Renewable Power Pathways: Modelling the Integration of Wind and Solar in India by 2030

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This report has been prepared by Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) India, which is a research platform based at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) headquarters in New Delhi, which aims to foster the adoption of low-carbon pathways in India through intense and informed discussions between ETC members in India, key policy makers and others concerned with technology options.

The report identifies a number of strategies that are required to accommodate the growth of variable renewables and allow for the achievement of India's mid-term renewables targets. Its key findings are:

  • By 2030, India can achieve generation shares of variable renewables like wind and solar greater than 30%, and shares of total zero carbon generation including large hydro and nuclear greater than 45%
  • This can be achieved at no extra system cost, provided that a comprehensive portfolio of options is deployed in order to increase the flexibility of the power system. Absent this, India will not be able to achieve its 2030 objective of raising the generation capacity of renewables to 450 GW. It is time to shift the high-level focus of policy from the achievement of capacity targets, to the transformation of the operations and investment in the power sector required to integrate VRE. Something of the nature of a 'National Power System Flexibility Mission' is the need of the hour, otherwise, India's renewable energy ambitions may falter.
  • In the mid-term to 2030, the majority of power system flexibility will need to come from the conventional generators, in particular the coal and hydro fleet. India has a substantial coal fleet, which, by varying its output across the course of the day, can provide significant flexibility to integrate VRE. Additional supply-side flexibility comes from the dispatchable hydro fleet, i.e. those plants with reservoir, pondage, or pumped storage.
  • In the mid-term, battery storage and coal flexibility are complementary, with batteries reducing the operational stress of the coal fleet. With the cost of battery technologies falling extremely rapidly and combined VRE and battery projects delivering competitive tariffs, it would be beneficial to define targets and policy frameworks for battery storage out to 2030.
  • India's power system already benefits from the largest synchronous power grid in the world. The high level of interstate grid integration is driven by the strong presence of the federal level in India's power system value chain and policy and regulatory frameworks. The further development of this integrated grid is essential to increasing the share of variable renewables. Shifting power from areas of excess renewables production to areas of high demand, and vice versa during times of deficit renewables production, is an essential strategy to drive greater penetrations of variable renewables