5-year power vision: Scaling up the grid integration of renewable energy

Twesh Mishra New Delhi | Updated on July 01, 2019

With green energy rising, thermal producers may have to adjust operations

The Centre has advised thermal power producers to prepare for a scenario in which there will be a larger scale grid integration of renewable energy.

Simply put, the total power demand will be met by a higher share of renewable energy, requiring thermal power producers to adjust their operations accordingly.

A joint presentation by the Ministry of Power and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) said that in a scenario with 130 GW of installed renewable energy generation capacity by 2022, the Plant Load Factor (PLF) of coal plants during peak summer months could drop to 35-40 per cent. PLF is a measure of the power generated vis-a-vis the installed capacity.

This presentation was made during the preparation of a Five Year Vision Document for the two Ministries, in line with directives issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The average PLF of thermal plants in the country was 60.7 per cent during FY18. The PLF for NTPC, the country’s largest thermal power producer, stood at 77.90 per cent during that period. The present installed grid connected capacity of renewable energy is around 80,000 MW, according to data compiled by the MNRE.

A lower PLF signals tougher times for coal-based power producers as preference for renewable energy would eat into their business. In order to better integrate renewable energy, it has been proposed to do away with the exemptions for renewable energy transmission.

Speaking at the session, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, and New and Renewable Energy R K Singh said that the agenda is to treat all power at par on the transmission network. “The plan is to move towards a source-neutral transmission network,” he said.

Transmission charges

The presentation also noted that as the renewable energy capacity increases, the players will also have to pay for inter-State transmission charges. It charted a vision of improving operational efficiency of existing power plants, and ageing, inefficient thermal power plants.

A goal of adding 10,000 MW of hydropower capacity in the next five years has also been listed. Reducing transmission and distribution losses to under 10 per cent in urban and below 15 per cent in rural areas is also on the agenda.

This will be through 100 per cent metering of all consumers and smart and/or prepaid meter rollout to enable remote energy audits. Covering 200 high population urban areas with advanced smart grids, including urban microgrids, and renewable integration has also been proposed.

Published on July 01, 2019

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