What is the electrical power sector?A Brief idea about Career in Electrical Power sector

What is the electrical power sector?A Brief idea about Career in Electrical Power sector

Electricity’ is a fundamental form of energy that results from the interaction of charged particles. The term ‘Electricity’ was first coined by English Physician, Physicist and natural philosopher, William Gilbert (1544-1603) to describe phenomena arising from the flow of an electric charge. Gilbert drew the English term from the Greek word Electron and the Latin word Electricus, meaning amber, as in ancient times, people had produced electrical phenomenon by rubbing a piece of amber. Pioneering work on electricity was done in seventeenth and eighteenth century. By 1821, Michael Faraday had designed the electric motor and in 1827 Georg Simon Ohm analyzed the properties of electrical circuit. Other pioneering works by Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Lord Kelvin led to the utilization of electrical power for the common people to run domestic appliances and industrial machineries. Without the demand of electrical products, and the convenience of life supported by electricity, the second industrial revolution (1860-1914) would never have occurred and life as we live now would have been very different.

Today electricity is needed everywhere and in everything to run our lives. The list of products that run on electricity is endless and more new innovations and products are being produced everyday which are powered by electricity. Electricity is produced by method of conversion using various renewable and non-renewable energy sources. The conversion of energy sources takes place in a power plants some of which are thermal power plant, hydro power plant, nuclear power plant, gas turbine power plant, diesel power plant etc forms the conventional power plants, whereas solar power, wind turbine, Bio-mass gasifier, fuel cell, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), Magneto-hydro dynamic generator etc forms the non-conventional power plants. With so many different types of conversion methods available along with different types of power plants to produce electricity, electrical power sector is one of the most key industries of any developing and developed Nation. 

Basically, what is the electrical power sector? Electrical engineers will be able to give the answer as soon as they read the word ‘electrical power’. From a general perspective, an electrical power system is usually understood as a very large network that links power plants (large or small) to loads, by means of an electric grid that may span a country or a whole continent. According to Wikipedia, an electric power system is a network of electrical components deployed to supply, transfer, and use electric power. The power system network consists of generation, distribution and transmission system. It uses the form of energy (like coal and diesel) and converts it into electrical energy. The power system includes the devices connected to the system like the synchronous generator, motor, transformer, circuit breaker, conductor, etc. Smaller power systems are found in industry, hospitals, commercial buildings and homes. The majority of these systems rely upon three-phase AC power—the standard for large-scale power transmission and distribution across the modern world.

The power plant, transformer, transmission line, substations, distribution line, and distribution transformer are the six main components of the power system. The power plant generates the power which is step-up or step-down through the transformer for transmission. The transmission line transfers the power to the various substations. Through substation, the power is transferred to the distribution transformer which step-down the power to the appropriate value which is suitable for the consumers.

The electric power sector in India is really huge. According to the Ministry of Power, Govt. of India, the total installed capacity (as on 31.05.2019) in India are as follows- State Sector (86,597 MW), Central Sector (105,077 MW) and Private Sector (165,144 MW), which totals to 3,56,818 MW. This amount of electricity is produced mostly by thermal power plants (2,26,279 MW or 63.4%), Hydro plants (45,399 MW or 12.7%), Nuclear power plants (6780 MW or 1.9%), while the renewable energy sources (include Small Hydro Project, Biomass Gasifier, Biomass Power, Urban & Industrial Waste Power, Solar and Wind Energy) produces 78,359 MW or 22%. (Source: https://powermin.nic.in/en/content/power-sector-glance-all-india).

India’s power and energy sector is not only one of the world’s most diversified branches but also provides livelihood to over 20 lakh job seekers every year. With the change in India’s energy and power sector and the need and insistence on country’s economic growth, this sector emerged as one of the fastest growing and personal development sector for its employees. In India, The electricity generation target of conventional sources for the year 2019-20 has been fixed as 1330 Billion Unit (BU). i.e. growth of around 6.46% over actual conventional generation of 1249.337 BU for the previous year (2018-19). The conventional generation during 2018-19 was 1249.337 BU as compared to 1206.306 BU generated during 2017-18, representing a growth of about 3.57%. (Source: https://powermin.nic.in/en/content/power-sector-glance-all-india). The energy requirement in 2018-19 was 12,74,595 MW, however, only 12,67,526 MW was available, while upto May 2019, the power requirement was 229,413 MW, however, 228,441 MW was made available. The electric power generation has rose from 1206.306 Billion units in 2017-18 to 1249.377 Billion Units in 2018-19. 

With reference to our own state, Assam has a total installed power generation capacity of 1,599.65 MW, of which 364.7 MW is produced by APGCL. 2318 villages covering 27.5 Lakh rural households have been electrified, as on July 2017. It has a capacity to produce 680 MW of hydro power and has the highest potential for solar energy amongst all the north-eastern states with an estimated potential of 14GW solar energy. In addition, Assam has Power projects under construction in the state of 930.5 MW and projects in pipeline of 1901.5 MW (Source: https://advantageassam.com/power).  With such huge growth in the power generation, there is ample scope for growth in employment specially for Electrical Engineers and Technicians in the power sector.

A power plant demands different types of people with different sets of technical and managerial skills for the job. By 2022, the Government of India has set a target to meet the target of power consumption of 1894.7 TWh and have released its roadmap to achieve 175 GW capacity in renewable energy by 2022, which includes 100 GW of solar power and 60 GW of wind power. Coal-based power generation capacity in India, which currently stands at 191.09 GW is expected to reach 330-441 GW by 2040 (Source: https://www.ibef.org/industry/power-sector-india.aspx). With these huge projections, there is going to be direct demand for Technicians, Diploma holders, Engineering graduates, Management graduates for proper running and maintenance of the power plant, the transmission and distribution of power to the household and industries. With the new power projects undertaken by the central and state governments in addition to the existing projects and active participations of some renowned multinational companies, huge opportunities is lying ahead for fresh engineering graduates and experienced technical person directly or indirectly within just a few years.

It is hoped that with the implementation of new projects and schemes launched by the Government alone and in partnership with some private players, the power scenario in India is going towards new heights alongside with huge job creation.


Dr. Sandip Bordoloi

Associate Professor, GIMT Guwahati