India has ambitious renewable energy plans and a new study shows that it could integrate 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022, including 100 GWs of solar power and 60 GWs of wind power, serving 22 percent of the country’s energy needs. That’s according to a new study from the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which determined the economic viability of India’s plans.
"With renewable energy auction prices at record lows, an immense amount of renewable energy growth is anticipated to be added to India's power system," said Principal Investigator Jaquelin Cochran, a manager in NREL's Strategic Energy Analysis Center. "We wanted to provide a systematic way to plan for that. The results of our study can inform policy and regulatory decisions that support system flexibility and renewable energy investment in India."
NREL worked with the India Ministry of Power, USAID, the World Bank (ESMAP), the 21st Century Power Partnership, Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to produce Greening the Grid: Pathways to Integrate 175 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy into India's Electric Grid. The team modeled weather patterns and power systems to understand how India's electricity grid can manage variability of renewables as it ramps up to 175 GWs of renewables from 9 GWs of solar and 29 GWs of wind currently installed.
"The challenge is harnessing the existing physical flexibility of the power system through appropriate market designs, operational rules, incentive mechanisms, and other regulatory and policy changes," said Sushil Kumar Soonee, coauthor of the report and former CEO of POSOCO. "Robust planning will be critical to achieving the renewable energy goals set by the Indian government. In parallel with institutional changes, what happens at the state level will require follow-up and investigation. Additional studies will be needed to evaluate transmission and operations planning and generator flexibility as India advances toward its goal over the next five years."
The study’s modeling looked at how India’s electric grid is balanced every 15 minutes, even at higher levels of wind and solar, the researchers found that the country’s power system can handle the additional renewable energy without adding new fast-ramping energy sources, like natural gas power plants. The study found that India’s operate at only half their capacity on average. It recommended creating a new tariff structure in India that compensates plants for flexibility and performance rather than focusing on energy delivery.Tweet