The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recently organized a conference “Energizing South” in Tamil Nadu’s capital city of Chennai. The conference’s theme was “India at 75: Forging Ahead: Commercially Smart, Sustainable & Secured Power”.
The event saw over 300 delegates attendees and participants with sessions focusing on business opportunities in the power and renewable energy sector, availability of finance, the demand, and supply dynamics, the power market issues, trends, the role of energy storage in grid stability and grid integration among a host of other topics.
Mercom attended the event on day one of the two-day conference held on October 14-15, 2019, and here are some of the key takeaways:
In the opening address, former minister of commerce & industry and civil aviation, Suresh Prabhu said that the government is emphasizing on quality of life as much as on creating economic wealth for the nation. Providing energy access and changing the energy profile of India to cleaner and smarter energy is one of the main aspects of enabling the ease of living.
Ramesh Kymal, chairman CII (southern region) and chairman and managing director at Siemens Gamesa Wind, talked about how the provision of 100% foreign direct investment has been a boost for the sector.
The government’s push towards renewable energy was commended as exceptional by the advisor and former managing director at Juwi India, Rajesh Bhat, who further added, “Now that we have achieved grid parity, the emphasis was on the quality of power made possible through hybrid power and energy storage.
Executive director and CEO at Lanco Tanjore Power Company, Kathir Kamanathan, strongly recommended a reduction in lending rates for the power sector and for renewables to be decoupled from the power sector and classified as a priority sector. With the rising need for finances in the sector, regulatory stability is vital for foreign funds to invest in renewables in the county, he stressed.
Tapas Chakrabarty, general manager-solar projects at JSW Energy, underlined the importance of having a conducive regulatory environment for open access projects as the requirement of power by corporates is increasing, and rooftop solar systems on the premises are not able to supply enough power. Open access regulations, if relaxed, could open up a huge market for corporates and industries to access renewable energy. He also said that India, especially southern India, was well-equipped to be a manufacturing hub for solar mounting structures, trackers, and inverters.
Speaking about the learning curve of engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) players, Rahul Bharadwaj, head of business development at L&T Construction, shed light on how innovations and experiences in project designing have brought down the cost of solar projects. He also was optimistic that the new solar module technologies could bring down the cost of projects further. Payment security, stronger enforcement of renewable purchase obligations and a renewed look at open access are keys to solar sector growth, he opined. Privatization of DISCOMs was another drive the government should consider, Bharadwaj added.
Sanoj Jha, secretary at Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), said that the government’s decision to scale up the renewable target to 175 GW was a conscious decision. Since then, the price of solar has fallen considerably, the RPO targets have been increased, and the DISCOMs are feeling the heat of it. The need for a cleaner environment has never been more emphasized upon and the government’s programs like Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana “SAUBHAGYA,” Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM), Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) were all planned efforts towards a cleaner Indian, he added. The increase in power generation, rise of renewables in the overall power mix, and the addition of power transmission lines are only going to help the march towards energy security, he further noted.
Senior deputy general manager at the southern regional load dispatch center, Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), Sharmeena Verghese, talked about the importance of grid discipline, forecasting, and scheduling in integration of renewable energy into the grid. She also added that the government is also contemplating migration from 15-minute time-block to 5-minute time-block for the deviation settlement mechanism.
Krishnan Rajagopalan, global sales head of hybrid and energy storage at Sterling and Wilson, Venkata Krishna MM, vice president at Amararaja Power Systems, and Wartsila’s Ramakrishnan GK, emphasized the growing need of energy storage to integrate renewable energy into the grid and provide quality power. Storing curtailed energy was another added benefit of energy storage, as Rajagopalan pointed out.
The event brought in stakeholders from the power sector to discuss opportunities, challenges, and emerging technologies that could answer many challenges presently faced by the industry.