India is steadily moving to the ambitious target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022 or even earlier. Total contribution from solar is tasked at 100 GW, out of which 40 GW is expected to be roof top solar, rest being grid connected. The wind is expected to contribute 60 GW and 10 GW to be contributed by biomass-based generation and 5 GW by small hydro. By December, 2017, a total of about 62 GW renewable power was installed, of which 16 GW was contributed by grid connected solar and 33 GW was contributed by the wind generation. Annual capacity addition of 12-15 GW of solar and about 10 GW of wind capacity addition is required for meeting the targets.
With such massive addition of renew power, now, it is imperative to establish a robust, stable and reliable transmission grid. Though establishing renewable power parks are relatively less time consuming compared to that of conventional energy power plants, evacuation is a significant challenge. The infirm nature of renewable energy is pointed out as the foremost challenge in getting renewable energy connected to the grid.
As nation, we should not be waiting for the crisis situation to emerge before we start handling it. The country saw huge investments in power transmission inearly part of the decade because of the thermal based power generation explosion and country was required to fight crisis as power was threatened to be bottled up due to lack of power transmission. Again, we are just sitting and waiting for the crisis situation emerging out of renewable generation.
In order to enhance the flow of renewable energy into the transmission grid, India in 2013 has announced the National Green Corridor Program (NGCP) worth Rs 430 billion. The corridor will enable renewable energy flow into the National Grid Network.
It will act as a dedicated transmission network for RE across different RE potential states. It will also facilitate evacuation from solar parks and large-scale grid-connected solar and wind projects. The corridor is expected to boost the inter-state sale of RE and thereby to help states fulfil their Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs).The Green Energy Corridor is expected to come online by March 2020 with the first phase of inter-state transmission network completed by the end of 2018. A total of 8,500 ckt-kms of transmission lines is to be installed by 2020 with an approx. investment of Rs 380 billion.
That said, renewables bring variability and uncertainties of power flows in the system by their inherent nature of generation dependencies on weather. Recently Hero Future Energies launched its wind-solar power in Karnataka. Although its wind farm has a 50 MW capacity and its solar addition is 28.8 MW, the evacuation ability remains at 50 MW due to the variable nature of renewable power.These vagaries of renewables need be countered by the two pronged strategy of controlling the electrical parameters of the system as well as by providing supplement through the other generation sources which could be switched on and off instantly. These could be hydro and gas based sources of power generation.
Unfortunately, both these sources are less than easily possible in India due to various reasons. The alternative solution to the problem lies in ramping up the energy storage efforts. Consistently falling prices of batteries in terms of cost per KWH, have rapidly been driving the large scale grid storage possibilities across the world. Studies show that prices of li-ion battery shall get down to below $200/kWh by 2019, and the cumulative installed base of energy storage to reach 52 GW globally by 2025, up from 4 GW today.
Clearly, the renewables story is here to stay and still has multiple legs to continue the low carbon energy march. However, it is imperative that the social gains made through competitively achieved low cost of renewable generation should be supported by the robust transmission infrastructure based on the competitively bid power evacuation model.
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