Sterlite Power Transmission (SPTL), a company that was demerged from Sterlite Technologies in May this year, looks to invest about $5-7 billion over a five-year period in transmission business across the country. However, the investment would depend on allocation of contracts by the Centre and State governments.“At present, we have a total of 10 projects in hand, and there are about Rs. 4,000-5,000 crore projects available for bidding in the next six months. These are all transmission projects across different parts of the country, and we are qualified for all these projects,” said Pratik Agarwal, chief executive officer at SPTL.
“While India has become a power surplus nation on one hand, large portion of our population either do not have access to power at all or suffer from unreliable power supply. Transmission has been identified as a key bottleneck and the country needs about $7-8 billion of annual investment in transmission only,” he added.Going forward, majority of that will be awarded on a build-own-operate (BOT) basis on tariff based competitive bidding (TBCB) basis as opposed to the existing engineering, procurement and construction basis, which is on a cost-plus model. This will further open up the sector to private participation.
“In the next 10-15 years, there is going to be a huge requirement for transmission investment as the load on the grid is expected to rise by 10-15 per cent per annum and more importantly the sector would also gain on the Prime Minister’s stress on solar energy,” he added.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hiked the solar energy generation plan five-fold to 100 GW by 2022 from 20 GW set by the earlier government.SPTL also expects its portfolio of transmission projects to more than double to about Rs. 30,000-35,000 crore in the next four to five years. The company’s present portfolio of projects stands at about Rs. 12,000-14,000 crore spread over 10 projects of which majority were commissioned in the last four are commissioned and revenue generating.
Sterlite Power Transmission is also looking at emerging as a digital company in the next five years, with it gearing up for investments in technology in the next 12-18 months.In August this year, the company had acquired a majority stake in a US-based drone company Sharper Shape that provides operation and maintenance (O&M) services for various utility companies.SPTL has moved the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for granting licence to operate drones for transmission line O&M services in the country.“Once we get the permission or when the country issues generic guidelines on operating drones, then we will provide it as a service-based model to all transmission utilities in the country,” Agarwal added.
Earlier, Sterlite had entered into tie-up with US-based Erickson to use the latter’s heavy-lift choppers for erecting towers in mountainous regions.The heli-crane is currently being used in the mountainous terrains of Jammu and Kashmir for tower erection. The companies intend to provide the heli-crane on a service model to other infrastructure companies in the country.SPTL has introduced several other aerial technologies in the country like Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) for ground surveys.