USA-India Bilateral Program ‘Greening the Grid’

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Union Minister of Power Piyush Goyal released the first part of the study “Pathways to Integrate 175 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy into India’s Electricity Grid”.

The second volume, to be released in July, takes a more in-depth look at system operations in the Western and Southern regions.

The study, developed under the U.S.-India bilateral program “Greening the Grid”, confirms the technical and economic viability of integrating 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy into India’s power grid by 2022, and identifies future course of actions that are favorable for such integration.

The Government of India in 2015 had set the ambitious target of adding 100 GW of solar energy and 60 GW of wind energy into the country’s energy mix.

Highlights of the Report:

The report resolves many questions about how India’s electricity grid can manage the variability and uncertainty of adding large amounts of renewable energy into the grid.

The results demonstrate that power system balancing with 100 GW solar and 60 GW wind is achievable at 15-minute operational timescales with minimal reduction in renewable energy output.

India’s current coal-dominated power system has the inherent flexibility to accommodate the variability associated with the targeted renewable energy capacities.

Some of the key operational impacts that came out of the report were: (1) large-scale benefits of fuel savings and reduced emissions due to increased renewable energy production; (2) existing fast-ramping infrastructure is sufficient to maintain grid balance; and (3) in post-175 GW clean energy scenario, coal plants operating at part capacity will need suitable incentives for flexibility.

The study also evaluates the value of strategies to better integrate renewable energy and demonstrates the importance of policy and market planning.

A multi-institutional team from India’s Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) produced the report using advanced weather and power system modeling, under the leadership of Ministry of Power and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with co-sponsorship from the World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the 21st Century Power Partnership.

Background:

USAID has a long-standing collaboration with the Government of India in the area of energy.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced five new partnerships in 2016, four of which are with the Government of India, to expand U.S.-India cooperation on clean energy, environment and climate change.

First among these new partnerships is USAID’s commitment to work with the Bangalore power utility BESCOM and U.S.-based company, Innovari, to launch the first grid integration pilot under the “Greening the Grid” (GTG) initiative. GTG is a joint USAID and Ministry of Power initiative to strengthen India’s power grid to manage large-scale integration of renewable energy. India aims to provide 24/7 power to all Indian households by 2020 by adding and integrating 175 gigawatts of renewable energy into the national grid.

Under the next partnership, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and USAID agreed to expand their solar rooftop program to an additional eight states and 15 utilities. During the first phase of this program, the USAID and MNRE supported the states of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh to introduce appropriate net-metering policies and regulations, and provided technical assistance to the state distribution utilities implementing solar rooftop programs. In the expanded program, USAID will also partner with MNRE to train 5,000 utility engineers and 1,000 bankers and entrepreneurs on installation and operation best practices for solar rooftop systems.

In support of efficient energy usage, USAID also announced a partnership with the Ministry of Power’s public sector energy efficiency company, Energy Efficiency Services Limited, to transform India’s markets for super-efficient air conditioners. Currently, fewer than five percent of households have air-conditioners in India, but with rising demand for cooling and better comfort, the growth rate of air-conditioner sales is expected to accelerate to 30 percent per annum over the next five years. To improve urban air quality through energy efficiency, USAID is partnering with the University of Chicago to support the efforts of the Government of India and Gujarat State Pollution Control Board to pilot a market instrument designed to reduce costs for industrial plants to comply with regulatory limits on emissions, and to provide incentives encouraging emission reductions. The first pilot under this partnership will be tested in Gujarat.

During the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Combating Climate Change, USAID announced its collaboration with the Forest Survey of India (FSI) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to strengthen the latter’s capacity to better predict forest fires, use high-resolution satellite imagery for forest resource assessment, and develop protocols for strengthening forest inventory. This initiative will mobilize the scientific expertise of the U.S. Forest Service.

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