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India’s Power Sector Evolving with Technology: Ajitabh Sharma

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Ajitabh Sharma

Elets Technomedia, in an effort to bring in light the stepping stones India is talking towards transforming and evolving into a developed nation, organised India Transformation Summit. The three-day virtual conference organised from July 10 to July 12 witnessed discussions on how the country is growing and developing with innovative and effective government moves.

The inaugural session of the India Transformation Summit was themed ‘Good Governance and Innovation for Transformation’. Ajitabh Sharma, Principal Secretary, Energy Department & Chairman DISCOM, RRECL, REDCL, Government of Rajasthan addressed the session with a focus on how innovations are driving transformation in the power sector.

Mr Sharma commenced his address with a brief about the power sector saying, “After the enactment of the Electricity Act in 2003, the generation sector which was delicensed in the year 2003 has settled. Also, private companies stepped in the sector.” Moreover, a lot of investment came in both renewable and thermal power sectors, he added.

Citing issues in the power sector, Mr Sharma said, “The major problem lies with the distribution sector. In some states, a part of the distribution sector is privatised by the real problem lies with the distribution sector as in whole.” In the current times of the COVID pandemic, because of the squeeze in liquidity as the state government in Rajasthan has deferred the recovery of dues from the customers, the distribution company faces a lot of problems, added Mr Sharma.

Adding on to the situation of the power sector especially during the lockdown, Mr Ajitabh Sharma said, “The power sector is the only sector which was made to work and be in business without recovering money. This led to a huge liquidity crunch. In a bid to offer relief, the Government of India and the Rajasthan government played its role by providing some concessions but we in a serious liquidity crunch. However, we somehow managed the survival and now we have started getting money from the consumers.” With the help of loans and some financial assistance from the government institutions, the situation is now better, he added.

“However, many renewable energy projects that we were carrying got a hit and were delayed. But, in the times to come we would be able to take up those in an effective manner”, said Mr Sharma.

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Speaking of innovations in the power sector, Mr Sharma said, “Using Information Technology (IT) in the power sector we have started energy auditing at different levels. We are auditing at 33 kV, 11 kV, then low tension lines. Further, we have stepped in distribution transformer metering.” Under the retail consumer metering, a project worth of around Rs 500 crore has been taken up wherein we are installing smart meters at the retail consumers’ end, he added.

Mr Sharma, further, said, “If we start doing the voltage level assessment and auditing on a large scale, we will be able to identify the technical and commercial losses which the distribution companies are facing.” Adding on the losses of the distribution company, he highlighted that the premier customers are getting out of the nets of power distribution companies. “With the rise in the renewable energy sector and energy-saving mechanism, the power consumption especially of the commercial establishments like malls have gone down. Moreover, in some cases, they prefer to source power directly from the power exchanges or set up their own renewable energy plant such as solar panels. Such moves reduce the power consumption from the distribution company leading to a reduction in their revenues generated”, said Mr Sharma. This makes put pressure on the state and the centre subsidies to keep the power tariffs at the lower end for the poor consumers, he added.

Further, addressing innovations, Mr Sharma said, “Based on the analysis report which we get from the smart metering project we have brought down our losses of around two percent.” Moreover, Rajasthan is one state where the distribution franchisee model has been successfully implemented. There are four franchisees in Kota, Bikaner, Bharatpur and Ajmer, he added.

Mr Sharma said, “Furthermore, we have started direct benefit transfers (DBT) transfer of subsidies to beneficiaries, particularly for the agricultural subsidies in five districts of the state.”

“We have already started using the Aadhar and K no. of the electricity consumer so that the bill amount is being generated to the farmer and the subsidy is transferred directly to the bank account of the farmer”, he added.

Besides these, Mr Sharma said, “Another intervention for reduction we did, Rajasthan has started using RTM opensource platform market and in the last two months we have reduced our power consumption in the line of Rs 100 crore.”

Concluding his address, Mr Ajitabh Sharma stated, “We announced our new solar wind and hybrid policy in 2019… We have brought in changes in new energy policy and are promoting hybrid policies… And we have already started installing 600 MW of hybrid power plant. Adani group has taken up the project.”

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