India Together: Is RE becoming too much of a good thing?

India Collectively: Is RE changing into an excessive amount of of factor?

GS paper 4

Because the share of renewable vitality rises, it brings with it new challenges. In contrast to up to now, going ahead, the administration of surplus energy will probably be essential. A brand new report from the Brookings Institute suggests some steps.

09 August 2018

India has confronted a shortage of electrical energy for many years, however may within the coming years be confronted with the issue of a lot sooner or later. With the addition of many tasks in recent times, the nation’s gross electrical energy capability is now larger than the demand, and shortfalls have considerably dropped. Official knowledge point out that continual energy shortfall fell to as little as 0.7 per cent in 2016-17, and this yr, there may nicely be a surplus. 

That is the results of simultaneous development in renewable vitality (RE), in addition to persevering with development in energy output from typical sources. RE is rising dramatically; India had the second-highest photo voltaic capability addition on the earth in 2017. The central authorities has set a goal of 175 gigawatt (GW) by 2022, which requires an annual development of nicely over 25 per cent. Additional, coal-based capability for the interval FY 2011-17 has additionally risen over 12 per cent yearly, which is twice the speed of development in demand for energy.

A brand new RE-ality in energy administration

Is not this factor? Sure, and no, because it seems. Whereas sufficient energy provide is definitely a worthy aim, the rising contribution from RE additionally presents the grid with a problem. The query, “How a lot RE can the grid deal with” doesn’t have a easy reply, as a latest experiences by the Brookings Institute factors out. The report, titled “Embarassment of riches: The rise of RE in India and steps to handle surplus electrical energy” factors to the challenges that loom within the altering energy scenario within the nation.

In comparison with typical energy technology from coal and fuel, and even hydro-electric ones, energy generated from renewable sources are fairly variable, relying on modifications in cloud-free daylight and winds in supply areas. At low RE ranges, the grid could be managed regardless of this variability, however because the share of RE within the energy sector rises, this turns into a lot tougher. States have to spend money on nimble, standby alternate options to have the ability to reply to drops in energy from renewables. Additionally, when there’s a surge in energy from renewable sources, different crops can’t be shortly backed all the way down to preserve the general provide fixed. In keeping with a research by the Central Electrical energy Authority (CEA), the system-level prices related to managing RE on the grid are nearly Rs 1.5/kWh, or greater than half of latest RE bids.

The Brookings report factors out, moreover, that the focused 175 GW of RE can also be concentrated in solely a handful of states. For instance, Karnataka has nearly 5 GW of photo voltaic, and extra of wind, nicely forward of its targets, however the most load served is simply about 10.2 GW. In the course of the windy months of the monsoon, the demand is as little as 6.5 GW. Within the coming years, the main focus will more and more need to be on the administration of surplus, particularly throughout sure months and instances of the day.

Storage applied sciences may assist save the day sooner or later, with extra RE being steered in direction of storage reasonably than be wasted. However for now, the prices of large-scale storage are nonetheless excessive. Till their viability improves or till prediction of RE availability turns into extra correct, we’ll need to concentrate on balancing provide and demand, or proceed to simply accept the losses – and system prices – of surplus renewable energy.

As an apart to the reader, the report additionally factors out that surplus capability does not robotically assure an finish to load-shedding. The state distribution firms are in poor monetary well being, and unable to buy energy even when it’s accessible, and that is typically an important reason for shedding.

New coverage instructions wanted

To correctly plan for the administration and development of RE in India, the Brookings report suggests 4 steps.

  1. Information seize relating to wastage of RE should be mandated: At present, when surplus RE is thrown away – generally known as ‘curtailment’ – there isn’t any aggregated document stored of this data. Simply as importantly, the explanations for curtailment also needs to be recorded. This could be of big business significance, since in India most energy contracts are arrange in a manner that producers do not receives a commission if their vitality just isn’t delivered. At any time when RE is curtailed for no fault of the producers, there must be a compensation mechanism for this. Draft rules from the Ministry of New and Renewable Power point out that the federal government is shifting on this route.
  2. Frameworks for curtailment compensation should be created: The burden of curtailment should be shared, and India requires honest and environment friendly frameworks for this. Every coal-based plant has its distinct variable prices, so a hierarchy of pain-sharing could be developed based mostly on who would lose probably the most if curtailed. Photo voltaic crops, then again, all have identically marginal prices – zero. If solely technical effectivity yardsticks had been utilized by way of which energy crops must be curtailed, it’s potential that a few of them will probably be disproportionately affected. To minimise the impression on chosen crops, socialising their prices is an possibility. China has executed this; its mannequin may provide a place to begin for India’s efforts too.
  3. RE technology knowledge must be captured with granularity, and dissemminated: For financial in addition to technical causes, the addition of recent RE must be guided by good details about how a lot is already produced and used. Other than the necessity to make higher predictions, customers with rooftop photo voltaic and different RE producers will profit from this data. The Central Electrical energy Authority not too long ago started compiling mixture RE manufacturing monthly, a small step however much more is required.
  4. All items of energy should not be handled the identical: Time of Day pricing should be launched : Nearly all Indian energy transactions are made on the idea of Energy Buy Agreements which deal with all energy the identical. Nevertheless, the worth of energy differs based mostly on the time of day, predictability, ramping skill, and different components. The rise of RE would require the system to be change into extra versatile. Sooner or later, signalling should differ for various grid areas; peak energy that operates just a few hours a day will probably be costlier than baseload coal or opportunistic RE, however such energy should be enabled.

The shift from a bleak, power-scarce scenario to a surplus presents hope that common, reasonably priced entry to vitality will probably be achieved. That is actually one thing to sit up for, however as this Brookings report reminds us, it’s a path that wil be paved higher with foresight and planning for this new actuality.

This text is extracted and tailored from The Rise of RE in India, and Steps to Handle ‘Surplus’ Electrical energy”, a analysis report not too long ago printed by Brookings India. The complete report is obtainable on-line on the site of the organisation –

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