The recent price bids for utility scale solar PV (Rs 3.3/kWh) and wind power (Rs 3.46/kWh) show that generation price of renewable energy should no longer be a concern while aiming at high shares of renewable energy in the future electricity mix. However this does not automatically mean that renewables will rule in the days to come. The renewable energy sector will increasingly have to confront the mainstream sectoral challenges. An opinion piece describing some of these challenges and potential ways to start addressing them was published in DNA on 11th March 2017.
The year 1991 was an inflection point in the history of modern India. The country embarked upon wide-ranging economic reforms in what came to be known as the Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation or LPG era. The electricity sector — indeed, the entire energy sector — has seen multiple waves of reforms since then. It has been a quarter century since the beginning of the reforms and there are indications that a fresh wave of reforms are in the offing in the electricity sector. Over this period, Prayas (Energy Group) has keenly followed and participated in the reforms process as a proactive, independent organisation offering constructive critique and suggestions to further public interest.
Prayas (Energy Group) has authored a book born out of this unique engagement and understanding of the sector. The book critically examines many of these reforms and the impacts they have had, to understand if they achieved their expected objectives and if they helped in achieving the desirable socio-environmental outcomes. The in-depth analysis over eight chapters covers thermal, hydropower and renewable generation, electricity distribution, and associated fuel sectors of coal and natural gas. We hope that the book contributes to improve the design and implementation of further reforms, so that the sector overcomes its challenges in an equitable and sustainable manner.
The book is dedicated to Girish Sant, founder coordinator of Prayas (Energy Group), who continues to inspire our work.
India has set itself an ambitious renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022. In spite of the several benefits of renewable energy, such a high target has profound implications for the Indian power sector, especially in the medium term. Hence it is very important for the electricity sector actors to objectively look at the growth of renewables. A lot of data is already available to understand the renewable energy sector, but more granular and comprehensive up-to-date data, publicly accessible in a user friendly manner, can aid better understanding of the renewable energy evolution in the country.
This Renewable Energy Data Portal is Prayas (Energy Group)'s effort to collate important data which is already available in the public domain and organise it in a manner which makes it more amenable for easier public access. Another feature of this effort is the interactive nature of the data portal which allows users to personalize their interaction and compare data across their chosen years/states/segments etc.
India’s ambitious renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022 has firmly placed renewables as a mainstream electricity supply option. This has attracted a great deal of attention from diverse stakeholders in India as well as the international community. While the social and environmental benefits of renewables are well known, they also have other benefits, in terms of enhancing energy security, price certainty and low gestation periods. However, in spite of these benefits, the 175 GW target has profound implications and can throw up myriad challenges for the Indian power sector, especially in the medium term. Some of these are potential higher direct procurement costs for DISCOMs, greater complexity in grid operations, higher capital requirements etc.
Given these benefits and challenges, it is vital for the electricity sector actors to critically look at the growth of renewables. This report is an endeavour in this direction. It attempts to understand the growth of renewables in the past few years and looks at the country’s progress towards reaching the goal of 175 GW by 2022. This is captured through various graphs and tables, relying less on a narrative.
Worldwide, buildings use about 40% of energy and they emit approximately 1/3rd of GHG emissions. In India, residential and commercial buildings account for 31% of the electricity consumption2 and is increasing at a rate of 10-12% a year. Prayas Energy Group (PEG), Pune and Greentech Knowledge Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (GKSPL), New Delhi are collaboratively working on identifying the opportunities and avenues to overcome the challenges in realizing the potential of onsite renewable energy generation and use in buildings. In this regard, PEG and GKSPL organized a half-day stakeholder discussion on October 20, 2016 to share the initial findings of this study and to get inputs on understanding key challenges, opportunities and action points in further increasing the effective use of RE in buildings.
The 175 GW renewable generation capacity target for 2022 has fundamental implications for electricity grid planning and operations. Renewable energy generation, especially from wind and solar power, is variable in nature, given its dependency on the weather. Maintaining continuous balance in demand and supply and constant frequency is important for the reliable and secure operation of the grid. Deviation in frequency can occur due to instantaneous differences between generation and demand, which grid operators apprehend would worsen due to higher penetration of renewables. This coupled with some pre-existing problems of the relatively weak Indian grid makes reliable and effective grid integration of renewables even more challenging. Hence, policy-regulatory officials and grid operators are very concerned that such a steep and rapid increase in ‘infirm’ or ‘non-dispatchable’ renewables will affect the electricity grid and make grid operation far more complex and difficult to deal with.
This report is an attempt to understand the concerns of grid operators when it comes to integrating high levels of variable renewables. The focus is on forecasting and scheduling of renewable power, one of the key starting points to minimise grid imbalance and aid effective integration. It also examines the various supporting initiatives adopted by ERCs and policy makers towards easing grid integration. We conclude by outlining potential suggestions and ideas for easing the challenges of grid integration.
The electricity sector is undergoing a transformation as it transitions from a static sector that is planned and operated by central authorities—regulators, utilities, system operators, and planners—to one that is increasingly driven by a mix of technologies, decentralized operators, and new market mechanisms and reforms.
These changes are creating an environment of genuine uncertainty in which many challenges arise, along with new opportunities for electricity sector planners and regulators to meet the goal of reliable, sustainable and universal electricity access. This report looks at experiences from four developing countries - Brazil, China, India, and Kyrgyzstan, and two developed countries - Germany and the United States to help electricity planners and utilities gain from the international experience. The way in which the sector stakeholders respond and engage with these emerging trends globally will ultimately determine the development pathway of the future grid.
Pune has been selected under the GoI’s Smart Cities Mission and one of the important areas of focus under this initiative is to substantially increase the use of solar power, especially Rooftop Solar PV (RTPV) within the city. To further accelerate the pace of solar deployment in the City, newly formed PSCDCL (P U N E Smart City Development Corporation Ltd.) launched the ‘Pune-Maximum Solar City’ initiative on 10th May 2016, as a first step towards facilitating Solar in Pune. PSCDCL in collaboration with city based national think tanks; PEG (Prayas Energy Group) and PIC (Pune International Centre) organised a citizens and media awareness programme. The event was attended by over 100 citizens and 30 rooftop solar developers from Pune.
The Government of India has announced an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity addition by 2022. Solar power (100 GW) forms the mainstay of this target. This is further divided into large scale centralized power plants (50 GW) and distributed smaller scale projects (40 GW of rooftop mainly used by industrial, commercial and residential consumers and 10 GW grid-connected tail-end plants). This article suggests an approach of deploying tail end solar PV power plants (1-2 MWs in size) dedicated for agriculture in areas where feeder separation has taken place. These plants would be grid tied and would supply day time power for agricultural loads. Any excess generation from solar would flow back to the grid. If the agriculture load is high the differential would be provided by the grid. Such an approach would be significantly more cost effective as compared to individual solar pumps and is more likely to be successful with respect to integrating energy efficiency into agriculture power usage. These plants could be set up as standard PPA based projects, and hence would alleviate need for upfront subsidy and would also qualify for meeting DISCOMs' solar purchase obligation.
Considering the possibility of a high-profile joint statement on energy and climate policy between India and the US during President Obama's visit in January 2015, Navroz Dubash of CPR and Ashwin Gambhir of Prayas (Energy Group) wrote an opinion piece in the Indian Express on 23rd January, 2015. It looks at the merits and demerits of any such statement from an Indian perspective and explores the various formulations on electricity generating capacity and generation for the year 2032. It also points out the supporting actions needed to realize such targets.