Switchgear – Preparing for a Sea Change

How we can expect the Indian switchgear industry to evolve in the future? Here’s an overall analysis of market status, growth drivers and future outlook. - By Subhajit Roy, Group Editor

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Switchgear - Preparing for a Sea Change

The power generation capacity in India has grown at a rate of over 10 per cent in the past few years, while the transmission and distribution network has witnessed a moderate growth. This has translated into a growing demand for robust power system equipment such as switchgear in the country which helps in protecting against situations of overload, short circuit, insulation failure etc. India’s switchgear market is anticipated to witness robust growth due to surging power demand from industrial, commercial and residential sectors and developing infrastructure across various sectors including residential and commercial. “The market for switchgears is well established in India and has the necessary capacity to produce quality switchgear equipment and meet the expected demand from the smart cities,” said AV Jagdish, Senior Vice President, Havells India Ltd.

Syed Sajjadh Ali, Managing Director – India, Electrical Sector, Eaton estimates that the switchgear industry has been growing at a rate of 5-7 per cent. However, as the overall economic growth picks up and the demand for electricity increases, the switchgear industry is expected to gain further momentum. India is still in the grid expansion mode with the government’s primary focus on rural electrification. Ongoing issues with power generating assets and the precarious state of our DISCOMs continue to limit the growth of our industry, observes Syed. Commenting on the recent performance of switchgear industry in India, he adds, “Recently, we have seen increased competition from the unorganised sector in the LV (low-voltage) segment. While this does build a healthy industry ecosystem, the focus on product quality and safety of users should not be compromised.”

According to “India Switchgear (LV, MV, HV) Market Overview, 2018- 2023” report by ResearchAndMarkets. com, the Indian switchgear market is expected to grow with a CAGR of more than 7 per cent in the forecasted period of next 5 years from FY 2017-18 to FY 2022-23. Demand has increased in this sector over a period due to the increase in the demand of new consumption centres and development of various renewable energy sources, informs Sameer Saxena, Director- Marketing, Legrand (Group) India.

On the technology front, there is an upward curve around awareness of connected and digital technologies. However, Syed feels, the adoption and implementation of the same may require longer timelines.

Growth drivers for LV & MV switchgears

It is estimated that the switchgear industry in India will reach Rs. 21,500 crore by 2019 on the back of strong infrastructure development including Smart Cities and various schemes launched by the government in the past like Make in India, Digital India, Integrated Power Development Scheme and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, among others. All these schemes are committed towards development of new infrastructure and revamping of the existing infrastructure in the country thereby improving India’s standing on the global arena, asserts AV Jagdish of Havells India.

He also adds, “The need to have a safe, reliable and efficient power distribution at both micro and macro levels will provide growth opportunities to the low- and medium-voltage switchgear market in India.”

As transmission and distribution networks get upgraded, the switchgear sector witnesses higher demand too, which includes both LV and MV (medium-voltage) switchgears. Today, according to Anil Kadam, General Manager (Solutions Architect) at Schneider Electric, it is imperative to have an entire portfolio of compact and environmentally-sustainable LV and MV switchgears for better growth. He adds, “Rising deployment of smart grid technology and accelerating rural electrification are all poised to be key growth drivers for LV and MV switchgears.” Sameer Saxena of Legrand also opines that the increasing electrification in rural and urban areas of India has fuelled the growing demand for the LV and MV switchgear market. Moreover, he adds, “Increase in the demand of the installed capacity of transmission and distribution network in the power sector of India, China and other countries from Asia Pacific has also triggered the growth of LV and MV switchgear market.”

India is world’s fastest growing major economy. But interestingly we still are a developing country. This positions the power distribution industry for robust growth. At this juncture, we foresee commercial and industrial growth continuing to be the primary driver for the switchgear industry, anticipates Syed Sajjadh Ali of Eaton. He also expects major investments directed at rapidly improving the quality of distribution infrastructure, which would be critical for sustaining the industrial growth rate.

At different levels there are government directives to replace older redundant systems to achieve operational safety, and security in industrial establishments. Under these developments on the consumption side, India is emerging as a significant market for switchgear within the global switchgear landscape. The Indian switchgear market is driving global growth in a market estimated to cross USD 140 billion by 2024.

Switchgear gets renewable energy push

Considering the universal concerns on climate change and global warming, the emphasis is now on deploying technologies that have a minimal carbon footprint and offer sustainable solutions. “The rise of renewable energy and the changes witnessed therein will also be reflected in the switchgear industry, which will need to focus on sustainable, energy-efficient solutions possessing a lower carbon footprint,” says Kadam.

India is aiming to achieve 227 GW of renewable energy capacity by March 2022, much ahead of its target of 175 GW as per the Paris agreement. As India looks to meet its energy demand on its own, renewable energy along with electrical equipment such as switchgears will also play a critical role in achieving the targets.

According to Syed Sajjadh Ali, increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the grid introduces significant challenges in terms of managing peak demand and stability. The only way to address this is through the use of sophisticated demand response methods, distributed energy resource management systems, usage of energy storage systems and to some extent, at least initially, the use of gas and small coal fired power plants. “From a switchgear industry perspective,” Syed says, “We feel the growth of renewable energy will drive customers to deploy intelligent, connected switchgears controlled by artificial intelligence driven management software, which will function autonomously to maintain the grid.”

Further, the rapid advancement in the smart grid technologies and increasing focus towards energy efficient products is giving rise to more intelligent devices and innovative solutions from switchgear manufacturers. Today, the load characteristics are changing, for example, use of LED lamps and higher efficiency motors, which calls for switchgears to evolve in-line with these changes. This is also fuelling switchgear demand by way of replacement of old energy guzzling devices, equipment and the associated switchgear with it, informs Saxena.

Manufacturers switching to green

Schneider Electric possess an entire portfolio of compact, environmentally-sustainable LV and MV switchgears. From medium voltage switchgear and transformers to energy automation, Schneider delivers specific solutions for utilities, oil and gas, mining, data centres and critical buildings, covering all power distribution needs for energy management.

Havells manufactures world-class industrial switchgears that offers close protection of devices such as motors against overload, single phasing etc. The entire range of Havells industrial switchgear include switches, circuit breakers and conventional devices that are designed and manufactured according to world-class standards and the user-friendly wide range of devices are built to meet varied application needs in motors, distribution circuits and automation systems.

Globally, Eaton has been one of the pioneers in developing microgrids, energy storage systems (both at grid scale and behind-the-meter), and power converters or components for the renewable energy segment. The microgrid deployed by Eaton at its India Innovation Center in Pune was the first of its kind in the country. Recently, Eaton has also launched the e-Mobility business group with the objective of building the required infrastructure for a rapid transition to electric vehicles.