India’s 1 GW-plus ‘ultra-mega’ solar parks have attracted foreign capital and top global developers to the nation. The huge sites have offered investors the chance to join a $500-700 billion (Rs38-53 lakh crore) renewable energy and grid infrastructure investment boom in the coming decade, according to a report from the U.S.-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (Ieefa).
The India’s Utility-Scale Solar Parks – A Global Success Story study outlines the execution model for India’s vast sites as well as the developers working on them and the solar power price tariffs they have produced.
The ultra-mega power plant concept involves a state government or electricity distribution company providing a central grid connection and acquiring land on which PV projects can be built, shielding developers from procurement risks and related delays.
“This approach has driven economies of scale and attracted global capital into India’s renewable energy sector over the last five years, with an immediate boon, in mid-2017, of halving solar tariffs to a record low of Rs2.44/kWh ($0.032),” said report author and Ieefa analyst Kashish Shah in the study.
Utility scale solar parks in India have overcome the three major hurdles associated with renewables development in India, according to the report –the risks associated with project execution, off-takers and operations and maintenance.
India has nine ultra-mega solar parks which are intended to boast a huge 14,693 MW of generation capacity and which are under various stages of construction. Some 6,693 MW of that figure is already operational, 3 GW is partially operational and 5 GW is under development.
Two of the mammoth sites are claimed to be the largest commissioned worldwide to date.
The Bhadla solar park, in Rajasthan, is the world’s largest installation and covers more than 14,000 acres for a generation capacity of 2,245 MW.
“It is worth looking back over the last four years to see just how far the Indian renewable energy industry has advanced,” said Shah in the report. “Indian utility scale solar parks have kick-started India’s energy sector transition. Amid myriad policy and project execution issues, India’s utility scale solar park model has firmly stood its ground.”
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I have the following concerns and strong opinion on
A. Large scale solar MEGA solar farms development in India – You being in the profession are aware I just summarized
1. A Grid Connection in itself leads to additional costs for solar farms along with the potential costs of new transmission infrastructure apart that there is always a big gap and abnormal delays to match safe and secure solar power evacuation in place when solar plants are ready for grid connection. The utilities do not compensate deeded generation – For delays, partial evacuation, and curtailment during peak solar generation.
2. Large solar farms supply 100% of their outputs to the existing grid at discrete points that are often remote from use areas and which may also physically compete with existing large electrical point-sources. This makes managing the existing grid more difficult when solar penetration increases. The capacity utilization for the transmission system, it is wheeling, and calculated losses up distributed network make solar energy uneconomical to the distribution network and utilities- Kindly carry a case-specific study Typically consider Badala Solar Plant delivering power to a remote distribution 33 KV S/S in Chittorgarh, Bundi and Bhilwara Rural feeders – The Rs. 2.44 / unit power will not be cost-effective for 25 years.
3. A Grid Connection in itself leads to additional costs for solar farms along with the potential costs of new transmission lines and EHV S/S.
4. The presence of water rights in Rajasthan from Indira Gandhi Canal for agriculture and potable service and the potential loss of those rights in the event of onsite agricultural dormancy could be an obstacle to eventual ag restoration and thus to permitting of water use for the solar facility. The robotic cleaning is not cost-effective in the present tariff.
5. Large Solar Farms are controlled by IPPs have risk for 25 years of operation as most developers skips and will not stay for 25 years for efficient O&M of the assets
6. The energy transmission is controlled by utilities, and may not suffice and allow easier acceptance of solar energy penetration. State Utilities are not very eager to purchase this kind of energy to help Rural Population through Renewable
7. Energy Portfolio requirement for 2030 – Utility-scale solar, while cost-effective for large energy developers, the economy of scale provided by large consolidated facilities will require first and foremost a great deal of land, preferably flat, in sunny open areas, when there is a great deal of land of this type available, especially in Rajasthan, this land also is frequently either wildlife habitat or extensively used for agriculture now with the emergence of INGP. Such is not the case in most other Indian states where the most desirable land for solar energy, closest to the existing grid connections will be most valuable for agriculture.
8. Larger penetration of solar through MEGA scale solar farms and HVDC interstate transmission system will have technical issues of Frequent POWER SWINGS, Higher curtailment during Peal Solar generation, and a completion time gap between Solar Farms and HVDC interstate transmission network.
9. Extensive engineering studies are required for load flows, demand-supply gap, load response, grid balancing, droop setting in conventional power plants, solar energy curtailment for India’s mega target of 450GW by 2030 if these targets are offered to MEGA Solar Farms added with HVDC / EHV grid infrastructure and transmission network.
B. Distributed Solar Generation
1. From small to medium scale solar energy installations 500 KW to 2 MW capacity envisaged in defined Component under KUSUM Central Scheme through PV, could be engineered and designed to generate moderate amounts of electricity to be integrated onto the local electrical distribution system at the point of both generation and service the local load.
2. DSG can be developed anywhere with existing infrastructure most commonly in urban or suburban areas a preferred choice compared to utility-scale construction. These could be placed on building rooftops, parking lots, roadways, corporate yards and smaller private or public areas, or any location where local requirements of space, need for sunlight and visual sensitivity will permit.
3. The normally smaller scale of these facilities in themselves will prove cost-effective and they can be affordable to utilities and all sections of consumers.
4. The DSG installation at the identified site will have the ability to place energy directly onto the local network where it is needed means that long transmission lines are unnecessary and line losses are negligible, which helps bring costs down.
5. There are very few or no permitting costs associated with distributed solar in most communities.
6. The costs of solar generation and EPC cost has declined overall through the combination of improved technology, efficiency, greater market penetration ion recent past for PV installations; as this occurs, DSG will become more cost-effective. Distributed solar can almost always use existing transmission infrastructure at little or no cost. Much of Distributed Solar is consumed locally, at or near the point of generation, and those generation points can be theoretically spread across the area where it would be used.
7. This results in even distribution and high grid stability, with decreased instances of accidental or rolling blackouts and brownouts. Also virtually all issues related to biology, stormwater, noise, or any other possible environmental impact disappear.
8. The Census revenue record confirms that urban and rural area has millions of acres unutilized land across the country which could be allocated for countrywide DSG development.
9. India has 55000 to 60000 33 / 11 KV S/S all across the country and can easily accommodate 200 GW solar energy in phased way i.e. by 2022 – 23. Assuming 30 to 40 % solar penetration fairly reasonable levels of off-peak storage ability could be created at each S/S, the need for any major electric generation source besides solar would be greatly diminished and mostly eliminated just using DSG+ Storage installations.
10. The advancement in inverter technology for higher capability of supplying reactive power, minimizing harmonics and better load forecasting, advancement in IT for fine-tune control of grid stability has placed DSG with appropriate storage a preferred cost economic solution for all section of the society – Larger application and higher penetration of solar will provide 100% energy security to Rural India and farmers.
To meet the higher percent renewable energy goal by 2030, India will need a mix of centralized, large-scale projects but need more focus on DSG with storage. In this campaign platform for achieving a broader renewable energy portfolio, 40GW new solar energy projects for large-scale facilities are tendered by PSU’s / SECI and for of localized DSG generation, KUSUM scheme for 40000 megawatts targets are floated (Very poor response on a/c of policy paralysis between state and center). This logically extends the policies of Central and State Governments.
It will be my pleasure to provide a better insight into your assignment to evaluate the DISCOMS of Rajasthan for the transformation of its electricity sector by 2030.
My warm regards
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