In­dia steps up to 1,200kV

In­dia is set to de­ploy 1,200kV power trans­mis­sion lines on commercial ba­sis, mak­ing it the high­est volt­age level in the world. Boost­ing In­dia’s prospects is the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 1,200kV test sta­tion at Bina in Mad­hya Pradesh. VENU­GOPAL PIL

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The de­vel­op­ment of In­dia’s power sec­tor—in both qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive terms—will be the prin­ci­pal de­ter­mi­nant of In­dia’s so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Power trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion have re­ceived much lesser at­ten­tion as com­pared with power gen­er­a­tion. In fact, power short­ages have tra­di­tion­ally been ad­dressed by ramp­ing up power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity. It is only over the past few years that at­ten­tion is be­ing di­rected to im­prov­ing the tech­ni­cal and commercial ef­fi­ciency of power gen­er­ated by duly ad­dress­ing crit­i­cal is­sues in the power T&D space.

On the power trans­mis­sion front, one of the means to achieve greater ef­fi­ciency is the in­tro­duc­tion of high­volt­age lines. To­day, commercial lines ex­ist up to 765kV, and apart from AC (al­ter­nat­ing cur­rent) tech­nol­ogy, there is wide­spread de­ploy­ment of DC (di­rect cur­rent) lines. In terms of high volt­age di­rect cur­rent (HVDC) lines, In­dia is es­tab­lish­ing lines with ul­tra high volt­ages of even ±800kV. An out­stand­ing as­pect of In­dia’s power trans­mis­sion en­deav­ours has been the ef­fort to set up ul­tra high volt­age power trans­mis­sion lines at 1,200kV— the high­est volt­age level any­where in the world as yet.

Though In­dia has yet to es­tab­lish 1,200kV power trans­mis­sion tech­nol­ogy on a commercial scale, a

good be­gin­ning has been made by set­ting up test­ing fa­cil­i­ties. The Bina UHVAC test sta­tion in Mad­hya Pradesh is the re­sult of the con­certed ef­fort of Cen­tral trans­mis­sion util­ity Power Grid Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia, Cen­tral Power Re­search In­sti­tute (CPRI) and 35 In­dian sup­pli­ers. What is en­cour­ag­ing to note is that the UHVAC test sta­tion is based largely on indige­nous tech­nol­ogy.

Seeds of the UHVAC en­ter­prise were

sown in 2007 when a Project Steer­ing Com­mit­tee was formed un­der the lead­er­ship of PGCIL and with mem­bers from Cen­tral Elec­tric­ity Author­ity (CEA), in­dus­try body IEEMA, CPRI, and leading In­dian elec­tri­cal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers. The UHVAC Bina test sta­tion rep­re­sents an in­ter­est­ing man­i­fes­ta­tion of the pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship (PPP) phi­los­o­phy. When PGCIL an­nounced the 1,200kV ven­ture, sev­eral equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers came up in sup­port. For the 35 man­u­fac­tur­ers in­volved in this project of na­tional im­por­tance, it was not merely a “con­tract” awarded by PGCIL, but an op­por­tu­nity to con­trib­ute to a na­tional cause. All the equip­ments for the sta­tion like transformers, cir­cuit break­ers, surge ar­restors, in­su­la­tors, etc were built in­dige­nously. The Bina test sta­tion was ded­i­cated to the na­tion on De­cem­ber 26, 2012. The test cen­tre in­cludes two test bays, one 1,200kV sin­gle-cir­cuit line and one 1,200kV dou­ble-cir­cuit line. The test lines are around 2 km long.

The fol­low­ing is a brief de­scrip­tion of se­lect par­tic­i­pants in the suc­cess­ful com­mis­sion­ing of the 1,200kV Bina test sta­tion.

Bharat Heavy Elec­tri­cals Ltd: Cen­tral PSU en­gi­neer­ing com­pany BHEL sup­plied a 1,200kV trans­former of 333MVA rat­ing. This sin­gle-phase auto trans­former was de­vel­oped with indige­nous tech­nol­ogy and man­u­fac­tured at its Bhopal plant in

Mad­hya Pradesh. Apart from this, BHEL also sup­plied other key equip­ment like 1,200kV in­su­la­tors.

Vi­jai Elec­tri­cals Ltd: This Hy­der­abad-based com­pany also sup­plied a 1,200kV auto trans­former of 333MVA rat­ing. Like BHEL, this sin­gle­phase trans­former was de­vel­oped with indige­nous tech­nol­ogy and was pro­duced at the Ru­dram works near Hy­der­abad.

Crompton Greaves: Avan­tha Group com­pany Crompton Greaves (CG) dis­patched a 1,200kV ca­pac­i­tive volt­age trans­former for the Bina UHV test sta­tion. Rolling out of the Nashik plant in Ma­ha­rash­tra, the mam­moth trans­former was de­vel­oped with in­house tech­nol­ogy.

Larsen & Toubro: This pri­vate sec­tor en­gi­neer­ing gi­ant was also in­volved in the 1,200kV power trans­mis­sion regime. In late 2009, Larsen & Toubro es­tab­lished In­dia's largest trans­mis­sion line re­search cen­tre at Kancheep­u­ram in Tamil Nadu. The cen­tre is equipped to test trans­mis­sion tow­ers of up to 95m height re­quired for 1,200kV power trans­mis­sion lines. This test­ing sta­tion, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by L&T, en­ables to de­sign and val­i­date in­no­va­tive con­fig­u­ra­tions with­out any lim­i­ta­tions on size, shape and mag­ni­tude of load­ing, which is cur­rently not pos­si­ble in the in­dus­try.

Siemens: Siemens de­vel­oped a 1,200kV cir­cuit breaker for the Bina test sta­tion. This apart, Siemens also sup­plied surge ar­restors of 1,200kV rat­ing. A Siemens of­fi­cial told Elec­tri­cal Mon­i­tor that these ar­resters were de­signed and tested at Siemens’ Berlin and Cologne fa­cil­ity in Ger­many.

Al­stom In­dia: For­merly known as Areva T&D, Al­stom In­dia sup­plied a 1,200kV ca­pac­i­tive volt­age trans­former for the Bina test sta­tion. This equip­ment was de­vel­oped at the Ho­sur plant in Tamil Nadu. Al­stom has also planned to make other 1,200kV gear in­clud­ing dig­i­tal cur­rent transformers.

KEC In­ter­na­tional: RPG Group com­pany KEC In­ter­na­tional was in­volved in the Bina test sta­tion as the EPC con­trac­tor for the 1,200kV dou­ble-cir­cuit line. The line in­volves han­dling of tow­ers each weigh­ing more than 400 tonnes and with a height of 130m. In an exclusive in­ter­ac­tion with Elec­tri­cal Mon­i­tor, Ramesh Chan­dak, MD & CEO, KEC In­ter­na­tional Ltd ex­pressed pride in be­ing as­so­ci­ated with this land­mark project. (Full in­ter­ac­tion pre­sented else­where in this story.)

Supreme & Co: Kolkata-based Supreme was an ac­tive sup­plier of crit­i­cal hard­ware for the Bina test sta­tion. In an ear­lier in­ter­ac­tion with Elec­tri­cal Mon­i­tor, the com­pany said that it had sup­plied nearly 80 per cent of the hard­ware used in the UHVAC cen­tre. Some key equip­ment in­cluded

corona con­trol rings, clamps, con­nec­tors, etc.

Hivelm In­dus­tries: This Chen­naibased com­pany that is a unit of Di­givi­sion Elec­tron­ics Ltd de­signed and de­vel­oped a 1,200kV iso­la­tor for the Bina test sta­tion. The iso­la­tor was shipped to Bina in Au­gust 2012.

As of now, the Bina UHVAC sta­tion is un­der test­ing. Go­ing by in­dus­try play­ers, the re­sults have been sat­is­fac­tory. Test­ing is ex­pected to go on for an­other cou­ple of years af­ter which In­dia can em­bark on set­ting up 1,200kV lines at the commercial level. When it comes to 1,200kV lines, In­dia has es­tab­lished its com­pe­tence in man­u­fac­tur­ing equip­ment and hard­ware. The next phase—and of course the most crit­i­cal one—is to study “live line” con­di­tions, which is to in­ves­ti­gate the work­ing of 1,200kV lines at full load on a sus­tained pe­riod of time. The im­pact of full load is also be­ing stud­ied on the equip­ment and hard­ware. Depend­ing on the re­sults of this study, suit­able mod­i­fi­ca­tions may need to be made for fu­ture projects.


In­dia, due to its in­trin­sic con­di­tions, makes a very good ap­pli­ca­tion area for ul­tra high volt­age power trans­mis­sion. In­dia’s cur­rent in­stalled ca­pac­ity is around 2.3 lakh mw and by 2027, in­stalled ca­pac­ity is likely to touch 7 lakh mw, ne­ces­si­tat­ing the trans­fer of 5 lakh mw worth of power ca­pac­ity.

Power trans­mis­sion is very land­cen­tric ac­tiv­ity and land—as a sub­ject—has al­ways had a dif­fi­cult time. Erect­ing power trans­mis­sion lines in­volves ob­tain­ing the evere­lu­sive right of way. Se­cur­ing RoW for lines pass­ing through sen­si­tive ar­eas like forests or mines or through pri­vate land has been a big de­ter­rent. Once RoW is ob­tained, it makes tech­ni­cal and commercial sense to har­ness it to the fullest. The dif­fer­ence in RoW re­quire­ment for a 400kV line and a



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