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Tech boost for power sector

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Encouraging the IT sector to realise the business opportunity in the power sector, Minister of State for Power, Jairam Ramesh, said on Thursday that the Centre was planning to infuse technology into the power distribution of the country and replicate the success of IT in the power sector.

As much as Rs 50,000 crore has been earmarked to implement the Revised - Accelerated Power Distribution Reforms Programme (R-APDRP) - initiated to bring down the losses in the power sector, he said.

He was speaking at the release of a report titled ‘Technology enabling transformation of power distribution,’ prepared by IT major Infosys and research institution CSTEP, on the request of the Ministry of Power (MoP).

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Nandan Nilekani, Member, Board of Directors, Infosys and Prof. Arunachalam, Chairman, CSTEP, were present at the function.

"IT companies will play a key role in the APDRP by providing necessary solutions", the Minister said. The report suggests a three-step approach to transform power distribution by adoption of technology. According to the report, the first step involves preparation of a roadmap and the second involves RAPDRP.

The third step takes into account various factors and involves development of a smart grid which would be self-healing, adaptive, interactive, secure from attacks, accommodating generation and storage options, supportive of bi-directional energy flow and allowing distribution across geographies and organisational boundaries.

On the go: According to the Minister, marking the beginning of the IT infusion in the power sector, IT major TCS and BHEL have entered into a long-term agreement wherein computational needs of BHEL in designing heavy electrical equipment will be done at a TCS facility in Pune. Another major development expected to take place is the establishment of a power trading exchange which will be set up by companies like NTPC, PFC, NHPC and TCS.

This will be India’s third power trading exchange, in which TCS will play the key role of enabling the functioning of interstate trade by providing software. Highlighting the failure of the APDRP which was initiated during the earlier five year plan, Ahluwalia said that AT and C losses which is a measure of overall deficiency of power distribution losses have not relented and hence the need to carefully implement APDRP version two.

"We cannot go on adding capacity while AT and C losses at 33 per cent go unchecked", he said. "Under the R-APDRP, any DISCOM willing to show improvement will be highly incentivised, whereas others will not, leaving the state concerned with debts", he added.

For the full report, click on:

The Indian IT sector has so far been dependent largely on the export market, particularly of the US. Now, that becoming increasing unreliable, they necessarily have to change course. Ironically, the biggest market for them has always been the domestic one, though, with reforms not even having touched the key infrastructure sectors like power, public bus transport services, water supply, etc, which are largely in the control of generally 'reform-proof' government agencies, they have not been able to make much headway. A recent development, that of awarding of the contract for providing front-end services related to issual of passport to TCS, is a harbinger of hope, both for the industry as well as the citizens.

As for he power sector, there are huge opportunities awaiting the industry, simultaneous with providing world-class services to the consumer (like in the telecom, airlines, banking, insurance sectors, to name a few), for which though a basic imperative is the handing over of the distribution function to the private sector - check:
Towards that heaven of prosperity, my father, let my country awake!   

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