In a recent report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), it has been highlighted that while India has made significant progress in adding renewable energy capacity, further efforts are required to meet its emissions intensity reduction target for 2030. The report emphasizes the need for India to ramp up the share of clean energy in its power system to achieve its climate goals.
According to the report, there are four key recommendations for India to bolster clean energy integration. The first is the implementation of demand-side measures, such as time-of-use tariffs, to encourage shifts in electricity consumption patterns that align with renewable energy generation. The second recommendation emphasizes the development of a well-connected national grid to optimize the utilization of diverse energy sources across regions. The third suggestion focuses on deploying various energy storage options to ensure grid balancing services. Lastly, the report proposes the conversion of fossil fuel-based power plants into flexible operations to accommodate increased renewable energy generation.
Charith Konda, Energy Analyst at IEEFA and the report’s author, emphasizes the importance of increasing clean energy integration in India’s power system to address both the growing demand for electricity and climate concerns. While achieving the goal of raising non-fossil fuel power’s installed capacity share to 50% by 2030 may be relatively attainable, reducing emissions intensity by 45% from 2005 levels requires a greater integration of variable renewable energy sources.
To facilitate clean energy integration, the report suggests the introduction of dynamic time-of-use (ToU) electricity tariffs to incentivize renewable energy consumption and decrease grid balancing requirements. It also commends the Indian government for taking initial steps by issuing guidelines for tariff variations during solar power generation and peak periods.
Additionally, the report highlights the significance of a robust inter-regional grid to absorb and balance regional variations in renewable energy generation, ultimately reducing curtailment. The authors note the positive strides India has taken in building transmission infrastructure to accommodate greater renewable energy capacity.
In terms of energy storage, the report identifies Pumped Hydro Storage (PHS) projects and Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) as promising technologies for grid-balancing services. It suggests expanding the scope of energy storage applications to provide a variety of grid balancing services, contributing to a more reliable power system.
The report also explores the benefits of converting coal-based power plants to operate flexibly, facilitating the integration of renewable energy sources. Flexibility in coal plant operations can prevent the stranding of existing assets, improve the competitiveness of renewable energy and storage solutions, and reduce the per unit cost of coal power.
While acknowledging the challenges associated with these recommendations, including technical, financial, and regulatory aspects, the report emphasizes the need to address them through plant selection, contract redesign, and the development of flexible operations markets.
The IEEFA report calls for concerted efforts from various stakeholders to ensure India’s successful transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable power system.