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Promoting Indigenous Power Electronics Technology

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The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), which is under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), transferred indigenous power electronics technology, which is currently being used by national railways, to domestic firms. This transfer is aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on imports and promoting self-sufficiency.

Static Synchronous Compensator (STATCOM) technology for power quality solutions and electronics solutions for railways was transferred. This includes the Vehicle Control Unit, Rolling Stack software, Loco Simulation Controller, and Off-Loco VCU test kit. According to a press release, demand for these five applications is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.

MeitY Secretary, Alkesh Kumar Sharma, highlighted how the STATCOM technology can be beneficial in integrating different renewable sources of energy into the grid without compromising the power factor, especially in unbalanced grid conditions. Furthermore, he noted that the VCU and its associated technologies provided to the Indian Railways will benefit passengers, freight, and trains such as Shatabdi and Tejas by increasing the adoption of indigenous technologies.

STATCOM is a technology based on PQ standards IEEE519 and IEEE1459. It was developed by C-DAC. Such technology has become increasingly important in recent years due to the rising demand for renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, which are intermittent and variable in nature. The integration of these sources into the power grid can cause voltage fluctuations and instability, which can be mitigated by using STATCOMs. C-DAC has transferred this technology of STATCOMs to a private player to promote its adoption and usage.

Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) technology is based on the Standard IEC-61375, which was developed based on the TCN protocols available during the early 2010s. However, since then, various enhancements have been made to the TCN protocol, and it has become necessary to upgrade the VCU to be in line with contemporary technology. The existing C-DAC-VCU technology has been transferred to an industry partner. The transfer includes hardware and software upgrades, and C-DAC will provide support and maintenance for the next five years until in-house capacity is developed at the private company to manage the technology’s day-to-day and long-term maintenance requirements for the locomotive fleet.

The Loco Simulation Controller is based on the Railways standard. The VCU and its application software need to be tested in locomotives to better debug and understand the response of the outputs given from the VCU to various sub-systems of locomotives. The Loco Simulation Controller serves as a test platform that simulates the actual functionalities of the locomotive and provides inputs to the VCU as per the actual locomotive logic. It also takes inputs from the VCU and processes them to generate outputs as of actual locomotive to VCU.
The Rolling Stack Software is designed to meet the specific needs of the Indian Railways. The software controls the locomotive functions and is distributed among four processor boards in the VCU set. To improve the reliability of the locomotive operation in case of processor board failures, important functions are redundantly implemented. This also helps the loco pilot to steer the train without having to move from the driving cab to the rear cab to address the failure.

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