmission lines at 1,200kV. China, incidentally, has gone up to 1,000kV so far. The true test for India now is to ensure the viability of commercial 1,200kV lines. The 2-km Bina test line is only a pilot project. The challenges and concerns of running commercial lines at 1,200kV, and covering distances of at least a few hundred kilometers, will also unfold with time. It is very interesting to note that countries like Italy, Japan and Russia have undertaken pioneering work in the field of UHVAC transmission. It is even more interesting to observe that none of these countries are running these UHV lines as there is no need to transmit huge quantum of electricity over long distances, as originally envisaged. Unlike these countries, India will definitely need to pursue power transmission at ultra high voltages. India’s plans very much include large-capacity plants, which would typically be the ultra mega power project series, large hydropower plants and mega nuclear plants. India’s power generation centres—east and northeast India—are different from consumption centres, necessitating bulk interregional power transfer. Lines at 1,200kV will be one component of India’s emerging power transmission infrastructure. India will need to harness the technical advantages of both AC and DC technology, which gives ample scope for HVDC lines. Already there are HVDC lines of ±800kV in the making. Efficient power transmission lines will ultimately determine India’s ability to bring power to its remotest consumers. Technology will play a key role in building this efficiency, and in this reckoning, 1,200kV is certainly an opportunity that needs to be exploited to the fullest.