Power Sector is one of the most critical components of infrastructure and crucial for welfare of the people. The Government of India’s focus on attaining ‘Power for all’ has accelerated capacity addition in the country. The ‘Clean Energy’ initiatives in the country has been increasing with the increased awareness of global warming and climate change. It is not only necessary to ensure that the state-of-the-art technology is utilized but also the appropriate technology is continuously developed keeping in view the social operating conditions in the country.

Research and Development is one of the most important drivers of economic growth and stability, steering social prosperity. Broadly, the research activities in our country can be classified into two major categories: a) Basic Research carried out in Academia b) Applied Research carried out in the Industry. Basic research aims to investigate and improve upon existing scientific theories and is mostly confined to Academic Institutions. While on the other hand applied research, where established scientific theories are used to develop technology or techniques to overcome a day-to-day problems, is mostly perused in the Industry. The cost of research being prohibitively high it is necessary that the state-of-the art technology evolved world-wide is harnessed and a steady information flow from Academia to Industry is manifested. The current paradigms in R&D have laid strong emphasis on this multi-disciplinary and interactive knowledge creation. A right blend of academic and industrial knowhow will result in a favourable environment to achieve identified research goals in the most efficient cost effective manner. New technology and techniques developed out of applied research may result in cost reduction and increasing efficiency can act as catalysts for a set of new goods and services that could improve the economy and increase employment.

The Government of India is promoting Research and Development for the Indian power sector through Central Power Research Institute (CPRI). CPRI plays a very crucial role in channelizing the Academic Knowhow to Industrial usage by taking up research topics of current interest related to technology development, evaluation studies and process improvement, in a collaborative nature involving Utility, Industry, Academia and Research Organizations. The Ministry of Power provides funding support to Academic Institutes, R&D Organizations, Utilities and Manufacturers for taking up R&D projects of National Interest through the following two schemes co-ordinated by CPRI:

  1. R&D under National Perspective Plan (NPP)

The R&D under NPP is for the benefit of Indian manufacturers, power utilities and academia as this scheme provides a platform for Industry and Academia to interact and take up research projects in a collaborative mode. It is mandatory that manufacturers and power utilities have to bear 50% of the total approved project outlay.

R&D under NPP has the following objectives:

  • To promote innovation by sharing the expertise and experience
  • To forge industry-institute cooperation
  • To strengthen the National Innovation Capability
  • To strengthen R&D infrastructure
  • To develop and sustain manpower for R&D in the power sector

The projects proposed under this scheme are focused on development of New Product / Process development leading to field implementation and help to bridge the technology gaps in various subsections of power sector (Generation, Transmission & Distribution). The Research Areas and topics are identified and prioritized in the National Perspective Plan. The R&D work not only combines the Academic Intellect with Industrial Experience but also takes advantage of the advances in IT, electronics and communication to improve the existing technologies. These projects aim at design and development of indigenous technologies with the objective of cost reduction, import substitution and employment generation.

  • Research Scheme on Power (RSoP)

The Research Scheme on Power (RSoP) was initiated by the Ministry of Power (MoP) in 1961 to support research & development projects in all relevant areas of power sector by central and state utilities, quasi-government organizations, academic and research institutions and other related organizations in the country. The scheme has been funded by MoP from its planned grants. Under this scheme 100% funding is provided by MoP for academic and government promoted research institutes. Research projects which are pertinent to the power sector are taken up by the Utilities and funded under the RSOP scheme to enable them to address mainly local specific operational issues. In certain cases where theoretical studies are involved, the Utilities collaborate with R&D and academic institutions and take up projects. The Academic institutes also propose small scale projects under the RSoP scheme for proof of concept or small scale product development.

The Technical Committees of CPRI consisting of dignitaries and Domain Experts from Academia and Industry continuously monitor the progress of the projects and steer the projects to successful completion, suggesting necessary course correction if required.

  • In-House Research and Development (IHRD)

Apart for the above schemes the Government of India encourages research on some of the niche areas for the Indian Power Sector like augmentation of research and testing facilities, evolution of new techniques in testing, diagnostic methods, research studies, product/process improvements, improvements in product standardization etc. under the In-House Research and Development Scheme (IHRD). This scheme is exclusively for CPRI Scientists and Engineers. By coming up with innovative solutions along with proper documentation of findings and knowledge dissemination, CPRI has created valuable institutional knowledge that is readily available to Academia and Industry for ready reference.

CPRI is also responsible in selection of projects, obtaining and release of funds from the Government and monitoring of the projects under Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) and Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) scheme of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).  Under the IMPRINT programme ten important domains that impact the living standards of people at large have been identified and premier Institutions like IISc and IIT’s are requested by MHRD and Department of Science and Technology (DST) to gear up for inter disciplinary research in these domains.  The Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana has been approved as an initiative to promote innovation with the aim to meet the needs of the industry and thereby, improve the competitive edge of Indian Manufacturing. Under this scheme the IITs have partnered with Industry for research projects that would result in innovative solutions for their problems.

Over the years both the schemes have been successful in developing technologies like fault current limiters based on high temperature superconductivity, Dynamic Voltage Regulator for Industry, STATCOM for IT Parks and carry out research on development of technologies like fuel cells, electric double layer super capacitors, solid state transformers. In its pursuit of excellence, CPRI is continuously making efforts through the existing research schemes to create a conducive ecosystem to bridge the gap of Academic and Industrial Research in Power Sector to cope up with the fast pace of innovation in today’s world.

Author Profile

This article was contributed by Shri A. Chakraborty and Shri R.A. Deshpande of R&D Management Division of Central Power Research Institute.

Institute Profile

Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) was established by the Government of India in 1960 with headquarters in Bangalore. The Institute was re-organized into an autonomous Society in the year 1978 under the aegis of the Ministry of Power, Government of India. The main objective of setting up the Institute is to serve as a national Level laboratory for undertaking applied research in electrical power engineering besides functioning as an independent national testing and certification authority for electrical equipment and components to ensure reliability in power systems and to innovate and develop new products.