January 11, 2014
New technology and products are set to drive the Indian power sector, according to Subir Pal, who heads Country Business Development and Marketing at ABB India Ltd. In an interview with Business Line, Pal talks about the new opportunities and challenges for the power and equipment company in the country. Excerpts:
A: While we believe the industry is not performing as it should because investments have slowed down, there is a large uptake in the power distribution segment and slight upturn in the grid stability space.
We hope 2014 will be a better year than 2013 with more stability in governance and policy-making, which will help companies perform better.
A: The company has developed solar pump invertors locally — these were tested in Rajasthan. This has huge implications. We hope States will adopt it in a major way. Taking this product abroad may not happen soon because the conditions are different from those in rural India. Our global R&D and engineering centre, located in Bangalore, is helping develop products suited for the domestic market. It also allows us to carry out constant upgrades of our existing products. We have about 1,000 engineers working in both Bangalore and Chennai centres.
A: We are constantly churning out new products from our manufacturing plants in India. We plan to manufacture GIS (gas insulated switchgear) of up to 400 KV, which are huge space-savers. We are also going to make dry type transformers, which are normally used in data centres as they are safer, especially in buildings, compared with oil cooled transformers. Dry type transformers are more expensive but are preferred more.
A: Gujarat and Maharashtra have responded well to smart grid initiatives and floated some projects on a pilot basis. There are also Central government initiatives for grid reliability, after last year’s grid collapse in North India. There is a lot of focus on grid reliability by agencies like PGCIL (Power Grid Corp of India Ltd). So, smart grids are being driven by both the Centre and the States. The value of contracts we are seeing for setting up smart grids range between Rs 100 crore and Rs 200 crore.
A: This is of course a constant challenge. The young graduates who come out of engineering colleges need to be trained before they can imbibe all these technologies. As we have technology centres in the country, we have a huge amount of expertise available to train people. So, this is not a very significant challenge for us.