“T&D in­dus­try likely to see $75 bn in­vest­ment in 5-7 years”

Sha­ran Bansal, Di­rec­tor, Skip­per Ltd, also speaks about the scope for IoT in mak­ing smart grids a re­al­ity, in an interview with Mon­ica Chaturvedi Charna...

Power Watch India - - COVER STORY | T&D -

In­dia is set to ex­ten­sively boost trans­mis­sion line in­fra­struc­ture and to ac­com­mo­date en­hanced so­lar ca­pac­ity. How is Skip­per gear­ing to lever­age this op­por­tu­nity?

In­dia’s T&D in­dus­try is es­ti­mated to see a planned in­vest­ment of $75 bil­lion in the next 5-7 years and Rs 1 tril­lion worth of trans­mis­sion projects to come up for bid­ding in the next 12-18 months. In ad­di­tion, the green en­ergy cor­ri­dor, feeder sep­a­ra­tion and smart cities will be strong de­mand driv­ers.

The MNRE has taken sev­eral steps to fruc­tify the PM’s dream of clean en­ergy. The largest re­new­able ca­pac­ity ex­pan­sion pro­gramme in the world is be­ing taken up by In­dia. The government is aim­ing to in­crease the share of clean en­ergy through a mas­sive thrust on re­new­ables.

The tar­get of 175 GW by 2022 in­clud­ing 100 GW of so­lar is vi­sion­ary, and we con­sider this a good op­por­tu­nity as it will re­quire ef­fi­cient evac­u­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture. With so­lar tar­iffs plung­ing to his­toric lows as much as Rs 3.0 kwh, In­dia has be­come a hot­bed of the next so­lar rev­o­lu­tion. De­vel­op­ment of an ef­fi­cient power trans­mis­sion net­work through Green En­ergy Cor­ri­dor project is a must to at­tain these goals.

Your comments on UDAY and its out­come?

The power distribution seg­ment has been the Achilles heel on ac­count of the in­abil­ity of power dis­coms to pur­chase power due to their weak financial po­si­tion. This as­pect is be­ing ad­dressed with the Ujwal Dis­com As­sur­ance Yo­jana (UDAY) scheme and the financial health of dis­coms is ex­pected to im­prove.

The government had launched the UDAY scheme to pro­vide a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion for a financial turn­around and re­vival of distribution com­pa­nies (dis­coms). The scheme is ex­pected to help dis­coms save around Rs 1.8 lakh crore in the next three years. The UDAY scheme will bring re­lief through sav­ings in in­ter­est costs, re­duc­tion in tech­ni­cal and com­mer­cial loss, and lower cost of power pur­chase. Power gen­er­a­tors would also ben­e­fit as they were un­der stress be­cause of the weak power de­mand from dis­coms. The scheme im­proves the util­i­ties’ abil­ity to pur­chase power and en­able them to sign long-term pur­chase agree­ments. Plant load fac­tor of coal-based plants is ex­pected to im­prove be­cause of all this.

The suc­cess of UDAY is crit­i­cal for In­dia’s am­bi­tious clean en­ergy pro­gramme to com­bat cli­mate change, re­vival of stranded ther­mal projects, the health of banks that have lent Rs 4.3 lakh crore to dis­coms and the government’s vi­sion of sup­ply­ing af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble ‘24×7 power to all’. In a year’s time, the scheme has re­ceived over­whelm­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion of 27 states. The scheme has played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the re­vival of the dis­coms in the chron­i­cally in­ef­fi­cient states. Many states have re­duced the gap be­tween the av­er­age cost and rev­enue.

Is there any dump­ing hap­pen­ing from China in the trans­mis­sion tow­ers seg­ment? If yes, how is the do­mes­tic mar­ket deal­ing with it?

With the do­mes­tic mar­ket pro­vid­ing rea­son­able growth op­por­tu­ni­ties, Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers are

un­likely to ham­per the Indian mar­ket. In such a sce­nario, com­pa­nies with a sus­tain­able com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage like di­ver­si­fied prod­uct pro­file and ge­o­graph­i­cal reach are bet­ter placed to man­age growth and main­tain mar­gins. How­ever, sev­eral in­dus­try stal­warts and in­de­pen­dent or­gan­i­sa­tions have ex­pressed con­cern time and again over the pres­ence of Chi­nese firms in view of sen­si­tiv­ity in the power sec­tor.

Which seg­ment is high­est rev­enue churner for Skip­per – tow­ers and poles, tower ac­ces­sories, so­lar struc­tures or tower EPC and why?

The engi­neer­ing prod­uct seg­ment – man­u­fac­tur­ing of T&D struc­tures and poles makes about 88 per cent of the to­tal rev­enue of our busi­ness. This is be­cause Skip­per is pre­dom­i­nantly into the man­u­fac­tur­ing of tow­ers with a busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence of more than 3 decades. Skip­per is not only amongst the largest play­ers in the coun­try but also a renowned global player ex­port­ing to 20+ coun­tries. We have the unique ad­van­tage of pro­duc­ing 100 per cent of our prime raw ma­te­rial - mild steel and high ten­sile an­gles, in-house. Skip­per’s in­her­ent ad­van­tage due to its lo­gis­tics also gives it the op­por­tu­nity to man­u­fac­ture tow­ers at the low­est pos­si­ble cost and to par­tic­i­pate and win ex­port or­ders across the world. The tower EPC is rel­a­tively a new busi­ness, where we have al­ready ex­e­cuted a cou­ple of ma­jor projects from PGCIL, UPPTCL and RRVPNL.

What are the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges in the tower EPC busi­ness? What is Skip­per’s core strat­egy to over­come com­peti­tors?

In­dia’s GDP is ris­ing at a bet­ter pace and also ex­pected to do so for a much longer pe­riod. EPC power projects are un­doubt­edly an es­sen­tial driv­ing force for such mas­sive de­vel­op­ments, and In­dia is on the path of re­duc­ing the gap be­tween ur­ban and nonur­ban ar­eas by equally dis­tribut­ing in­fra­struc­ture ex­pan­sions. Just as any busi­ness has its own set of chal­lenges, so does the EPC ver­ti­cal. A cou­ple of chal­lenges that we face on a reg­u­lar ba­sis are:

The avail­abil­ity of land route cor­ri­dor for in­stal­la­tion of large tow­ers for car­ry­ing EHV and UHV power lines are get­ting re­duced ev­ery sin­gle day due to ex­pan­sion.

The size of land avail­abil­ity with own­ers it­self get­ting re­duced due to mul­ti­ple par­ti­tions in fam­ily. This causes hard­ships to land own­ers for per­mit­ting to in­stall heavy tow­ers on their land.

The in­creas­ing level of aware­ness of landown­ers as they agi­tate to al­low in­stal­la­tion of EPC tow­ers and de­mand very high com­pen­sa­tions (for crops as well as land).

Sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the cost of man­power and non-avail­abil­ity of bot­tom line ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal work­force on ac­count of in­creas­ing lit­er­acy lev­els in In­dia.

The younger gen­er­a­tion in In­dia, which con­sti­tutes more than 35 per cent are look­ing for soft, closed ar­eas and en­vi­ron­ment friendly jobs.

To­tal qual­ity man­age­ment is the key piece of the puzzle that the com­pany strives to mas­ter so that it may be used as a strate­gic arse­nal to move for­ward. By do­ing so, we stand to have an even bet­ter shot to po­si­tion our­selves as a win­ner in our in­dus­try. In spite of be­ing a fresh en­trant in the EPC busi­ness, our aim is de­liver our best in what­ever se­lected projects we un­der­take. A few points which keeps us ahead from our in­dus­try peers would be: Be­ing amongst the largest EPC tower man­u­fac­tur­ers and our cost ef­fec­tive­ness gives us the re­quired edge to be com­pet­i­tive among the top EPC tower busi­ness con­trac­tors. Be­ing a back­ward in­te­grated com­pany, the com­pany has the ca­pac­ity to de­liver projects in the short­est pos­si­ble time pe­riod in case of de­sign changes, proto test­ing, etc. We feel this is a se­vere chal­lenge to many par­tic­i­pants in the EPC sec­tor.

Qual­ity man­power for both de­sign­ing and de­liv­er­ing the projects on time. Avail­abil­ity of all re­quired tools and reg­u­lar ad­di­tion to it as a strat­egy gives a per­fect edge to the com­pany to be a no­table player in the EPC tower busi­ness. The com­pany has a rep­u­ta­tion for mak­ing timely pay­ments to all its stake hold­ers. Qual­ity and safety of work­ing per­son­nel are 2 most cru­cial fac­tors that dis­tin­guish our com­pany from the rest.

How do you in­tend to op­ti­mise on pro­grammes such as Smart Cities and Smart Grids?

Grid man­age­ment through smart grids, grid sta­bil­ity, con­nected de­vices and In­ter­net of Things (IoT) will be im­por­tant to re­duce the high in­ci­dence of T&D losses. Sim­i­larly, smart cities will in­volve use of clean en­ergy, qual­ity and re­li­able power, ad­vanced wa­ter me­ter­ing and man­age­ment meth­ods, green build­ings and smart homes, which are en­ergy ef­fi­cient and safe.

Our de­sign team cre­ates cus­tomised tow­ers as per re­quire­ments of the client to fit in the smart mode. Mono­poles, which is our spe­cial­ity are fast be­com­ing one of the most pop­u­lar struc­tures in the wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trans­mis­sion in­dus­tries. Adding tow­ers in ur­ban ar­eas has be­come dif­fi­cult in re­cent years due to more strin­gent zon­ing laws and lack of avail­able land. It make the process longer and more ex­pen­sive. Since mono­poles re­quire smaller foot­prints and are aes­thet­i­cally more pleas­ing, wire­less car­ri­ers and power T&D com­pa­nies in In­dia are ex­pected to in­creas­ingly turn to these struc­tures to be de­ployed in densely pop­u­lated ar­eas.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.