Strengthening System Reliability while Preserving Biodiversity

June 03 2020

Sterlite Power

 “Biodiversity starts in the distant past and it points towards the future”

Simple, yet powerful; this statement by renowned wildlife photographer Frans Lanting is a constant reminder that if we don’t preserve biodiversity, our future might not look that promising. In the haste to achieve success and development, we often forget that ‘WE’- the humankind, is also an integral part of biodiversity. Development is good and it’s vital for the mankind. However, it must not come at the price of a damaged nature.

Being a leading global developer of power transmission infrastructure, at Sterlite Power, we believe it is our utmost responsibility to make sure that reliable power reaches all sustainably.  Our core purpose - ‘Empowering humanity by addressing the toughest challenges of energy delivery’, is at the heart of everything we do. Our strategy is focused on addressing complex challenges in the sector by tackling the key constraints of time, space and capital.

These are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message that to care for ourselves we must care for nature. In doing so, we often encounter issues that are overcome with technical expertise, guided by our core values and beliefs towards respecting the environment and communities. This World Environment Day, it’s Time for Nature and here is a look at a recent example of a project where despite unique challenges that came forth, we consciously made a difference.

The Project Background

Tamil Nadu: Uprate Project-HPC Reconductoring in Kundha (PH2)-Thudiyalur -110 kV DC Line.

Nestled in the blue hills of the Nilgiri mountains, at an elevation of 2876 feet[1] is the Kundah (PH 2) Hydro Power station. The powerhouse’s water source is the Kundah forebay dam and its forebay capacity is 1000 cusec. It has an installed capacity of 175 MW and is situated in Geddai, Nilgiris District, 16 KMS from Kundah and 80 KMS From Coimbatore [2].

Limitations in Evacuating Power Optimally from Hydro Power Station

The Kundha (PH2)-Thudiyalur -110 kV DC Line evacuates power from the power station, supplying electricity to Industrial zones in the Coimbatore-Tirupur region. However, power evacuation was being curtailed due to inability of the existing transmission line to carry the required load. Additionally, maintenance of the existing line was very high, even as availability remained poor. Of the 85 ckms span of the line, around 28.5 ckms passed through the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, an international biodiversity hotspot. We knew that getting clearance for construction of a new line in this area would be a major problem.

Boosting Power Ampacity and Strengthening System Reliability

Sterlite Power’s teams assessed the issue and concluded that the solution lay in uprating the existing line. By uprating the line, the power ampacity of the existing corridor by over 55%. Power losses were also reduced, thereby strengthening the line’s system reliability. Additionally, uprating the line with a new high-performance conductor reduced the sag, which in turn increased the clearance from av. 5.5m to av.7.5 m.. This was particularly significant as the line traverses a forest reserve and has an active elephant corridor. The reduction in sag made this line safer from the dangerous prospect of electrocution. Significantly, despite the difficult hilly terrain and dense forest, all these challenges were overcome at a record pace, with just 97 shutdown days. The project was delivered 3 months ahead of scheduled completion time, in a 12 month contract. We ensured focussed effort on completing the work traversing the 28.5 ckms in the bio-diversity reserve in just 25 shutdown days.

Social Impact: Special Care to Avoid Damage to Flora and Fauna

At Sterlite Power, ‘Respect’ is one of our core values. We believe in ‘living’ our values and this is always reflected in our project executions. Given the fact that this project passed through a biodiversity, forest reserve area, we knew, that special planning would be required in order to ensure adequate respect to our surroundings and the local communities.

Project planning – Preserving the Sanctity of the Wildlife Corridors

The presence of an active elephant corridor in the reserve was one of the main aspects to be considered during project planning and execution. We wanted to ensure that our project operations did not disrupt wildlife movement in the area and were determined to avoid causing them any disturbance. We leveraged the knowledge of the tribal communities who live in harmony with nature and wildlife in that area and used their guidance to navigate the forest and track the movement of the wild elephants. Pathways leading to watering holes were mapped out and special care was taken to avoid parking vehicles or having any construction material near those areas. Due care was taken to avoid any destruction to the greenery and vegetation. All movements during the day were conducted with minimum noise and communications were carried out by radio, to minimise noise at the workstation level.

Conclusion:

A couple of critical factors aided in ensuring the completion of this project in record time. The utility, TANTRANSCO ’s local knowledge of the forest department’s ways of working, wildlife movements and nuances of working in a dense tropical forest was a major force multiplier to the project teams. The project at TANTRANSCO’s end was handled at the highest leadership levels (E.g. SE’s, EE’s, AE’s and AEE’s), all of whom had extensive knowledge of power systems and the local geography and topography of the line traversing through the reserve.

With the sustainable planning and execution of this project, Sterlite Power was able to close to 1.5 lakh people along the line of Coimbatore-Tirupur region were benefitted with reliable and quality power. Projects like these give us a deep sense of satisfaction. At Sterlite Power we believe that power should be a fundamental right for all citizens globally. Access to reliable, quality and sustainable power is an absolute must to meet the socio-economic development aspirations of the country. We are privileged to partner our customers and we are honoured to play a crucial role in helping State transmission utilities to create tremendous social impact, by delivering power.

Author:

Manish Agarwal, CEO-Solutions Business, Sterlite Power 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s/) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sterlite Power.