• Electrical India
  • Dec 5, 2016

Interview with Dr M K Shah, Director, ERDA

Electrical Research and Development Association (ERDA) is a cooperative research institution created by the Indian Electrical Industry and Utilities with the support of Governments of India and Gujarat. National in character, ERDA has established its laboratory facilities at Makarpura Industrial Estate, Vadodara. In an e– interview with Electrical India, Dr M K Shah, Director, ERDA, is explaining the facilities that his organisation extends to the Indian electrical equipment manufacturers to P K Chatterjee. Excerpts...     

How do you see India in the global map as far as the latest electrical technologies are concerned?

India can make it to top among the nations as far as the latest electrical technologies are concerned in Generation, Transmission or Distribution. With introduction of new technologies in Generation like of installation of Super Critical Thermal Generation units, MW scale Renewable solar parks, India has touched the total installed capacity of close to 300 GW and generation of almost 800 BU. In Transmission Sector PGCIL has developed indigenous 1200kV station & installation of +/- 800kV DC transmission. To increase the capacity of Transmission Lines, many of utilities have adopted the High Temperature Low Sag Conductors. Distribution in India is largely operated by states. With introduction of key technologies like Smart Metering, APDRP reforms, smart grid projects, Digital Substations by various utilities there has been the reduction in AT&C losses from 35% to 26% against the global avg of 10 to15%.

With the penetration of latest electrical technologies, ERDA is also looking forward to establish the Centre of Excellence for Renewables and Smart Grid having facilities like PMUs Calibrator, Real Time Simulator, Flexi Power Lab for evaluation of power electronic devices used in solar roof tops and evaluation of HTLS conductors.

Has India been truly self-sufficient as far as our calibration and/or R&D needs are concerned?

India is targeting the double digit growth in GDP in coming years. To enable this, it needs support from the power sector, which is witnessing heavy investment. The quality of BTG equipment, power transformers, HV switchgears, insulators manufactured by large companies is compatible with the global competition. Most of R&D needs of these large companies are satisfied by their global R&D centres either based in India or abroad. 90% of companies manufacturing 33kV switch gears and power transformers up to 132 kV and below equipment in T&D sector are SMEs. Some SMEs have kept pace with technology and upgraded their products. However, most of the SMEs have lagged behind in upgrading the technology, and hence quality of products. ERDA has been contributing to this very R&D need of SMEs in terms of product development, evaluation and contract research.

There is also need for High Power Test Laboratory for medium voltage class switchgear & 132 kV power transformers in India – in order to provide full range short circuit testing for the power equipment manufacturers and utilities. Bina Facility is coming up with high current fault availability up to 400kV and 765kV.

What are the top research priorities of ERDA at this moment?

ERDA’s Research Programs are based on the needs and challenges faced by the industry. Based on this ERDA has undertaken various research programs on

1. COE of Renewable and Smart Grid
2. COE for R&D in Medium Voltage Switchgear & Transformers
3. Nano Composite/ Fillers to enhance the performance of insulation and contact materials used in electrical products
4. Smart Solar Inverters for Rooftop applications
5. Renewable Energy integration using Micro Grids
6. LED Drivers for enhanced reliability
7. Controllers for Smart Grids
8. Intelligent Diagnostics

What are the benefits of the ERDA members and who can take ERDA membership?

Any individual, firm, institution, body corporate, limited liability partnership, private or public electricity utilities or government electricity department who has subscribed to the Memorandum of Association and who shall fulfill the terms and conditions laid down in these Rules and Regulations shall be eligible to become an Ordinary Member.
ERDA members are entitled for various commercial benefits while availing services from ERDA i.e., Testing, Training, Library facilities apart from receipt of regular technical information along with participation in the formulation of policies of ERDA through selection in Managing Committee.

What are the steps that you have taken in the recent past to assist members in a more comprehensive way – as their technology demands are ever growing and diversifying?

Apart from normal testing and calibration services, ERDA also undertakes sponsored research on behalf of its members to augment their new product development initiatives. ERDA also provides developmental test facilities to its members to evaluate their newly developed product design. A lot of small scale industries have been benefitted from such special support provided by ERDA.

What are the latest additions in your facilities?

ERDA’s latest moving mirror type ‘C’ Goniophotometer laboratory, with financial support from Govt. of Gujarat, was inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister of Energy and Agriculture of Govt. of Gujarat, Shri Chimanbhai Saparia on 6th Oct’16. This is having the best in class performance conforming to IES-LM-79-08 and others IS/IEC standards like IS 16106 for SSL (LED) Products, IS 16102(Pt-1 & 2) for LED Lamps, IS 16107 for LED Luminaire IS 16103 for LED Modules & IS 10322(Pt-5/Sec-1 to 5) for Luminaire.

ERDA is also constructing High Voltage Partial Discharge Laboratory for the evaluation of products up to 245kV class with financial support from Govt. of Gujarat.

ERDA has also set up Solar Pump and Solar Inverter Testing Laboratory, supporting Govt. of India’s “Environment Friendly Power.”

ERDA is also in the process of constructing High Temperature Low Sag (HTLS) Conductor Testing Facility, the first of its kind in India. This will support Govt. of India’s “Make in India” campaign.

Please tell me (in brief) about ERDA’s excellent research outcomes (say) in the last two years.

ERDA has developed over 30 technologies since its inception. In past two year ERDA has done significant contribution in developing following technologies.

1. Nano Silver Contacts for LV switchgear
2. Anti-Dust coating for Solar PV Panels
3. Application Development for Thermoplastics in LV Switchgear
4. IE 4 Motor
5. Monitoring of Distribution Transformers using IEEE Thermal Models
6. Community based Charging System for solar lanterns

What kinds of product certification opportunities do you provide?

In India, mainly Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) runs product certification schemes, which are basically of two types e.g., voluntary and mandatory schemes.

The certification allows the licensees to use the popular ISI Mark, which has become synonymous with quality products for the Indian and neighboring markets over the last more than 55 years. Similarly, BIS is operating Compulsory Registration Scheme (CRS) for Electronics & IT Goods for the product categories notified by Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY). The organisation is authorized by BIS to conduct testing of more than 100 nos. products under these certification schemes.

ERDA is an ASTA approved laboratory and it provides Intertek (ASTA) certificate for the export oriented customers as well as International Customers in the GCC region.

Do you support members from all parts of the country? How do you manage to do that?

ERDA supports its members from all over India. Apart from Vadodara, ERDA is also having laboratories at Navi Mumbai (Rabale), Gurgaon and Rajahmundry (Andhra Pradesh) to serve its customers and members. The organisation has spread its Business Development Engineers and TPI Engineers all over India e.g., Kolkata, Lucknow, Meerut, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Indore to serve its members better.

What kind of training programs do you conduct?

ERDA organizes regular and specialized skill development training programs regularly.

It conducted six regular training courses and three special training programs in the year 2015-16. ERDA has so far conduced 310 programs and trained nearly 7264 engineers.

22 nos. internal lectures and 6 nos. invited expert lectures were conducted by ERDA in the year 2015-16. 1500 students from 22 Engineering Colleges from Gujarat made industrial visits to ERDA. 17 students are presently undertaking ITI Apprenticeship in ERDA.

What are your suggestions to the Indian electrical equipment business owners?

In order to manufacture world class products in India to turn the “Make in India” initiative of the government a success, Indian manufacturers must adopt world class quality standards for their products.

Without quality products, Indian manufacturers cannot expect to capture global markets. Also, Indian manufacturers must focus more on new innovations and increase their spend on R&D to develop indigenous products and be ahead of their global competitors.