India Targets Gas-Renewable Energy Mix For Low-Carbon Power

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The Indian Government is looking to use gas-based power generation assets alongside renewable energy capacity to expand low-carbon power infrastructure.

India’s Minister for Power, Coal, and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal, recently stated that his government is working hard to significantly increase utilisation of gas-based power plants that have been either laying idle or operating at very low plant load factor for several years to fill the gaps left in power supply by renewable energy assets.

Goyal stated that renewable energy projects are not suitable to meet the peak load and thus gas-based power plants would have to be put into action. To increase generation at existing power plants the government recently auctioned gas supply contracts, and has also implemented a gas pooling mechanism wherein power plants are supplied domestic and imported gas to reduced the overall fuel price.

The Government is also taking measures to reduce the cost of electricity from renewable energy assets. Goyal recently announced that charges levied on inter-state transmission of electricity from renewable energy projects shall soon be removed. India is working on a dedicated power grid for renewable energy projects which would supply power across states.

To further reduce the cost of electricity, the Indian Government will also hold competitive auctions for renewable energy projects based on technologies other than solar power, as the central government and several state governments have already auctioned off several gigawatts of solar power capacity. Early next year, the government will auction offshore wind energy sites for the first time. 

India aims to have an operational solar power capacity of 100 GW and wind energy capacity of 60 GW by 2022 in addition to 15 GW of other renewable energy technologies. In its recently submitted pledge to the United Nations, India stated a target of 250 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030 and reduction of emissions intensity by 40%.

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5 thoughts on “India Targets Gas-Renewable Energy Mix For Low-Carbon Power

  • Germany has the same problem – too much inflexible coal generation in the mix, while gas plants lie idle. German gas is from Russia, so there is a political reason to limit dependence on it which doesn’t apply to India.

    A dedicated grid for renewables?? Surely not.

    • Brown coal and nuclear are totally inflexible, if you look at todays electricity supply in Germany, but surprisingly hard coal does nearly all flexible supply shifting, with gas only filling the rest. Gas is more expensive than hard coal for electricity generation in Germany. So after the shutdown of the nuclear plants, the brown coal plants will have to go next. They are cheap (without externalites of course) but heavy polluting and inflexible while hard coal is a little bit more expensive but less polluting and surprisingly flexible.

    • “A dedicated grid for renewables?? Surely not.”

      Yeah, that sounded strange to me too. Electrons are electrons; the wires don’t care how they were set in motion.

  • Developed countries (or maybe we should just call them rich countries, since that seems more honest) generally have all the generating capacity they need to meet peak demand and so can add renewable capacity and use it to forgo fossil fuel use. Since it is currently not a rich nation, India doesn’t have as much stuff as rich countries and that stuff includes peak generating capacity, so India is going to be looking to build more of that. And gas is about the cheapest form of on demand peak generating capacity and so, particularly given the now low cost of wind and solar and its expanding capacity, it’s what I would expect them to do.

    Over time renewables will lead to the closure of coal plants, as we can see happening in South Australia where the last remaining coal power station will shut down in March. India is not near that point yet, but may not take that long to get there. South Australia went from almost no wind or solar capacity to generating electricity equal to about 40 of the state’s consumption within a decade, and the cost of wind and solar power are considerably lower now .

    One relatively cheap option India has is to expand generating capacity at existing hydroelectric dams so they can take on more of a peak generation role, rather than operating in a baseload or load following manner as they do now. I would expect any new dams under construction to be built with higher generating capacity and to operate at lower capacity factors, since they’ll be saving water for when it is most needed instead of generating electricity most of the time.

  • Vast potential of wind and solar energy in India must be tapped to reduce dependence on coal and the toll it takes of the environment and transport infrastructure.Together with gas ,storage on a large scale must be kept in sight for planing the power infrastructure of India.
    Land is a difficult resource to acquire in India .the grid is not very efficient,remote villages and towns need power most. Any plan for the future must keep this fact in mind and not go merely by the approach adopted by the rich countries turning to renewables.

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