India starts work on green power corridors

New Delhi: Faced with an ambitious green energy target of 175,000 megawatts (MW) by 2022, India has started work to set up transmission corridors to supply green power across the national grid.
State-owned Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd (PGCIL) plans to construct transmission links for 10,000MW solar capacity that may involve an investment of about Rs.9,000 crore.
Of the total 100,000MW solar power capacity planned, 20,000MW will come from solar parks and 40,000MW each from roof-top and distributed generation projects. The government plans to set up 25 such solar parks. India has around 300 days of sunshine per year.
“Given the nature of solar power, setting up the transmission system is a challenge. The PGCIL plans to build the inter-state transmission system for nine such solar parks,” said a government official requesting anonymity.
Stability of the power grid will be important in the transmission of green energy as it will have to factor in the variation in solar and wind energy generated.
A grid collapse would mean states that draw power from a particular network face a blackout. In 2012, such a grid failure in India led to the largest known outage in world history, affecting 620 million people.
On 31 July 2012, the northern grid collapsed, and on 1 August, the northern, eastern and northeastern grids failed.
PGCIL operates around 113,587 circuit km of transmission lines and plans to spend Rs.1 trillion to increase India’s inter-regional power transfer capacity from 46,450MW to 72,250MW by 2017. The capital expenditure planned by PGCIL for the current year is Rs.32,500 crore.
An earlier target to install 20,000MW of solar energy capacity by 2022 was raised fivefold to 100,000MW.
The government has also set a target of generating 60,000MW in wind power capacity by then. Renewable energy, at present, accounts for only 35,777MW of India’s total power generation capacity of 272,503MW.
“Getting this quantum of solar and wind power on the grid would require forecasting the generation and setting up of renewable energy management centres in the states and at the levels of state load dispatch centres, regional load dispatch centres and national load dispatch centre,” said another PGCIL executive aware of the developments, requesting anonymity.
The transmission corridors planned by PGCIL are in addition to the green energy corridors project under Indo-German Bilateral Development Cooperation Programme for which German development bank KfW has decided to provide up to €1 billion (around Rs.7,030 crore today) as concessional loans.
A PGCIL spokesperson confirmed the development and said, “The transmission of different stages are being finalized.”
The emphasis on solar and wind power is also expected to strengthen India’s standing at global climate change negotiations that culminate in a summit in Paris in December.
The industry welcomed the move.
“Connecting the renewable energy together is a good idea to evacuate electricity out of state. From the technology point of view, the grid may be susceptible to ups and downs. One needs to think about certain generating technologies, which can balance the ups and downs,” said Nandkumar Pai, managing director of Wärtsilä India Pvt. Ltd involved in providing power solutions.
India needs as much as $200 billion (around Rs.12.7 trillion today) to meet its target of installing 100,000MW of solar power capacity and about 60,000MW of wind power capacity by 2022. The government aims to provide green power at less than Rs.4.50 a unit.
Its focus on renewable energy stems from the fact that the country has an energy import bill of around $150 billion, which is expected to reach $300 billion by 2030.
India imports 80% of its crude oil and 18% of its natural gas requirements. The government aims to effect a 10% cut in energy imports by 2022 and a 50% cut by 2030.
Source: Mint; 07 July 2015
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