India’s link to electric power

PEi speaks with the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers Association (IEEMA) about some key issues affecting India’s electrical product industry and its role in helping in bring ‘power to all’ by 2012.

Dr Heather Johnstone, Senior Editor

Despite what is happening in the rest of the world, India remains relatively untouched by the current global economic downturn. Its economy continues to grow at a healthy seven per cent.

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An integral part of this country’s continued economic development is the expansion of is electric power sector. When it gained independence in 1947, the country inherited a modest 1300 MW of installed capacity. Today, according to the latest figures from the Central Electricity Authority, this stands at more than 147 00 MW. Undoubtably a phenomenal feat, but demand for electricity still far outstrips supply.

India is currently halfway through its 11th Five-Year Plan, which has the ambitious goal of ‘Power for All by 2012’. This will require installed generation capacity to be enhanced by an additional 78 000 MW.

In contrast to previous five-year plans, the current plan appears to be progressing well, and a major reason behind that that the political will is there. The right to have electricity is now a highly time-sensitive issue, and not providing it as a matter of priority is no longer a option for the government. India has ambitious plans for new coal and nuclear builds, greater exploitation of India’s vast hydro resources and more power generated by renewables, such as wind and solar power.

However, to be able to provide power for all in a country that has a population which exceeds one billion, another essential component will have to be a significant expansion of the regional transmission networks (i.e. rural electricifcation) and the greater development of inter-regional capability to transmit power. The 11th five-year plan does indeed set a high priority on developing inter-regional transmission highways, which is expected to increase to over 37 500 MW by 2012, and represents an investment of Rs140 crore ($29 million). Rural electrification via the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) scheme is another priority.

One association that is actively working with the Government of India’s Ministry of Power to help achieve this is the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers Association (IEEMA), and PEi recently had the opportunity to meet with Vimal Mahendru, vice president – IEEMA and Raj Eswaran, an member of IEEMA’s Executive Council.

IEEMA in a Nutshell

Formed back in 1948, IEEMA is the professional body of the country’s transmission and distribution (T&D) industry, and it represents over 90 per cent of the domestic manufacturers of electrical, professional electronics and allied equipment.

The association structure comprises an elected Executive Council, made-up of representatives of its members companies, and 11 divisions, which based on products or sector specific groups, such as cables, meters, rotating machinery, switchgear, transformers and T&D projects. There are also committees and cells which give advice on exports, taxation and quality standards.

IEEMA’s main areas of activity are working closely with the government on successful implementations of initiatives, such as the RGGVY scheme, networking with global industry associations to develop international cooperations, promoting the ‘Made in India’ brand, as well as developing quality and productivity benchmarks, and organizing seminars, workshops, events and training programmes.

Rural Electrification

The India electrical equipment industry continues to exhibit strong growth. According to IEEMA, in the first half of this year the industy grew by almost nine per cent. This continued growth reflects in part the need to close the existing gap between supply and demand. Furthermore, unlike other industry sectors in the country, such as software and telecommunications, the electrical equipment industry is not dependent on international markets.

In July, India’s new government announced the 2009/2010 Union Budget. According to IEEMA, this budget spells good news for its member companies because it contained a proposal for significant infrastructure investments à‚— airports, hospitals, etc. And to achieve all this will require plenty of electric power.

Another important focus of the Union Budget was the RGGVY Scheme, which is an ambitious rural electrification initiative that is part of the government’s social development programme. Currently, an estimated 40 per cent of India’s population does not have access to electricity. IEEMA believes that in the next few years the government will make the electrification of India’s rural communities a top priority, which again bodes well for the country’s T&D industry.

Export Opportunities

Another area which IEEMA is very active in is facilitating international collaborations, whether it is export or import. Following the liberalization of India’s power market, any company from anywhere in the world can market their products here, so competition is high. Thus, IEEMA also works with its member companies to explore opportunities in international markets. This can involve participation in trade exhibitions and delegation visits abroad, for example. Such types of activity looks to be paying dividends. According to government export statistics, Indian electrical equipment/product exports has increased three fold over the last ten years.

Many of IEEMA’s member companies have evolved into world-class manufacturing organizations. India’s small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in particular is looking at two main opportunities outside of the country. Firstly, many are contract manufacturing for major European and American power companies because they can offer equipment which is made to international standards but at a fraction of the cost. Secondly, Indian electrical equipment manufacturers are turning their attention to developing markets, such as Africa or the Middle East, which need high quality but affordable electrical equipment.

With IEEMA’s help, India’s electrical equipment industry is rising to the challenges at home ‘to bring power to all’, as well as the global market.

ELECRAMA: The Meeting place for the global T&D sector

The flagship event organized by IEEMA is ELECRAMA, which is described as the largest exhibition dedicated to transmission and distribution in the world. The first event was held in 1990, and next year sees the nineth outing of the biennial event.

ELECRAMA is a strategic business event, which provides an opportunity to discuss the burgeoning issues of power transmission and distribution, grid management, scalability, as well as a common platform for showcasing power equipment manufactures à‚— from switchgear, transformers, cable, conductors, winding wires to power electronics and design & consultancy. ELECRAMA brings together participants from Europe, America, ASEAN and Middle East.

“ELECRAMA is a dynamic and future-ready place to meet and not just an expo. It has become the world’s largest congregation of the T&D sector, which comes alive with the entire T&D value chain on display, encompassing the global leaders and indigenous technology of specific regions” says Raj Eswaran, chairman of the ELECRAMA Organizing Committee.

ELECRAMA 2010 is being held between 20-24 January 2010 in Mumbai, India.

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