Global warming has become a horrible reality today. Islands on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal are fast disappearing, scalding heat waves are a common occurrence and flood-prone cities are experiencing severe droughts. Air pollution is choking our cities and our lives have become unbearable.
Reducing our carbon dioxide emissions has become an urgent necessity. Steps have to be taken to ameliorate our environment, which is why the government has introduced a New National Wind Solar Hybrid Policy.
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Provisions of the National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy
2018’s National Wind Solar Hybrid Policy seeks to encourage the generation of renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power, especially the “promotion of [a] large grid connected wind-solar PV hybrid system”.
It aims to utilise land and infrastructure more efficiently, as well as accomplish more grid stability by reducing variability in production. It was announced by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in May 2018.
Research has found out that solar and wind resources are complementary in nature in India. Areas with great potential for generation of solar power also have great potential for wind power. Thus, a harmonious integration of both these resources would result in minimal variability and would better utilisation of land and infrastructure.
Wind turbine generators and solar photovoltaic systems will be connected through the same grid connection and the integration of these two sources will happen both at the alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) level. The policy allows flexibility in the share of amount of wind and solar energy generated.
However, it must be ensured that the rated power capacity of one form of energy resource cannot be less than twenty five per cent of the rated power capacity of the other form. A wind-solar plant will considered a hybrid plant only if this condition is met.
The government also suggests that where the capacity for wind energy supersedes the capacity for solar energy, the solar power component could be relatively smaller in size or intensity. The reverse applies for areas where the solar density is high. Battery storage has been permitted so that stability can be guaranteed. New hybrid projects will be pushed forward while older ones will be upgraded.
The government has also said that existing ones can exceed their sanctioned transmission capacity. It has decided that power will be procured on a tariff-based approach, after a government conducted auction. Government bodies have also been tasked with formulating appropriate standards and regulations.
The government expects that due to this policy, the total renewable power installed capacity will increase from its present 70 gigawatt (2017-18) to 175 gigawatt by 2022, with solar power contributing 100 gigawatt and wind power contributing 60 gigawatt.
The power generated will be used for captive purposes, may be sold to another entity at predetermined tariffs or sold for distribution. It can also be used to fulfil the State Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (SERC) Renewable Purchase Obligation. Measures of capacity delivered at grid interface point, effective Capacity Utilisation Factor and unit price of electricity will be kept in mind while bids are being placed for the procurement of hybrid power.
For hybridisation of the existing power plants, no extra transmission charges will be levied if the sanctioned capacity is already being used. Extra charges will be imposed if transmission capacity is surpassed or greater access is required. Technical feasibility will be checked before allowing additional facilities and the responsibility to oversee this will fall to the project developer.
Only AC integration is permitted at the moment. Laws will need to be framed before DC integration is allowed. AC integration will be based on Availability Based Tariff (ABT) meter readings on the low or high tension side of the plant while DC integration will depend on the DC meter readings installed on the DC output.
Government bodies will take bids for hybridisation projects and the point of reference for selection will be tariffs.
Additions of battery storage to hybrid projects has been permitted as it will act as a power reserve, will decrease variability of supply and furnish a higher energy output for a pre-sanctioned capacity.
Bids on hybrid projects with battery storage will be grounded on the average daily minimum firm power output, the amount of variability in output and tariff.
Necessary regulations and frameworks will be drawn up by the Central Electricity Authority and Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will also release technical guidelines.
Fiscal and financial stimulus will be provided for the setting up of hybrid power plants. Schemes and programmes to this effect will also be initiated. Research on this synergic relationship between wind and solar power will also be encouraged.
Benefits of National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy
- The government believes that this policy will help reduce power generation expenses by a quarter. Since wind and solar resources are complementary in India, the same land as well as transmission systems is being used.
- The amount of power generated is also slated to double, and the extra cost has been nearly mitigated.
- Generation efficiency will be enhanced; the plant load factor is expected to jump to forty per cent from the current twenty two per cent. Whereas eighty per cent would remain unutilized and go to waste during low wind or low sunshine periods, this will be greatly mitigated under this new hybridisation system.
- The cost required to establish a hybrid power plant will also be twenty five per cent less than what is required to establish a standalone wind or solar power plant.
- Aims to eliminate variability or greatly minimise it during renewable power production.
- Grid stability has been emphasised.
Harnessing renewable resources is key to tackling climate change. Coal and Hydropower are limited resources and due to excessive use, both fossil fuel repositories and rivers have been greatly depleted in terms of both quantity and quality.
Not to mention that both of these forms are extremely dear, financially and environmentally. It is hoped that this new environmental policy will popularise the use of wind and solar energy and help curb environmental degradation.