Report Release on Pathways to Integrate 175 Gigawatt of Renewable Energy into India’s Electricity Grid

Report Release on Pathways to Integrate 175 Gigawatt of Renewable Energy into India’s Electricity Grid

June 29th, 2017- New Delhi, Shri Piyush Goyal, Honorable Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, and Mines, Government of India, released the national study on “Pathways to Integrate 175 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy into India’s Electric Grid” in New Delhi on June 29th, 2017. The report jointly prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) is conducted over a year modeling exercise. It evaluates the operation of India’s power grid in 2022 with 175 GW of renewable energy (RE) to identify potential cost and operational concerns and actions that will be needed to efficiently integrate the targeted levels of wind and solar generation. This study has been conducted under the Greening the Grid program, an initiative co-led by India’s Ministry of Power and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The report resolves many questions about how India’s electricity grid can manage the variability and uncertainty of adding large amounts of renewable energy into the grid. The results demonstrate that power system balancing with 100 GW solar and 60 GW wind is achievable at 15-minute operational timescales with minimal reduction in renewable energy output. India’s current coal-dominated power system has the inherent flexibility to accommodate the variability associated with the targeted renewable energy capacities.

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Some of the key operational impacts that came out of the report were: (1) large-scale benefits of fuel savings and reduced emissions due to increased renewable energy production; (2) fast-ramping infrastructure (such as natural gas turbines) is not necessary to maintain grid balance; and (3) in post 175 GW clean energy scenario, coal plants operating at only half their capacity will pave the way for a new tariff structure that moves away from focusing on energy delivery and instead compensates plants for performance that achieves flexibility goals.

The study also evaluates the value of strategies to better integrate renewable energy and demonstrates the importance of policy and market planning The results were based on a number of key assumptions including perfect transmission planning existing within each state but not necessarily on corridors between states; compliance of all coal plants with the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) regulation that coal plants be able to operate at 55 percent of rated capacity; and a perfect load forecast. Input data, assumptions and study results were validated extensively by more than 150 technical experts from central agencies including the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. (PGCIL), and National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC); state institutions including grid operators, power system planners, renewable energy nodal agencies and distribution utilities; and the private sector, including renewable energy developers, thermal plant operators, utilities, research institutions, market operators and industry representatives.