Renewable energy: Green push needs a balancing act

At over 36,000 Mw, renewable energy contributes nearly 15 per cent of the country’s total installed electricity generation capacity. If the capacity addition of renewable projects such as solar and wind were to happen as per plans, this number is expected to go up to 1,75,000 MW by 2022.

The steady ramping up of green power — solar, for instance, was just 2MW in 2010 but is now over 4,000 MW — does go a long way in ensuring some degree of leverage for India at climate talks, but simultaneously poses a serious challenge for grid managers. The availability of solar and wind energy is largely determined by the weather conditions, and therefore characterised by strong variability. As a result, power generation from these sources cannot easily be matched to the electricity demand, like power generated from conventional plants such as coal-fired units and gas stations. Integration of large amount of fluctuating RE in the grid is a serious technical challenge for grid managers to ensure smooth operations of the Indian grid — the fifth largest in the world. To compound matters, RE generation forecasting in the country is in its early days.

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