Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal recently released the first part of the study “Pathways to Integrate 175 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy into India’s Electricity Grid”. The study, developed under the U.S.-India bilateral program “Greening the Grid”, confirms the technical and economic viability of integrating 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy into India’s power grid by 2022, and identifies future course of actions that are favorable for such integration. The Government of India in 2015 had set the ambitious target of adding 100 GW of solar energy and 60 GW of wind energy into the country’s energy mix.
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.
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) existing fast-ramping infrastructure is sufficient to maintain grid balance; and (3) in post-175 GW clean energy scenario, coal plants operating at part capacity will need suitable incentives for flexibility. The study also evaluates the value of strategies to better integrate renewable energy and demonstrates the importance of policy and market planning.
A multi-institutional team from India’s Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) produced the report using advanced weather and power system modeling, under the leadership of Ministry of Power and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with co-sponsorship from the World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the 21st Century Power Partnership.