• Electrical India
  • Jan 5, 2017

Interview with V S Nandakumar, Director General, CPRI

Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) is the power house of the Indian electrical industry. Set up in 1960 by the Government of India, it functions as a centre for applied research in electrical power engineering – assisting the electrical industry in product development and quality assurance. In an exclusive e-interview with Electrical India, V S Nandakumar, Director General, CPRI, is fielding questions from P K Chatterjee. Excerpts...


What are the priority research areas for CPRI at present?

  CPRI carries out R&D in four different conventional sectors viz. Thermal Generation, Hydro Generation, Transmission and Distribution.

  Advanced Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) based Condition Assessment (CA) and Remaining Life Assessment (RLA) of plant components, Ultra Super Critical (USC) and Adv - USC Plants, IGCC technology and Waste Heat Recovery Systems are some of the thrust areas under Thermal Engg. Vortex rope mitigation, Renovation, Modernization and up-gradation (RMU), Silt erosion, Transient operation are some of the thrust areas under Hydro Generation. Design and development of equipment for 1200kV UHV AC System, Development of controllers for FACTS devices, data analytics in Energy Domain, Smart Grid, Novel Forecasting Techniques for renewable energy, Innovative solutions to demands of real time security analysis of transmission grids, cyber security, Transmission Towers with reduced Right of Way, Composite insulators are some of the areas that are being investigated/ planned to be investigated under transmission research. Distribution Automation, measures to reduce energy losses, Advanced Metering, micro grids and suitable control mechanism, Energy storage: electrical and thermal storage with enhanced charge-discharge efficiencies and new technology routes, Integration of renewable energy being some of the thrust areas under the Distribution Research.

  Recently, CPRI has forayed into R&D in efficient lighting with its LED research scheme, which is a joint initiative of CPRI and BEE.

What kind of certificates do you offer to the Indian companies?

  CPRI has built up expertise to cater to the entire gamut of services required by the Power Sector covering Generation, Transmission and Distribution under one roof. CPRI houses unique facilities for High Power Short Circuit Testing of power equipment, evaluation of EHV/UHV equipment upto 1200kV rating, Power Cables and Accessories, HV & LV Power Capacitors, Power Systems Studies with Real Time Digital Simulator (RTDS) Facility, Transmission Line Tower & Accessories Testing, Conductor Vibration Studies, Seismic Qualification, Transformer Oil Testing, Materials Characterization, Insulation Properties, Communication Protocol Testing for Power System Automation, Energy Meter evaluation, Testing of Refrigerators, Air Conditioners and domestic electrical appliances Including LED and SPV Lighting Systems.

  We carryout testing of all kinds of electrical power equipment as per various national and international standards for ensuring reliability & stability of power system and issue test certificates/reports to Electrical Manufacturers and Utilities across the country.

Are the CPRI certificates valid internationally?

  Yes. Many overseas manufacturers across the world test their products in CPRI and get the test certificates. CPRI Certificates are widely accepted in many countries. The main reasons for such wide acceptance apart from good testing infrastructure and expertise are national/international accreditations like:

• ISO/IEC 17025
• Intertek ASTA - UK
• MEMBER STL
• ISO 9001:2008 for R&D and Consultancy projects
• INMETRO Brazil
• Kingdom of Bahrain
• Corporate Member in

a) DLMS UA (Device Language Message Specification User Association)
b) UCA IUG (Utility Communication Architecture International User Group)

What are the latest additions to CPRI’s testing capacity?

  CPRI has been upgrading, augmenting its test facilities and additional test facilities being created based on the growing needs of Indian Power Sector. To name a few:

• Centre of excellence for simulation of Power System & Failure analysis
• Centre of excellence for Dielectric Studies
• Centre for Advanced Research in the area of Energy Efficiency & Energy Audit
• Centre for excellence of Life Cycle Management & Condition Assessment of HV substation & power plant electrical Equipment
• Test facilities for Pre-qualification test on 400kV XLPE Cable
• Modernisation of Short Circuit Test Facilities and Augmentation of Power Transformer Test Facilities
• 1200kV AC & DC Test facility at Ultra High Voltage Research Laboratory (UHVRL), CPRI Hyderabad.
• Solar PV Panel, Solar light, Solar pumping and LED light test facility at Bangalore.
• Test facilities for testing of CRGO and CRNGO electrical steels for transformer applications.
• Battery testing facilities
• APFC Panels testing facilities
• Smart meter testing facilities
CPRI is also adding new test facilities under XII Plan Capital project scheme. To name a few:
• Augmentation of High power short circuit test facilities by adding two additional 2500 MVA Generators at Bangalore Unit.
• 350 MVA online Short circuit test station at Hyderabad Unit.
• Setting up of new regional testing laboratory at Nashik.
• Smart grid research laboratory at Bangalore Unit.
• Test facility for solar based Grid tied Inverter systems (up to 50kVA) and solar PV modules (up to 500 Wp)

What are the emerging areas where CPRI have started offering consultation these days?

• Development of 1200kV system in India,
• Establishment of NHPTL at Bina (Mgmt. consultant)
• Pollution mapping studies
• Smart Grid - SCADA/EMS/DMS consultancy
• Power System Design and Operational Studies
• Loss minimization in power distribution networks of utilities and Industries
• Energy Efficiency Labelling, Energy Audits for utilities
• Remaining Life Assessment (RLA) of Thermal & Hydro power
• Diagnostic testing of generators and substation equipment
• Coal & Ash analysis
• Conductor vibration studies and Seismic qualification studies
• Tower testing
• Transformer oil reclamation

Recent initiatives

• Development of STATCOM for Bhilai Steel plant
• High Temperature Superconducting (HTS) fault current limiter
• Innovative biomass gasification boiler

Do you have any plans to promote MSME segments?

  CPRI offers discount to MSME manufacturers on the testing charges to encourage them to carry out more tests in CPRI.

What are CPRI’s action plans to make our prime minister’s vision ‘Make in India’ materialise?

  As part of the R&D carried out under the National Perspective Plan, the motto has always been product/process developments with indigenous technologies. To this end, CPRI has collaborated with various industries of repute like BHEL, CDAC Trivandrum, NML etc. in the past through various R&D projects. Indigenous prototypes had been developed as part of those earlier associations. At present, CPRI is in collaboration with CSIR-Central Institute of Mining & Fuel Research, Dhanbad and ISM, Dhanbad for a project with the aim to develop Selection Methodology for Road Header and Tunnel Boring Machine in Different Geological Conditions for Rapid Tunneling. This is a first of its kind project that will be carried out in India and will help the Indian industry at large. CPRI has also collaborated with IISc and CDAC for a project with the aim to develop power conversion and control technologies for renewables and hybrid microgrids. CPRI has collaborated with Raychem RPG Pvt. Ltd. for development of Low Cost Silicon Rubber Insulator for 11 kV applications. The resulting product can also find huge demand in International Market. CPRI has collaborated with IIT Madras to develop Polymer Nano-composite Materials to be used for EHV DC transmission line insulators and diagnostics adopting Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS).

What are your contributions towards reduction of carbon footprint in Indian power industry?

  In the light of the requirement to cut-down on carbon foot-prints, CPRI has taken up R&D on renewable energy, waste to energy etc. in a big way. CPRI has several on-going projects on renewable energy. Apart from this, one of the In-House R&D Project aims to develop a lab scale microwave based plasma gasification reactor technology suitable for Multi-Fuel Gasification in the Indian Context. The developed reactor will convert organic waste into combustible syngas for electric power and thermal energy. As part of another project undertaken under the National Perspective Plan, an innovative biomass gasification boiler has been designed. The project aims to grow enhanced biomass using sewage water and convert the same into electrical power through biomass gasification boiler. Apart from this various R&D Projects on renewable energy forecasting and development of inverters/converters for solar/wind integration to the Grid, are under execution.

What is your message to the Indian Power Community?

  With the planned reforms in the distribution sector and renewed target for integrating 175 GW of renewable energy to the Grid coupled with increasing thrust on energy savings by way of replacing all incandescent/CFL/Tube lights with LED bulbs, India’s power sector is on the cusp of a new age expected to be marked by meaningful innovation and improved efficiency. The adoption and absorption of newer technologies suited to the Indian condition will have a major role to play in achieving improved efficiency. The future calls for greater cooperation and synergy among all the stake holders of the Indian Power Sector. Together, we definitely can achieve the dream of 'Make in India' and ensure 24/7 power for all.