“ERDA to set up a Centre of Excellence…”

Electrical Research and Development Association (ERDA) is a not-for-profit professional Organisation. The organisation’s services are provided under three business verticals namely “Testing & Evaluation”, “Field Services” and “R&D and Expert Services”. In an exclusive e-interview with Electrical India (EI), Hitesh Karandikar, Director, ERDA, replies the questions sent by P. K. Chatterjee, Editor, EI. Excerpts…

What do you feel about the journey of the Indian power sector?

It is indeed a remarkable journey for India from being a “Power deficit” country to emerging as a “Power surplus” country. The peak demand deficit was about 12,159 MW (9.0%) and the average energy shortage in the country was about 87 Billion kWh (8.7%) during the 1st year of 12th plan i.e. 2012-13. Presently for all practical purposes, we meet our peak power demand of
133 GW easily.

The growth of Renewable energy installed capacity is also astounding. The installed capacity as on 31st March 2016 from renewable energy sources was 42,849 MW, whereas the same as on 30th April 2020 is 87,268 MW.

Difficulty in the acquisition of land for construction of a substation and obtaining Right of Way for laying transmission lines are changing the transmission sector drastically. In the transmission sector, 765kV AC Transmission lines and +/- 800KV HVDC lines are new normal now instead of 400kV Transmission lines as during the beginning of the 12th Plan. GIS substations, even up to 765kV, are coming up in equal proportion to the AIS substations nowadays. ACSR & AAAC conductors are being replaced by HTLS conductors. Polymer insulators have replaced traditional porcelain insulators. One Nation One Grid has been successfully implemented.

In the distribution sector, 100% of villages are powered with electricity with a focus on improving the metering efficiency through smart meters. Even the power generation and distribution of the remote and isolated localities have been solved through Decentralized Distributed Generation and Smart Grid. However, the financial health of public utilities is still a cause of concern due to varied reasons.

How is ERDA transforming itself to cater to the emerging needs of the Indian electrical industry?

ERDA has always maintained pace with the changing electrical industrial scenario. ERDA is the first Indian laboratory to get BIS accreditation for Smart Meter testing as per IS 16444: 2015 way back in April 2016. We have also got accreditation for DLMS COSEM communication protocol testing facility for smart meters. Today, we test more than 50% of India’s Smart Meters.

Similarly, we have set up a communication protocol testing facility as per IEC 61850 for communicable IEDs. This facility has become helpful for indigenous manufacturers of communicable protection relays
in India.

We have also set up India’s first High Temperature Low Sag (HTLS) conductor testing facilities, for which Indian manufacturers earlier travelled to foreign countries. This facility will give a great fillip to Indian manufacturers and utilities for HTLS conductor.

In our state of the art High Voltage Partial Discharge laboratory, we have started testing GIS and HV Cables up to 245 kV. In our 10 meters semi-anechoic chamber EMI / EMC testing is done as per commercial and MIL standards so that local manufacturers can develop global standard products and export them to the global market or use them for our indigenous defence manufacturing sector.

When quality control order on Distribution Transformer as per IS:1180 was promulgated, we were inundated with a deluge of distribution transformer type test requirement. ERDA stood up to this challenge and increased its testing capacity by manifolds. Today we are happy to inform you that ERDA conducts more than 75% of Distribution Transformer type tests of India.

How is ERDA serving the LED and their control gear manufacturers?

ERDA is having state of the art type ‘C’ Goniophotometry & Sphere photometry facilities in its photometry testing laboratory for testing of all types of LED lamps and luminaries along with facilities of LED control gear, EMI/EMC & IP testing laboratory under one roof at Vadodara. These facilities are accredited by NABL (Govt. of India).

ERDA conducts Certification testing for BIS Compulsory Registration Scheme (CRS) scheme notified by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). Certification testing for white LED (W-LED) based solar lighting system as per MNRE Specifications approved by MNRE (Govt. of India.) is also conducted at ERDA. Moreover, ERDA is empanelled with EESL & BEE for energy-efficient LED lighting testing as per EESL & BEE test protocol.

ERDA supports LED lamp and luminaries manufacturers, including small scale sector manufacturers, by providing Developmental / Verification tests before submission of the product for a final type test, to verify the important design parameters.

What is ERDA’s contribution to support motor development and diagnostic?

ERDA offers expert services related to Motor Diagnostic and Motor development/upgradation of design to meet the energy efficiency challenges.

During our expert services on Motor through integrated Condition Monitoring, we conduct MCSA, Vibration Analysis and Acoustic Emission Analysis. We have found out that the majority of issues at the site were related to the Misalignment of the rotor shaft with the load shaft. These issues were diagnosed with our integrated condition monitoring expert services and due to this early detection, the consequential damage to motor bearings and downtime was reduced. These services are regularly offered to power plants, process plants and cement industries.

ERDA also offers expert services for the design upgradation to meet the energy efficiency challenges and new application challenges like Textiles and e-vehicles. ERDA has offered various designs to small scale industries in Ahmedabad and Surat region to meet these specific application challenges including the energy efficiency. ERDA has offered their expert services to various small scale industries to develop their own motors for e-vehicle applications. ERDA has also developed high-efficiency IE3 & IE4 Induction Motors and these technologies are available for commercialization.

Is ERDA taking any initiative to address onsite condition monitoring needs of transformers?

ERDA through its Research & Development vertical continuously develops new technologies as per the emerging need of the electrical industry. ERDA has thus developed a new technology of “Online Fault Sensor for Distribution Transformers”. A sensor for the transformer has been designed that senses hydrogen gas emitted as a result of fault inside the transformer. This sensor is to be installed in addition to Buchholz relay. It has two components 1) Sensor Head and 2) Display cum Control Unit. It operates on the principle that during a fault when evolved hydrogen gas reaches sensing element positioned in the sensor head, it gets detected and an equivalent electrical signal is produced, which is transferred to control unit for further action depending on the severity of the fault. This patented economically suitable technology is available for commercialization.

Is ERDA organising any training programme?

ERDA conducts workshops on various evaluation and other technical topics with both theoretical and practical sessions from time immemorial. These workshops are widely popular among manufacturers, utilities, industries and laboratory personnel. This year due to COVID-19 pandemic, there is a restriction of movement among our customers. Hence, ERDA conducted various online webinars and workshops, even during the initial lockdown periods, for the benefit of our customers. We have received tremendous response and participation for these webinars and workshops. This positive response has encouraged us to plan more webinars and workshops than last year. The latest calendar of these workshops is available on our website www.erda.org.

How is ERDA offering its service to the regional countries?

ERDA is well known and widely accepted for its authentic test reports in the SAARC countries, Middle East, Far East and African countries. Even the world’s best-known certification agencies e.g., Intertek (ASTA), UL, KEMA, CSA, TUV etc., have accredited ERDA as their evaluation partner. Middle East countries like Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Far East countries like Malaysia accept ERDA’s test reports. Among our neighbours, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka accept ERDA Test reports. Moreover, ERDA engineers regularly visit Middle East countries to conduct onsite testing and calibration jobs. ERDA is thriving to expand its horizon to other countries across the world.

What are the future plans of ERDA in brief?

In the field of testing and evaluation, ERDA has set-up a state-of-the-art High Temperature Low Sag (HTLS) conductor testing facility at Vadodara. Presently India is having no HTLS conductor testing facility and manufacturers have to travel abroad for testing of such conductors. This facility is expected to be operational by August 2020.

ERDA is also setting up complete type testing facility of Solar PV Panels as per IS 14286 and IS / IEC 61730 at Vadodara. This project is expected to be completed by December 2020.

ERDA will be upgrading its existing 600kV Partial Discharge Test Facility to 900kV and has planned to set up a Climatic Test facility for Dry Type Transformer, Fully Automatic Transformer Test System. ERDA is also planning to upgrade its Conducted immunity and Radiated immunity test facility under EMI/EMC Testing facility. ERDA is also acquiring Portable Accurate Transformer Loss measuring system for onsite testing of Power Transformers.

However, the dream project of ERDA is to set up Centre of Excellence for Medium Voltage Short Circuit Laboratory for testing of Medium Voltage Switchgear equipment and Power Transformers up to 50 MVA, 132kV. ERDA believes it to be a project of national importance. This project is having an outlay of
around Rs. 600 Cr. Financial closure of this project is awaited from the Government of India and Government of Gujarat.

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