Improving power transmission and distribution in India’s densely populated cities

ABB’s prefabricated, modular solution of power distribution centers, or eHouses, safeguard the distribution of power with footprint savings of up to 30%.

India has some of the world’s most populous cities, including Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi, each having close to 30,000 people per square kilometer. With such high population density, free space is clearly limited. Multiple transportation networks – buses, trains, metros, taxis – vie for space across these sprawling, congested urban landscapes. Offices, shops, and houses crowd together. In addition there are city quarters rich with heritage architecture where structural change to create additional space is not feasible. These cities are only growing bigger as about 40 percent of the Indian population is projected to reside in urban areas by 2030.

Designing, building and maintaining an infrastructure for efficient and reliable power supply and distribution is a huge challenge in such rapidly growing cities with so little free space. Much of the current power infrastructure has been added ad hoc over time to meet the increased demand as the population and industrial activity grew.  The unruly crisscross of overhead cables, meter-boxes piled together and distribution substations springing up wherever space can be found manifest the growth. These aging infrastructures are unsightly, unsafe and inefficient.

A smart power distribution infrastructure with new technology can enhance the safety of the city’s inhabitants, and enable better monitoring and tracking of electrical transmission losses. About 23 percent of India’s power is lost during transmission and distribution, one of the highest loss rates in the world. Loss rates in countries such as China (six percent) and South Africa (nine percent) are in single digits.

State utilities in India are now adopting innovative technologies to automate and improve power transmission and distribution in these densely populated cities. This is in line with the government’s program of 24×7 reliable “power for all” and the Integrated Power Development Scheme. ABB has provided safe and smart power solutions to the Indian states of Kerela and West Bengal. ABB’s prefabricated, modular solution of power distribution centers (PDCs), or eHouses, safeguard the distribution of power and bring footprint savings of up to 30 percent. The pre-fabricated modular nature of the eHouse is an engineering innovation that optimizes space, reduces construction time and resources, and enhances public safety.

Built to cater to city challenges, PDCs can reduce the total footprint of a power substation by up to 25 percent, depending upon project configurations. Installation time can be approximately 35 percent less than with conventional substations. The PDC’s pre-fabricated modular enclosure that houses medium- and low-voltage switchgear and auxiliary equipment provides a single window for customer coordination for all the products. Minimal site preparation is required as the prefabricated solution includes comprehensive testing at the factory, which enhances safety.

India’s oldest power utility CESC Ltd, located in the state of West Bengal, and the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), in one of the most popular tourist states of the country, have adopted ABB modularized plug and play power distribution centers (PDC) with varying specifications to ensure reliable power supply in densely populated cities. Pre-designed and pre-fabricated to meet specific requirements, PDCs are easily installed in busy city neighborhoods. They can be commissioned within a few hours, often in areas where building a new substation would not be possible due to the lack of viable empty space as well as time constraints.

The cities of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, with more than a hundred historical temples, and Kolkata in West Bengal with a legacy of the British past, are historical places full of old buildings and narrow lanes. Yet with the innovative ABB PDCs installed so far, the cities’ power supplies have been enhanced quickly and easily.

ABB has also installed a PDC for a private utility company in the commercial capital of the country, Mumbai, which has one of the most expensive real estate rates in the world.

Full of rich history, India is embracing the future. The country’s focus on 24×7 reliable power for all and smarter cities will require innovative solutions to meet the need for reliable power distribution in a sustainable manner. ABB eHouses are helping to take the step to reliable power while preserving the country’s rich heritage.

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About the author

CP Vyas

CP Vyas heads the Electrification Products division in India. CP has worked in various roles in ABB India in the power segment including operations, sales and marketing. In his last role as the location head and LBU manager, the given location clocked a significant number of Kaizens and process innovations, some of them have become best practices for global use. He is also an exports champion and has ensured the expansion of market footprint through global feeder factories and product innovations. CP is passionate about ABB technologies which can significantly contribute to the rapid transformation of infrastructure and transportation in India.
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