Getting wind and solar: Lessons for India

International Energy Agency (IEA) recently launched a report Getting Wind and Solar onto the grid: A manual for policy makers which is a compilation of the best practices from countries around the world in integrating wind and solar in the grid. IEA has approached the issue by making recommendations based on the Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) penetration in the grid. In addition to bursting the various myths and claims related to VRE integration, the report aims to serve as a handbook for phased adoption of wind and solar among the countries.

The four phase structure of IEA’s recommendation

IEA_2015

phases

An outline for successful integration in India

The overarching theme of recommendations for phase 2 countries like India is to get the grid infrastructure in order. Countries in this phase i.e. around 10% of wind and solar out of the total grid capacity need to upgrade its operational capabilities. To an extent India has got it right, it has moved away from building power evacuation for small solar projects to integrating them at a solar park level, although large capacity of wind power evacuation has been on a redundant evacuation system. At the distributed generation level a lot of state governments have restricted rooftop system installation based on the distribution transformer capacity which dint happen in many other developed countries.

Four point approach for India

phase2

In addition to establishing a grid code which is crucial for RE integration in a country like India, the report recommends a four point operational principle for system operators.

  • Visibility of a sufficient number of power plants to the system operator, including VRE.
  • Implementation and use of VRE production forecasts.
  • Scheduling of plants, management of interconnections with other balancing areas, and management of operating reserves according to load and VRE forecasts (in systems that have undergone market liberalisation this will likely require changes to market design).
  • Ability on the part of the system operator to control a sufficient number of plants close to and during real-time operations.

Overall, the report provides a good tool for assessing India’s preparedness in integrating RE. European front runners like Germany, Italy and Spain dint anticipate the effects of VRE integration and hence a manual like this is key to enable other countries to adopt practices in a phased manner. Setting the required grid infrastructure and practices in place is not capital intensive as the experience from other countries show that such cost is less than 10% of the generation capacity. Adding RE in the grid is a challenging issue and needs to be addressed, or as the report puts it In some ways it is analogous to riding a bicycle: the rider must make continuous adjustment to keep it in balance.”

For more info: IEA report, 2017

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