Over ₹281 Billion Needed for Building Transmission Systems for Evacuating Renewables

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA), in its annual report for 2019-20, issued updates on the Green Energy Corridor program for the transmission and integration of renewable energy.

To boost the country’s energy and transmission efficiency, the MNRE and PGCIL started the Green Energy Corridor program to evacuate renewable energy from power surplus states to supply to power deficit states.

The program is being implemented in the renewable energy-rich states of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.

Intrastate transmission programs are being funded through 20% equity from the state government, 40% grant from National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), and 40% as a soft loan.

Meanwhile, the interstate transmission programs are funded as 30% equity by the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) and 70% as a soft loan. For the funding of green energy corridors for intrastate and interstate transmission projects, KfW Germany has provided a soft loan amounting to €1 billion (~$1.17 billion). For interstate transmission projects under Part A, B and C of the Green Energy Corridor program, a loan agreement for financial assistance of €500 million (~$584.5 million) from KfW, Germany has been signed by PGCIL.

The current estimated cost of intrastate and interstate transmission systems required to evacuate renewable power is ₹126.9 billion (~$1.7 billion) and ₹154.5 billion (~$2.07 billion), respectively.

According to the report, to facilitate grid integration of solar power parks in 21 states under the Green Energy Corridor-II program, a comprehensive transmission plan was created to evacuate about 20 GW through intrastate and interstate systems.

In 2015, the Ministry of Power assigned works for the transmission programs for solar parks in Kunta (1500 MW), Pavagada (2000 MW), Rewa (750 MW), Bhadla-III (500 MW), Bhadla-IV (250 MW), Essel (750 MW), and Banaskantha (700MW). The transmission works for these solar parks have been completed, according to the latest report.

The annual report further noted that the country’s total energy requirement during the year 2019-20 was 1,291,010 MUs against 1,274,595 MUs during the previous year 2018-19, an increase of 1.3%. The total energy supplied in the country during the year 2019-20 was 1,284,444 MUs as against 1,267,526 MUs during the previous year 2018-19.

As of March 31, 2020, the total installed power capacity stood at 370.1 GW, comprising of 230.6 GW thermal, 45.6 GW hydro, 6.7 GW nuclear, and 87.02 GW from renewable energy sources.

Hydro projects

As of March 31, 2020, the hydroelectric programs in operation accounted for only 28.15% (40.9 GW) and those under execution for 7.84% (11.4 GW) of the total potential.

Also, 63 sites for the development of pumped hydro storage with 96.5 GW installation capacity have been identified across the country. At present, nine pumped hydro storage projects (above 25 MW) having a total installed capacity of 4.7 GW have been constructed, and three projects (1.5 GW) are under construction.

Smart Grid Projects

The report pointed out that to test the various smart grid technologies available, 11 smart grid pilot projects, including a smart city pilot at IIT Kanpur and smart grid knowledge center at Manesar, were approved by the Ministry of Power. These pilot projects covered about 167,000 consumers for a total approved cost of ₹2.54 billion (~$34.08 million).

The Renewable Technology and Integration (RT&I) Division of the CEA planning wing has been entrusted with the responsibility to promote renewable technologies and develop standards for integrating renewable energy with the grid.

The lack of transmission infrastructure to support new renewable energy capacity additions has been a growing concern for solar and wind companies in the country. India’s transmission and distribution system require significant expansion, considering the expected surge in power demand over the coming decade and the rapid installation of solar and wind projects.

Last Year, PGCIL came up with a detailed proposal for establishing a transmission system for the evacuation of power from potential solar and wind energy zones in the country’s western region.