All regions linked, yet miles to go for better power flow
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On New Year's Eve, the power ministry announced the commissioning of a key transmission link that would mark the integration of the southern region with the electricity grid in the rest of the country. The ministry said the commissioning of the Raichur-Solapur 765 kV single-circuit transmission line has been achieved by the state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), interconnecting the southern grid synchronously with the rest of the National Power Grid and facilitating "bulk transfer of power across regional boundaries".
The single link may have been commissioned, but this is unlikely to increase the power import capability of the southern region anytime soon. This is because a second-circuit Raichur-Solapur line, which is a crucial buffer for putting the transmission link into operation, is not ready yet. Plus, many PGCIL transmission lines leading up to Solapur and going beyond Raichur are not ready either, and without these the single line cannot be optimally utilised.
Experts involved in the exercise have described the move of announcing the commissioning of the single-circuit line as a hurried exercise by PGCIL to be eligible to recover the requisite transmission tariff, without there being any tangible benefit for stakeholders in either the south or the rest of the country.
The commissioned line, despite a 2,500-MW wheeling capacity on paper, will be allowed to carry "equalising power" — electricity required to even load fluctuations out — to the tune of 800 MW only. If power flows were to exceed this, the line could trip. Even when the second circuit line is ready, experts say it will not be possible to increase power flows beyond 800 MW unless the associated lines of PGCIL on either side of Raichur and Solapur are commissioned. Further, it is also learnt that the necessary safeguards for operating the grid for the whole country as a single synchronised entity — the entire grid running at the same frequency — have not been implemented. These include measures such as tightening the frequency band and rolling out automatic frequency responses.
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