By Amol Kalsekar
The wires and cables industry in India has come a long way, growing from being a small industry to a very large one, over the past decade. Although the industry comes with a lot of technical and quality nuances, it is mostly volume driven. Over the last 20 years, the industry has shifted from being an unorganised sector to an organised one, Still 35% of the industry continues to be a part of the unorganised sector.
The increasing demand for power, light and communication has kept demand high for wire and cable. The wires and cables market in India comprises nearly 40% of the electrical industry. According to industry experts, it is expected to double in size in the next five years. The market is growing at a CAGR of 15% as a result of growth in the power and infrastructure segments. The present estimated per capita consumption is only about 0.5 kg. As the new government is focusing on ‘Make in India,” the industry can grow at a similar rate for the next 5 years.
Talking about the power sector, copper holds high significance in terms of usage and consumption in this sector. The world average per capita copper consumption is around 2.7 kg. Electrical sector is the largest user of copper in India. Since copper and its alloy components play a vital role in electricity generation, distribution and utilisation, 12-15% per annum demand growth in this sector is possible, if good quality is assured.
Quality of Copper plays a very important role in wire i.e. use of Electrolytic Tough Pitch (ETP) grade Copper wherein the purity of Copper in percentage terms should be min 99.90 % as per national standards, All electrical consultants, A-grade electrical contractors, while specifying makes should ensure quality credential from independent laboratories or poor quality of Copper used in wire may result in safety hazards as well as energy loss.
As important as it is to use good quality copper, there are various disadvantages and serious consequences of using untested copper for wiring as per the table. Relative specification values measured of wires using Electrolytic Tough Pitch Copper vis-à-vis Scrap Refined (Commercial) Copper (for 1sq mm wire) The test results (on the next page) amply prove that wires with commercial copper are not only inferior in physical properties but are also alarmingly low on electrical parameters such as conductivity. It is proved further that high level of impurities has resulted in a steep increase in resistance by as much as 88%. This obviously explains almost twice the temperature rise as compared to ETP copper since higher resistance causes higher loss resulting in heat. ICA India therefore strongly recommends that all concerned such as, consultants, contractors, electricians etc. should consider use of ISI certified copper wires only.