Recent developments in “Round-The-Clock Renewables”
India plans to transition towards renewable energy-based power generation in the near future, thereby minimizing the dependence on conventional fossil fuel sources. The Govt. recently set a target of adding 500 GW of renewable energy capacity & achieving 50% share of renewables in power generation by the year 2030. However, the intermittency of renewables remains a major technical challenge with regards to the large-scale deployment of renewables. To address this issue, the Govt. has made amendments to the National Solar-Wind hybrid policy so as to introduce “Round-The-Clock Renewables” in the electricity system. Round-The-Clock Renewables refers to the continuous supply of renewable energy with the help of energy storage system in order to overcome their intermittent nature. This development has given a much-needed boost to various energy storage technologies, apart from batteries, such as pumped-hydro, compressed air, flywheels, etc.
Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) transitioned from issuing normal & hybrid renewable energy tenders to renewable-plus-storage tenders in 2016. In 2019, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) issued a tender for setting up 1.2 GW of renewable-plus-storage projects. The objective of this tender was to limit the demand-supply mismatch through assured peak power supply. As a part of this tender, the associated projects were eligible for fixed-tariffs based on demand, namely, peak & off-peak tariff. It was also stated that generation sources and energy storage systems have to be co-located. Furthermore, a Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF) of 35% annually had been set for this project. In January 2020, it was announced that Greenko Energies & ReNew Power won the auction of this 1.2 GW project, with Greenko Energies winning 900 MW of the total capacity (1.2 GW) at a off-peak tariff of Rs. 2.88/kWh & peak tariff of Rs. 6.12/kWh & ReNew Power winning the remaining 300 MW capacity at a peak-tariff rate of Rs. 6.85/kWh. The scheduled commissioning date for this project is 30 months from the PPA date (~June 2022). Advancing along this demand-centric path for renewables, SECI recently started issuing tenders for multiple Round-The-Clock renewable energy projects, which have been discussed below.
In late 2019, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) issued a tender to procure a 400 MW renewable energy project on a Round-The-Clock basis. This project was the first-ever Round-The-Clock tender issued by SECI. The energy obtained from this project is to be supplied to New Delhi Municipal Corporation & Dadra and Nagar Haveli. As a part of this tender, solar, wind & hybrid renewable projects can be developed. Furthermore, these installations can be supported with necessary energy storage systems (battery, pumped-hydro, etc.) as per the requirements of the developer. In May 2020, it was announced that ReNew Power won the auction of this 400 MW Round-The-Clock renewable energy project at a tariff of Rs. 2.90/kWh. As per the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), an annual escalation of 3% was set on the quoted tariff until the end of the 15th year of contract. However, SECI later amended this annual tariff escalation to 4%. A Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF) of minimum 80% annually & 70% monthly had been set for this project. Based on this CUF, power generated & other factors, the levelized tariff is expected to be around Rs. 3.59/kWh. According to a report by Prayas Energy Group, the Solar to Wind share is expected to be in the order of 30:70, along with the renewable energy capacity being oversized by 225%. The scheduled commissioning date for this project is 24 months from the effective date of PPA.
In March 2020, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) floated a tender for supplying 5 GW of Round-The-Clock power through a grid-connected renewable project, complemented with power from thermal projects in the country. However, in January last year, amendments were made to the tender & the total capacity of this project was reduced to 2.5 GW. It was stated that the generation sources and the energy storage systems might either be co-located or located at separate sites & considered as a single project. Furthermore, it was also stated that the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) & Power Sale Agreement (PSA) would not be signed until the developers tie-up with a non-renewable power project, and each developer would be able to tie-up with only a single non-renewable energy source. Additionally, atleast 51% of the total annual energy is to be supplied from the renewable sources & a Capacity Utilization Factor (CUF) of minimum 85% annually had been set. Recently, Hindustan Thermal Projects, Greenko Energies, ReNew Samir Urja, Power Mech Projects & JSW New Energy were declared winners in the auction of this project, with Hindustan Thermal Projects winning 250 MW of the total capacity (2.5 GW) at a tariff of Rs. 3.01/kWh. According to a report by Prayas Energy Group, the Solar to Wind share is expected to be in the order of 30:70, along with the renewable energy capacity being oversized by nearly 50%. The scheduled commissioning date for this project is 30 months from the PPA date.
The transition of the SECI-issued tenders all the way from normal renewable energy tenders to hybrid-plus-storage to Round-The-Clock tenders emphasizes the growing focus on firming of renewable energy-integrated power so as to overcome the issue of intermittency. Reduction of intermittency not only boosts reliability of the project but also ensures better grid utilization. Therefore, Round-The-Clock renewable energy based power generation can be viewed as an opportunity for the power industry to progress towards the sustainable development goals of the country.