Renewable energy: Here is how to use subsidies for sustained growth

At present, installed electricity generation capacity in India is about 330GW. About 17.5 % (57.5GW) is through renewable generation (wind: 32.3GW, small hydro:4.3GW, solar:12.5GW and balance biomass generation: 8.1GW). Renewable energy capacity is likely to reach 30% by FY19. The country has set an ambitious target of adding 175GW of renewable generation capacity comprising 100GW solar, 60GW wind and 15GW bio mass, small hydro and others by 2022. The solar capacity target includes setting up of 34 solar parks with around 20GW capacity. Recently, the government has decided to establish another 20GW under solar parks. But wind and solar generation are susceptible to variability, which affects power system operations. In order to integrate high penetration of renewables several actions must be taken such as flexibility in the conventional generation, Renewable Energy Management Centres (REMCs) and augmentation of transmission systems.

But to begin with there is no policy framework for electrical energy storage in India. The government should come out with one indicating the target & incentive package to encourage developers. This would facilitate appropriate regulatory framework in the country. Recently, CERC had come out with a discussion paper on storage, but it does not include pump storage, which is the most cost-effective and largest bulk storage source in the world. The national electricity policy mandates that a spinning reserve of at least 5% at the national level should be created to ensure grid security, quality and reliability of power supply. This amounts to almost 16.5GW considering present installed capacity. It is yet to be implemented. At least, 5GW reserve should be implemented on national basis to start with. More important, the country needs a time-based reserve system.

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