The North East-Agra transmission line, said to be the biggest power transmission line to be built in the country in terms of capacity, is to be inaugurated soon. This is means that cheap power from the hydro-rich North-East can now reach the central part of North India.
A spokesman of the government-owned Power Grid Corporation of India told BusinessLine that the line “is under testing and is likely to be commissioned shortly”. BusinessLine learns that the formal inauguration of the line might happen on September 1.
The multinational giant ABB, which has a big play in power transmission infrastructure globally and in India, has built the line for PGCIL.
When it is commissioned, the project will be fully operational – in September 2015, the first phase of the project Biswanathcharlie – Agra line went online, capable of carrying 1,500 MW across 1,728 km, from the Assamese town to Agra.
The leg that will be commissioned soon runs between Alipurduar, in northern West Bengal and Agra, completing the project, so that the full line can carry 8,000 MW, zipping through the lines at a voltage of 800,000 volts. (In contrast, the power that is supplied to homes is about 220 volts.) The project cost ₹12,000 crore.
Confirming the imminent commission of the line, Sanjeev Sharma, Managing Director and CEO, ABB India, told BusinessLine that the ‘Ultra high voltage direct current’ technology that ABB has reduces the land footprint of the line to a third of a conventional (AC) line. Without this, it will be difficult for the line to have passed through the narrow ‘chicken’s neck’ – the Siliguri corridor.
“There is also a provision for reversal (of flow) of power from Agra to the North-East,” a September 2015 press release of ABB said.
The project, which one transmission expert described as “unique and a technological marvel”, because it takes power from two points, that is, Biswanathcharlie and Alipurduar, and dumps it in Agra.
The completion of the project is good news because it will enable better transmission of clean, hydro-power both from the North-East and Bhutan, to consumption centres in north India. Further, because of this line, more projects in the North-East could be planned.
According to the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, the seven far-eastern States have a hydroelectric potential of 60,000 MW, with Arunachal Pradesh alone accounting for 85 per cent of it.
Focus on South
This, incidentally, ABB’s sixth HVDC transmission line project in India, and the company has begun work on the seventh — the Raigarh-Pugalur line — a ₹4,350-crore project that ABB won in January. The line, which runs a distance of 1,830 km between the points in Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu, is longer than the NE-Agra link, but is smaller in terms of transmission capacity. The 6,000-MW capacity line will serve 80 million people.
Importantly, the line will enable easier transmission of renewable energy from the southern States to elsewhere in the country.
ABB’s Sharma said that a notable part of the project is that almost all the components, such as the transformers, gas-insulated substations, breakers and relay panels, are all fully made in ABB’s factories in India.