New Delhi: The power ministry wants power utilities and equipment makers to spend more on research and development. The ministry is concerned about the findings of a recent review that shows that only Rs150 crore of a Rs500 crore research and development (R&D) fund it had set up has been used.
“This partial use hampers growth in the sector,” said an official in the power ministry. “The ministry has strongly recommended that power-sector organizations increase their allocation for R&D. This is necessary to meet the ambitious target of adding 68,700 megawatts (MW) in the next Plan period (2007-12),” he added.
Apart from tapping the fund—it will fund part of the R&D budgets of both public-sector and private-sector companies—companies have been asked to up their own spending. Companies such as NTPC Ltd, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), Power Grid Corporation of India on the power generation and transmission side, and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel), ABB, Siemens on the equipment side, have been asked to substantially enhance their R&D spends.
In 2005-06, Bhel spent 1.04% of its sales revenue on R&D; the corresponding proportion for Alstom was 2.72% and for Mitsubishi Electric, 3.62%.
“Power-generation companies should utilize at least 1% of their profits for R&D activities. In the case of manufacturing organizations, it should be 3% to 4% of their profit,” the official said.
Although the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) was created to work as an apex R&D agency in the sector, it has not had much success. Now the ministry wants the companies to step in; it is also considering setting up separate R&D units for the generation, transmission and distribution businesses.