Grid integration of renewable energy: Five key considerations for DISCOMS
The world is transitioning towards renewable energy, and India is no exception. The Indian government has set ambitious targets to increase the share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix. This presents both opportunities and challenges for the power distribution sector (DISCOMS) in India. The DISCOMS need to take measures to integrate renewable energy into their operations to achieve the targets while remaining profitable. In this article, we will discuss five key measures that DISCOMS should take to integrate renewables.
- Large-scale energy storage: One of the main challenges of integrating renewable energy is its intermittent nature. DISCOMS need to prepare to accommodate an increasing amount of renewable energy, and to do so, they must deploy large-scale energy storage. Storage can be provided by battery systems or pumped hydro-storage systems. This would increase the firmness of renewable energy, reduce power procurement costs, and handle a variety of power sources.
- Better renewable energy forecasting: DISCOMS need to develop better RE forecasting capabilities to reduce their deviation costs and reduce the need for real-time balancing. Accurate forecasting can help DISCOMS plan better for energy supply and demand, ensuring that they meet the demand while keeping costs low.
- Stringent implementation of RPO mandate: States and DISCOMS are mandated to meet the targets of renewable purchase obligations (RPOs) every year. However, the must-run status of renewable energy means that some states end up purchasing more than what they need while falling short of their obligations. A stringent implementation of the RPO mandate would ensure a fairer distribution of the excess cost of absorbing renewable energy.
- Fair compensation for rooftop solar power: Rooftop solar plants let consumers meet part of their load from renewable solar energy. However, it does pose some challenges to DISCOMS. They may lose a high-paying consumer, and it may not be economical for the DISCOM to purchase power from the prosumer at the prescribed rate. DISCOMS should be fairly compensated for the additional expenses they may incur to integrate rooftop solar power generation.
- Promotion of mini-grids: Mini-grids can provide more predictable power in remote and sparsely populated areas. They can also be used to provide greater resilience to critical infrastructure such as hospitals. A PPP model can be explored in such remote areas, with the government providing VGF in return for the concessionaire supplying power at a specified rate while meeting specified service quality targets.
To summarise, the following table highlights the five key measures DISCOMS should take to integrate renewable energy:
|Large-scale energy storage||Deployment of large-scale energy storage systems to increase the firmness of renewable energy, reduce power procurement costs, and handle a variety of power sources.|
|Better renewable energy forecasting||Development of better RE forecasting capabilities to reduce deviation costs and reduce the need for real-time balancing.|
|Stringent implementation of RPOs||Implementation of RPO mandates to ensure a fairer distribution of the excess cost of absorbing renewable energy.|
|Fair compensation for rooftop solar||Provision of fair compensation to DISCOMS for the additional expenses they may incur to integrate rooftop solar power generation.|
|Promotion of mini-grids||Encouragement of mini-grids to provide more predictable power in remote and sparsely populated areas.|
In conclusion, the integration of renewable energy is crucial for India’s sustainable development. DISCOMS must take proactive measures to integrate renewable energy while remaining profitable. The five key measures outlined above can help DISCOMS achieve this goal. By implementing these measures, DISCOMS can ensure a smooth transition towards a more sustainable and renewable energy future.