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Reliable power is important to India’s economic prosperity

Venugopal Pillai ,  Thursday, November 01, 2012, 17:13 Hrs  [IST]

Dave Bryant— Dave Bryant, Director - Technology, CTC Global Corporation

US-based CTC Global Corporation has developed and owns the rights to the highly efficient ACCC (aluminium conductor composite core) technology. Recently, CTC completed its first installation in India in association with its Indian partner Sterlite Technologies Ltd. In this exclusive exchange, Dave Bryant discusses the ACCC technology and how it fits perfectly into India's growing need for high-efficiency power transmission lines. Bryant asserts that ACCC technology can contribute to bring about much needed efficiency to the Indian grid. An interview by Venugopal Pillai.

Tell us more on Torrent's 132kV power transmission line in Gujarat - CTC's first ACCC conductor deployment in India.
Torrent Power Ltd is one of the leading private electrical utilities in the Indian power sector. Torrent wanted to double the capacity of an existing 132kV transmission line between two substations in Ahmedabad, one of the major cities in Gujarat in the western part of India, without the need to reinforce or modify existing lattice structures. Torrent's selection of ACCC® over other conductor options was based on its low energy loss feature which, according to Torrent, directly contributes to their bottom line. Torrent has taken leadership role in India's adoption of high capacity, high efficiency conductors, and CTC Global believes that the important step they have taken will add confidence in ACCC conductor throughout India.

With the collaboration agreement with Sterlite in place and your first project commissioned, how do you see the future for ACCC in India?
Like many other countries worldwide, India's demand for affordable and reliable power is important to its economic prosperity. Earlier this year, India experienced the worst blackout ever recorded, impacting an estimated 670 million people. The ACCC conductor's ability to double the current carrying capacity of an existing transmission corridor without requiring structural modifications makes it a very costeffective way to upgrade and stabilize the Indian power grid.

Another key advantage to the use of ACCC conductor compared to any other conductor of the same diameter and weight is that the ACCC conductor reduces line losses under any load condition by 30 to 40 per cent. This substantial reduction in line losses allows the utility to deliver more power to its customers with less generation investment/resource. Similarly, fuel consumption can be reduced, which in many cases can also reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions.

We understand that government-owned power transmission utilities can be a big business opportunity given major "reconductoring" works always on hand. How do you view this public sector market in India?
CTC Global believes that power companies, both public and private, have a strong appreciation for modern, cost-effective technologies that can improve the efficiency, capacity and reliability of their transmission assets. While it takes time for such a large and conservative industry to fully appreciate the attributes of any new technology, the ACCC conductor has been extensively tested, widely deployed and proven at over 220 project sites worldwide.

For example, American Electric Power (AEP), having completed eight ACCC installations in the last seven years, recently signed an agreement with CTC Global to purchase about 2,700 kilometers of ACCC conductor for a single project in Texas (a 345kV reconductoring project that will remain energized during the installation). CTC Global believes that as Indian utilities gain more experience with new technologies such as ACCC, they, like AEP, will deploy them on larger scale projects.

CTC Global also believes that the recent blackout in India will prompt Indian utilities to take necessary steps toward upgrading their grid, which in many ways can be accomplished by using ACCC. As such, CTC Global sees a paradigm shift in the approach of the public sector market in India toward the adoption of technologies including ACCC. A few states have adopted it already, and a few others are in the final stages of adoption.

Coming to the technology, can you summarize and quantify the technical advantages of ACCC over conventional conductors like ACSR, HTLS, etc?
ACSR is a conductor that consists of a number of steel core strands surrounded by conductive aluminum strands. The steel strands are used to improve the conductor's overall strength. There are also a variety of other conventional conductor types that rely on higher strength aluminum alloys to increase overall conductor strength, but the conductivity and efficiency of the alloy typically decreases as their strengths increase.

High-Temperature Low-Sag (HTLS) conductors such as ACSS, ACCR, INVAR, GAP and others offer increased operating temperatures and reduced thermal sag. Unfortunately, line losses increase exponentially at higher operating temperatures, so, while some initial capacity increases and cost savings may be realized, in the long term, line losses can prove to be very costly, especially when you consider the cost of the generation asset required to support those losses. Internationally, it is well recognized that it is cheaper to save a "megawatt" than it is to produce a megawatt.

ACCC ConductorAt the "core" of it, is ACCC a case of carbon scoring over steel?
Hybrid carbon fiber composites offer several advantages over steel, which are well recognized in the aerospace, automotive, marine and many other industries where efficiency, performance and reliability are extremely important. Carbon fiber composites offer increased strength, lighter weight, corrosion resistance, a very low coefficient of thermal expansion, and, most importantly, excellent resistance to cyclic load fatigue. All of these attributes and others help elevate the performance of the ACCC conductor above any other conductor type of the same diameter and weight.

The ACCC conductor's greater strength, dimensional stability and excellent self-damping characteristics allow it to accommodate greater spans between fewer and/or shorter structures which can serve to reduce up-front capital costs and construction challenges on new lines. The ACCC conductor's added aluminum content compared to other conductors of the same diameter and weight helps increase capacity and reduce line losses.

We hear of a new-age conductor AAAC being used extensively in Europe. How does ACCC compare?
All Aluminum Alloy Conductors are not new, but because they don't use a steel core, they, like ACCC, are less prone to corrosion. Generally speaking, AAAC coefficients of thermal expansion, operating temperature ranges and strength limitations restrict the applications for which they can be considered. That said, like many of the modern conductors, AAAC can outperform ACSR conductor in many cases. To truly evaluate the benefits between any two conductors for a specific project, CTC Global has developed the CCPTM software program (offered at no charge) that can allow a system planner or a line engineer to compare the electrical, mechanical and financial impact of almost any conductor.

Tell us how has been the growth of ACCC globally since its launch in 2005. Which countries are currently your biggest markets?
According to Electric Power Research Institute (US) data, the ACCC conductor has been more widely deployed compared to any other newly developed conductor on the market today in the same time period. To date, CTC Global has delivered more than 14,000 km of conductor to over 220 project sites in 24 countries.

How do you view the market in India vis-à-vis other emerging economies, mainly China? Is China home to any of CTC's ten manufacturing partners?
China and India both represent substantial markets for ACCC conductor due to the growing demand for affordable power. CTC Global currently has two licensed stranding partners in China.

India's power transmission ambitions currently involve highvoltage technology like HVDC, UHVAC, etc. How does ACCC fit into this scheme?
The ACCC conductor was initially developed to increase the capacity of thermally constrained transmission lines typically operating at or under 400kV due to the conductor's superior resistance to thermal sag. However, its high strength, light weight, improved efficiency and resistance to cyclic load fatigue also make it ideally suited for higher voltage applications where upfront capital costs, life cycle costs and reliability are paramount concerns.

Kindly summarize CTC's way forward in India in the medium term.
CTC Global is making great strides in India to learn the needs of the utilities and better understand how the ACCC conductor technology can help them improve the efficiency, capacity and reliability of their grid, which is currently plagued with a high amount of power loss. While a number of other alternatives are available, the utilities that are learning about ACCC and gaining confidence in its measured performance are realizing that its economics are hard to beat. CTC Global will continue to share its expertise and develop strong relationships with the Indian utilities and others worldwide. CTC Global also plans to serve the Indian utilities by providing them with the most economical solution to upgrade their grid and reduce overload. To support this objective, CTC Global has also published an Engineering Manual and developed a software program (CCP™) that it offers to utility personnel and transmission engineers at no charge. In addition to engineering support, CTC Global provides installation training and other services.
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