AVP, Strategic Planning Group
Economic development in India has stimulated the demand for Electricity and the total consumption is expected to reach 15,280 TWh in 2040, from 4,926 TWh in 2012, as per India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF). The demand is expected to be met from all energy sources like Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, Solar, Wind, etc. It becomes necessary to increase the share of renewable energy mix, thereby establishing more stable and secure critical infrastructure to facilitate economic growth. Further, to limit the rise in temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, it becomes vital to reduce the emissions from Electricity generation from Conventional Energy sources. India has set an ambitious target to set up 227 GW renewable energy sources by 2022. According to the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness index 2018 by EY, the Indian renewable energy sector is the third most attractive renewable energy market in the world. India Energy Outlook 2021 by IEA has predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic will drive down the coal and oil demand and increase renewable energy generation from Wind and Solar by 15%.
India is the third-largest producer and second-largest consumer of electricity in the world and has an installed power capacity of 379.13 GW as of February 2021. For 2020- 21, the electricity generation target from conventional sources was fixed at 1,330 BU, comprising 1138.533 BU of thermal energy; hydro energy (140.357 BU) and nuclear (43.880 BU); and 7.230 BU was imported from Bhutan. Further, the electrification of the country will promote the socio-economic well-being of the people, and the Government of India is making efforts to electrify every nook of the country.
Domestic energy demand is expected to grow due to increasing industrial growth, nuclear families, shrinking household sizes, and urbanization. Policies in India, over the last decade, have proved effective and accordingly, 96.7 percent of Indian households are now connected to the grid, with another 0.33 percent relying on off-grid electricity sources. 2.4 percent of Indian households remain unelectrified (State of Electricity Access in India, CEEW).
India’s progress on household electricity access (1980-2020)
India will be one of the epicenters of Industrial development in near future. Further, the growth in commercial space will inflate the electricity demand for indoor environmental requirements like air conditioning and lighting. Transition to electrified mobility and industrial applications will also add to the increasing demand. Government plans to electrify rail routes will add to the demand. Expected increase in electricity demand in India in the coming years provides enormous opportunities for Greenko to harness renewable energy.
Source- Global energy transformation: A roadmap to 2050, IRENA
The ongoing Climate change is inducing entities to undergo an obligatory transition from fossil fuels to Renewable energy sources like Solar, Wind, etc. to limit GHG emissions, increasing sea levels, melting glaciers, and increasing temperature. Further to ensure energy security, it becomes necessary to diversify energy sources to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.
The solar power sector in India is expected to undergo explosive growth in the upcoming years and IEA states that solar will match coal’s share in the Indian power sector in two decades. Presently, Solar accounts for less than 4% of India’s electricity generation, and coal is close to 70%. By 2040, they converge in the low 30%, and this electrifying turnover is attributed to policy initiatives and targets set by the Government. The Indian Electricity sector is at the cusp of a Solar Revolution and there is huge potential not only for large PV plants but, also for small distributed renewable energy sources like solar
Source - The Future of Distributed Renewable Energy in India, Climate Policy Initiative
rooftops, solar pumps, cold storages etc. Solar energy is now the lowest-cost source of new energy in India. Spain, India, and the Middle East will continue to be the markets with the lowest solar Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The photovoltaic (PV) systems CAPEX will continue to decline in 2021 by 5% year on year, largely driven by decreasing component prices. Meanwhile, average module efficiency records continue to increase, surpassing 22.5% in PERC monocrystalline cell commercial production, and are forecasted to reach 24% by 2022. Solar energy has the potential to meet the energy needs of low incomed residential groups and thereby, can also help in achieving 100% electrification of households. Further, there are various initiatives taken by stakeholders to trigger the domestic manufacturing of solar panels and this could even lead to further lowering of price.
Power system flexibility is defined as the ability of a power system to reliably and cost-effectively manage the variability and uncertainty of demand and supply across all relevant timescales. The deployment of variable renewable energy sources is accompanied by challenges such as increase in system requirements for balancing supply and demand. To effectively aid the transition from fossil fuels and ultimately to Net Zero levels, it becomes necessary to identify and exploit various flexible system integration sources in all stages viz., Generation, Distribution, Storage.
Source - IRENA
International experience suggests that a diverse mix of flexibility investments is needed for the successful system integration of wind and solar PV. Operational Complexity rises as the share of variable renewables rises. Hydro Power and Pumped Storage systems are flexible renewable energy sources in India for a long period. The need for flexible energy system was realized during the pandemic and hence, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has come up with the regulation to operate coal-fired power plants with minimum generation levels at 55%. This has proved effective in increasing the capability of coal-fired plants to accommodate VRE. Supply-side Flexibility system integration further includes Grid reinforcement and planning to effectively accommodate VRE energy generation and several small-scale initiatives like rooftop net metering, which has been effective for households. Network developmental innovations, technology up-gradation, Research on Modelling and Optimization, Grid Digitization are further required to develop resilient, reliable, and transparent systems.
Energy Storage Systems will play a crucial role in increasing the system flexibility to accommodate the demand requirements. The energy storage market in India witnessed a demand of 23 GWh in 2018 with 56% of the battery demand coming from the power backup inverter segment. The raw materials for localized battery manufacturing are limited and this serves as a setback in integrating flexible storage systems. Recycling of batteries and others should be encouraged to drive domestic manufacturing. Pumped Hydro Energy Storage has been the most effective energy storage system over the years and it has now become necessary to develop small-scale storage devices with increased efficiency and decreased cost to aid the smooth transition. This development would ultimately lead to the large-scale adoption of Green Energy technologies at all levels.
The race to Net Zero 2050 requires the deployment of various renewable energy technologies and other BoS systems on a massive scale. The changing scenarios like the decreased cost of RE systems, the flexibility of energy systems, policy initiatives, and global pressure will lead to a historic shift. The research to diversify the energy sources will prove effective in exploring new feasible technologies. The augmentation of flexible systems like making the Grid systems smarter and resilient from threats will aid in the Re-Electrification pathways by increasing the share of renewable channels.
Climate change mitigation is one of the key areas for the countries to contribute to promote sustainable development and ensure the socio-economic well-being of the general population. GHG emissions are major drivers of global warming leading to various human ecological consequences. India is one of the largest energy producers and consumers in the world. Energy Sector accounts for 73% of GHG emissions which is the result of cumulative energy usage in Iron and Steel Industries, Petro Chemical Industries, Transport sectors, Residential and Commercial buildings. This gives rise to the need to shift to low carbon energy technologies and energy-efficient techniques. Further, the deployment of renewable energy and subsequent decrease in usage of conventional energy sources like Coal, Oil, etc will also help in reducing the catastrophic events.
Key clean technologies ramp up by 2030 in the net zero pathway
Note: MU = megajoules; GDP = gross domestic Product in purchasing Power parity
Further to Decarbonizing the electricity systems, innovations in storage technologies, electrolyzers, carbon capture systems can aid the transformative journey. Green Hydrogen and Molecules are expected to evolve as an alternative fuel replacing fossils, especially in energy-intensive industrial sectors. The exponential growth in the electrolysis project pipeline in 2020 and the unprecedented interest around hydrogen as a decarbonization tool have been driven by a combination of falling costs and policy support. The declining cost of low-carbon hydrogen is anticipated to continue to fall by a further 40% through 2025 due to the falling cost of renewable electricity. But, the obstacles for tapping this fuel like electrolysers, transportation of green hydrogen, and the requirement of renewable energy for providing the power source are to be subjugated. Carbon capture, utilisation, and storage systems are important technological systems to mitigate global warming by capturing and storing the emission. Cost of the technology is a major bottleneck for effectively utilizing, innovating and providing policy assistance to speed up the adoption.
Circular Economy practices can also augment climate change mitigation by increasing the life cycle of materials and also thereby reducing the corresponding GHG emissions associated with the manufacturing process, transportation of raw materials. Material Efficiency plays a significant role in promoting circular economic business models. Take-Make-Waste linear models when replaced with circular models can have impactful results in decarbonizing the systems. Life cycle emissions of solar and wind systems will also be drastically reduced since a major portion of emissions is from the Fabrication of systems. The barriers like Government regulations, Technological feasibility, Consumer behaviour, and expectations should be handled efficaciously to establish synergies between decarbonization and circular business models.