Towards One Nation – One Grid – One Market


Sterling and Wilson’s T&D segment targets Rs 3000 crore by 2020; continues commitment to ‘One Nation – One Grid – One Market’.

Pix1: Mr P K Paine, COO – Transmission and Distribution Pix2:A typical substation
  • Client

    Transmission & Distribution

  • Services

    To have an installed capacity of 330 GW against an estimated peak demand of 235 GW of which the renewable components is 175 GW.

  • Technologies

    Electric transmission

  • Dates




Transmission and Distribution (T&D) is one of the critical elements in Indian electricity sector given the size of the country and the scattered nature of power generation sources as also load distribution that is uneven. It is crucial for reliable and quality power supply and a sustainable electrical ecosystem.


With a steady rise in electricity demand and development of domestic grids, India is the only major country that is expected to see a significant rise in conventional capacity additions. With the government now keen on making electricity available to all, it is important to modernise the transmission and distribution processes to cut losses and by adopting new technologies.


Sterling and Wilson, one of the dominant players in the T&D space, has a strong order book including under execution projects of close to Rs 1500 crore and aims to reach Rs 3000 crore by 2020. For a division established only in the year 2008, this is no small achievement, but the company has a rich legacy dating back to 1927 when it started as a small electrical works in Mumbai, and became a part of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group in 1973. With presence in MEP, Renewables, T&D, Data Centres, Power and Cogen Solutions, Diesel Generators and IPP, the company has a strong presence in the electrical ecology, and a global footprint spanning all kinds of energy – from fossil fuels and nuclear power to renewables or green power and energy storage – catering to industrial, commercial and domestic consumers.


Speaking on the development of the business at a recent media roundtable, Mr P K Paine, COO – Transmission and Distribution, Sterling and Wilson, said, “For the next financial year, the government has already allocated more than Rs 100,000 crore, which will be shared by power grid, public utilities and private players. Since the commencement of the T&D sector of Sterling and Wilson, the division has had a major turnover of Rs 700 crore approximately. In line with the government efforts, we are foreseeing significant growth and development. With the total market share of T&D expected to be Rs 2,60,000 crore in 5 years, we have been successfully working hand in hand with the Indian government and will continue to see a robust collaboration.”


According to Paine, Sterling and Wilson has the expertise and demonstrated capability to execute transmission line and EHV substation projects up to 765 kVA as also up to 500 kV HV DC, from concept to commissioning along with advanced automation systems, and has successfully executed a number of projects in 132, 220 and 400 kV range, both air insulated substations (AIS) and gas insulated substations (GIS). GIS technology has an edge as it has several advantages over AIS in terms of fast setting up, space saved as well as easy maintenance, and is best suited for underground substations in urban areas. In fact the company is working on many GIS projects in India.


The plan to invest Rs 2.6 trillion referred above over the next 5 years is spread among State, Central and private utilities. This kind of investment is focused on an ambitious plan of the government for ‘One Nation – One Grid – One Market’. This envisages combining all the regional and sub-regional power grids for the optimal utilisation of scarce natural resources. It helps in transferring the power from resource centric regions to load centric regions. In this regard, Sterling and Wilson realised this opportunity early and the company has successfully initiated a path breaking project, which aims at the strengthening of 400 kV systems, spread across five North East states.


“This challenging ongoing project in several phases is currently under execution in the northeast spanning 5 different states including a new 400 kV substation at Imphal plus extension of another 400 kV and 132 kV substations involving supply, erection, testing and commissioning of 500 MVA transformers and works across Silchar, Balipara, Bongaigaon, Misa, Agartala and other places in five states, the substations equipped with state-of-the-art SCADA system,” said Paine. The high capacity transformers and reactor in this case moved from Vadodara to Kolkata and then on a barge to Bangladesh before travelling across that country to again enter northeast India – a six month journey – give an idea to the logistics involved in this project that is now nearing completion.


The plan also seeks to have an installed capacity of 330 GW against an estimated peak demand of 235 GW of which the renewable components is 175 GW. Of this 100 GW is the solar target and close to 20 GW has been achieved so far. “Evacuation of solar power with projects spread across several States calls for an extensive transmission network which opens up new opportunities,” said Paine.


With a career spanning 39 years in the power sector of which the last 20 years have been in T&D, Mr Paine brings in a rich experience of building countless substations including 765 kV units, and adding endless kilometres to the transmission network and hence the right person to talk of challenges in the task. “Infrastructure development for T&D is a real challenge, and securing the right of way (RoW) for transmission lines across all types of terrain like inhabited places, forests, agricultural land, rivers and ravines, etc., a highly difficult job,” said Paine.


The power scenario in the country is also changing. “Customers today have become wiser and more demanding. They not only want power but they want quality power available all the time without voltage and frequency fluctuations,” said Paine. As a result, most urban areas are now witnessing a shift to new technologies like underground substations and transmission lines – a movement from conventional overhead cables to underground – with no interference of inclement weather like thunder, lightning or disruption with falling trees, etc. “This also opens up opportunities for digitisation of many manual processes,” adds Paine.


While Sterling and Wilson works mainly with Central and State utilities, in recent years the company has also executed projects for private players like Adani Transmission Ltd and Sterlite Power Transmission Ltd, and has a global presence having executed projects in countries like Kenya, Togo, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Western and East Africa and Egypt. The company is also engaged in establishing Metro Rail Electrical and Automation Systems, apart from pursuing new projects under smart cities. With the sector attracting a huge amount of investments, Sterling and Wilson is optimistic about grabbing a larger slice of this business pie in the near future.


Transmission & Distribution (India)