SaurEnergy Explains- Reconductoring, A Solution For a Renewable Powered Grid?

Highlights :

  • In this issue of SaurEnergy explains, we consider, Reconductoring
SaurEnergy Explains- Reconductoring, A Solution For a Renewable Powered Grid? Transmission Gets Stronger Push with Approval of Green Power Transmission Line in Bundelkhand

The power sector, by most estimates, accounts for close to 40% of carbon emissions worldwide. That has made it the focal point of efforts to reduce emissions, seen mainly in the shift towards renewable energy, and linked to that, the electrification of more and more parts of the economy, as seen in the transportation sector.

As the world, and India strives to take the share of clean energy in the grid higher, it faces two significant challenges. One is of course the higher than normal growth in demand linked to faster electrification of new segments. In the future too, areas like Heating (In the developed world) and cooling ( in the Tropics, developing world) are expected to add significantly to electricity demand. The second problem is equally pressing, As renewable energy is injected into grids in ever higher amounts, the dominance of solar and wind has meant the intermittency characterised by these two options also risks placing at risk the stability of grids. Thus, the big question of doubling grid capacity, as in the US, or significantly enhancing its flexibility to handle renewable power and more capacity (everywhere else) has brought in it’s own estimates of costs involved. Ranging from $500 billion to $3.5 trillion by 2040, depending on who you read. The issue has become even more critical in the US and many other markets thanks to the huge backlog of projects, mostly green energy, that await connection to the grid. Laying fresh lines brings its own complications in perms of permissions, clearances and land acquisition, in almost every part of the world.

The ‘Popular’ Option

Enter Reconductoring. Quite simply, reconductoring is the process by which transmission lines can be restringed with more advanced wires, increasing carrying capacity without . A recently published working paper from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Gridlab, an energy consulting firm claims that it has the potential to double the amount of electricity the US transmission system can handle, for less than half the price of building new lines. Ensuring a spike in interest as well as placing the spotlight on other claimants to ensuring stable grids, preferably at lower costs.

India’s own Central Electricity Authority (CEA), in a draft paper on reconductoring, points out that “Reconductoring with advanced type of conductors and operating them to the extent of its capacity limit may face terminal constraints (e.g. such as breakers, switches, protection, flexible AC transmission system (FACTS) controller and other devices). Further, the existing current rating capacity
(kA) of sub-station bus may get exceeded. Requirement of replacement of bay equipment at terminal ends commensurate with rating of new conductor will arise and as such, planning for upgradation of bay equipment need to be carried out along with reconductoring.”

In a bid to speed up the process, the draft adds that “As reconductoring requires upgradation and replacement of existing conductors of transmission lines with new higher rating capacity conductors using the same RoW, the works related to reconductoring are generally considered as technical upgradation. Accordingly, exemption is given from competitive bidding and implemented under RTM by the owner of original transmission line. ” Even issues of ownership, and responsibility have been sought to be addressed by pushing for allocation of work through Regulated Tariff Mechanism (RTM) to the original owner of the asset.

The GETs Alternative

One method that claims an advantage over reconductoring is GETS, or Grid Enhancing Technologies. A study backed by the RMI (Rocky Mountain Institute ) and Amazon looked at three types of GETs — dynamic line rating systems, topology optimization and advanced power-flow controllers — to replace the need for traditional grid upgrades. Thus Dynamic line ratings (DLRs) provide real-time information on the capacity of individual grid circuits, to allow grid operators to shift or curtail power output to make use of that real-time capacity, rather than relying on ‘fixed’ capacity ratings.

Topology optimization (TO) software allows grid operators to use existing grid-control technologies to route power across transmission networks while  avoiding congested areas and better utilise underused parts of those networks.

Advanced power flow controls (PFCs) — are devices that can alter the characteristics of how power flows along transmission lines to increase or decrease their capacity relative to other parts of the network, adding more flexibility to grid operations.


As data, and more detailed studies make their point on the benefits of alternate methods, you can be sure to hear a lot more about reconductoring in the future. After all, the whole energy transition might end up depending on it.


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