India's plan to produce CRGO steel indigenously to meet demand from the power sector is set to take off soon on a public-private partnership with Tata Steel.
Col Rolled Grain Oriented (CRGO) steel is a critical input for te manufacturing of transformers which is key for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to end-users.
Only five global steel makers have the technology to produce such steel, which India imports around USD 2 billion annually.
"The plan to produce CRGO has been with steel ministry for quite some time. National Metallurgical Laboratory(NML) and Tata Steel's proposal for development of CRGO steel in the country through a pilot plant setup at a cost of Rs 500 crore
is set to take off soon," sources told PTI.
NML and Tata Steel would set up a pilot plant having a capacity of 3-5 tonnes in Jamshedpur. The two will give Rs 170 crore each to the project and the balance is likely to be funded by the Steel Ministry for procuring plant equipment.
NML is the third in the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) family of 38 laboratories.
The Working Group on Steel Industry for 12th Five-Year Plan in its report had recommended inclusion of development of CRGO steel as a high value project of national importance.
It had also suggested a budgetary allocation of Rs 150 crore for research on CRGO development during the 12th Plan Period.
There are a couple of public sector companies, including JSW Steel, that have already announced plans to produce CRGO through joint venture mode, but production from them will take some time to start. Public sector units - SAIL and RINL – have also evinced interest to venture into the area.
However, Steel Ministry's Empowered Committee (EC) for Research and Development, headed by the Secretary, said the joint ventures undertaken by Indian steel firms cannot ensure total technology transfer. Even if they do, it will cover only
"Steel firms having the technology to develop CRGO are very reluctant to transfer that to India. EC, therefore, felt that development of the technology through indigenous sources through a pilot plant was a necessity," sources said.
According to Central Electricity Authority, transformer industry of the country has grown to a manufacturing capacity of 800-1000 GVA and during the 12th Plan period, an additional 94,000 MW generation capacity is targetted to be added.
Given these daunting requirements, the need for higher-capacity transformers is imminent.