Engineering Plastics in Electrical Industry

Varun Gupta, Director, Calco Poly Technik explains why engineered plastics are gaining acceptance in electrical industry

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Engineering Plastics in Electrical Industry

Engineering Plastics (EP) globally is a $67 billion industry, growing at 14 per cent growth rate, and is expected to touch $130 billion in 2025. With a wide range of applications in various industries, EP businesses are gradually witnessing a streaking growth in the market. Due to their excellent performance in high heat stability, chemical resistance, mechanical strength, EPs have gained acceptance in the market and is emerging as a promising business venture for young entrepreneurs.

EP industry is a vast industry in its own, due to its diverse applications. It is because of its diverse applications that the industry provides solutions to many end-user industries as well. This gives the EP industry another way to expand them in the market.

Keeping the environmental aspect of EP products into consideration, these products work in tune with environmental conservation as well. They demand not just light but smart solutions with optimal transmission and reflectance for different application areas. These days there are different types of lighting available to pep up your home.

EP has been recently introduced to Indian market and has now been developed intensively because of the great potential benefits and have better mechanical and thermal properties. This plastic component is stronger and lighter than the regular plastic. Besides equalling or surpassing them in weight/ strength and other properties, Eps are much easier to manufacture, especially in complicated shapes. It is light in weight and can reduce the weight of appliances by almost 50 per cent. The plastic industry is increasingly looking at such cost effective alternative and innovative measures. This will result in an organisation profit but also gives a huge contribution to the renewable energy market.

The plastic industry is growing at an exponential rate and it is becoming the material for choice because of its distinctive properties. The competition in this Industry is gaining the race. The penetration level of plastic products is low in the Indian markets, due to which the per capita consumption in India is low. This low consumption scale, signifies the fact that there is a scope for an industry boost. Technological improvements and cost competitiveness in the electronics are resulting in great demand abroad, which has been growing at an estimated rate of 16 per cent in the last five years.

The flourishing customer base and the increasing penetration of electronic products in consumer durables segment have also provided enough scope for the growth of plastics in the Indian electrical industry.

However, introduction to EP has proved to be a good contributor to the economic development in the electrical industry. Moreover, EPs are chiefly a group of plastic materials that have better mechanical and thermal properties than widely used plastics. In addition, electricity too covers every aspect of our lives whether it is at home, work place, or while driving to name a few. Thus, plastics revolve around us every second and minute! Consequently, EPs have become a vital factor to run electrical industry.

Engineered products also demonstrate aesthetic appeal with respect to colour, gloss and ability to form any shape. This is a by-product of performance that plastic offers which acts as a protection shield during any fire. It gives strength with reinforcement materials for durability in heat sensitive applications like lighting materials, giving an excellent thermal conductivity.

It has been witnessed that electrical energy demand in India is around 1,500 million tonnes, which is equivalent of oil by 2030 putting economic pressure on import bills. One way to solve this problem is by reducing dependency on energy requirement by making energy efficient equipment. This is possible by minimising loss of energy transmission and increasing conductivity, both thermal (heat) and electrical. Plastics being poor conductor of thermal and electricity and are found less in electrical equipment due to their unwanted behaviour. But with innovations in plastics, there are significant improvements in energyefficient use of LED with low energy consumption. Similarly, modern panel displays and solar cells are devised by use of high conductive plastic. These components are integral part in efficient electronic circuit for better ratings of electrical equipment. EP thus plays a very pivotal role in defining a sustainable roadmap for efficient equipment.

Wide range of environment friendly flame-retardant polymers are used to replace the conventional heavy metal materials, offering low smoke to prevent from choking in case of fire. Affordable LED product range are also made for down lighters, bulbs and tubes which assist to replace existing incandescent light bulbs/CFL. This innovation in Engineered Plastics can be utilised to make entire housing assembly out of plastic, replacing metal giving benefits of higher productivity and lower total cost of production.

As we all know that the plastic industry is stamped by negative remarks, on the contrary it still has the support of the government. To exemplify: Initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana are proving to be an asset to the plastic industry.

Such schemes are bringing strong interest in manufacturing of electrical sectors, thus providing corridors to foreign investments in electricity at each and every house. In a nutshell, in next 2-3 years, the EPs will see a lot of new ideas and innovations!

Future Scope

The World Bank in its report titled ‘Utility scale DSM opportunities and business models in India’ has pegged India’s energy efficiency market at Rs 1.6 lakh crore by considering the end use of energy efficiency opportunities, which is four times the Rs 44,000 crore in 2010. The UJALA Scheme to distribute LED Bulbs (Bachhat Lamp Yojana) also contributes to the success. Till now, over 28 crore LEDs have been sold across the country, which has resulted in energy savings to the tune of 36,545 MUs and avoided peak demand of 7,317 MW. In monetary terms, savings of around Rs. 14,618 crore have been achieved. This will
also provide a very good market for companies manufacturing energy efficient lighting and appliances as well as companies providing DSM solutions.

The government is pushing for safety and successful implementation of EE norms. In 2017, the government found innovative solutions to address the electricity access challenges. They have set parameters for builders, designers and architects to integrate renewable energy sources and energy efficient appliances in the building design. The government has recommended that all new buildings and offices in the future be Super ECBC (Energy Conservation Building Code) and Net Zero Energy Buildings. A stable government framework with initiatives like ‘Make in India’, Smart Cities, have increased the purchasing power, large domestic market, and an ever-increasing development in infrastructure will made India a favourable destination for investment, creating path for investments and subsequent demand for boost in electrical products.

The year 2022 has been earmarked for achieving ‘24×7 Power for All’. To achieve this target, it means to electrify more than 7 lakhs households every month. The government is planning to provide electricity to every household, apparently which will boost the electrical product market too. Even as villages are getting new power infrastructure, there are issues of last-mile connectivity and supply, making the ‘Power for All’ goal a challenge.

The flagship program of the Power Ministry is to facilitate 24X7 Power Supply in Villages was launched in 2015 in Patna. It focuses on feeder separation (rural households and agricultural) and strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution infrastructure. This initiative under the government has achieved a new milestone of more than 13,123 villages of 18,441 electrified in 2017.

Currently, it has helped in bringing ‘Electricity to All’ of India’s 597,464 census villages in April, 2018 and setting up the stage for universal household electrification.

As the government races to meet the 2022 target, it must also focus on designing robust and innovative tools to measure and monitor the progress on a multi-dimensional level, rather than just counting the number of connections. Here the private sector is helping the government to achieve their target of ‘Power for All’. Reducing the demand for electricity and making energy-efficient equipment, can also help in dispersal of electricity to the areas, where the light at night is still a dream. This is possible by minimising loss of
energy transmission and increasing conductivity, both thermal (heat) and electrical. Here EPs act as a game changer and results in improvement in terms of efficient use of energy.

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