-The following article is authored by Dr Jasmine Kaur Saini, Lecturer, Electrical Engineering Department, National Institute of Technology (NIT) Hamirpur, H.P.
The development of renewable energy sources and associated technologies have shown an accelerated global rise in the past few decades. The employment of RES-based technologies is being given a nudge by governments across developing nations worldwide. Efforts have been made for the promotion of renewable technology, and this includes improvising the efficient usage of energy and also establishing the conservation plans. The intermittent nature of RES is covered by using conventional sources along with the renewable ones. Also, the combination of RES with conventional sources to the isolated loads which are far off from the main grid will ensure a continuous, regular supply. A hybrid-system comprises of various generating sources, it holds the potential to finish the need for fossil fuels and thus, encourages energy sustainability. RES prove to be the most effective when it comes to providing high-quality electricity to various remote locations. The role of an efficient energy management system comes into the picture whenever more than one source is required to supply loads. Minimising the cost to energy production is another major area to be explored, protecting components from damage due to overloading and hence increasing the stability of the power system. The control of energy flow is a major role in energy management strategy.
Microgrid Deployments in India
Microgrids in India are deployed to fill in for an unreliable utility grid. They reach new off-grid customers, save money, and reduce carbon emissions. People who could afford it have long used diesel generators to back up the utility grid, but are increasingly moving to microgrid options consisting of solar photovoltaic and energy storage. India’s aggressive electric-vehicle targets should also contribute to the increasing number of microgrid growth as homes, campuses, and companies seek to ensure adequate electric supply to meet surging demand. The Indian Government is offering to utilise EV-batteries as a grid resource to meet national renewable targets. The SELCO Foundation in Karnataka has deployed a number of solar-storage remote microgrids to provide energy access in Baikampady Mangalore, Neelakantarayanagaddi Village, Mendare Village, and Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya. Each of these is DC microgrids. There is another operational microgrid operated by the Indian Coast Guard. It is located in Andaman Island. Another one is located at Chief Ministers Official Residence in Bihar India, with a 125-kW solar microgrid. Dharnai village has a microgrid. Greenpeace has gone beyond activism to solar microgrid deployment.
The rapidly emerging Indian microgrid market has multiple factors to its credit. This includes ambitious government programs and chronically unreliable main utility grids aimed at adopting green energy and improving energy access – particularly for rural Indians. A country-by-country assessment of investing in green energy, according to a report by Climatescope, shows that India ranks second on the track to become third-largest solar power succeeding China and the US.
According to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, rooftop solar alone shows a USD 23 billion investment opportunity in India. India leads in the world’s largest auction for renewable energy. It has recently embarked on major incentives for renewable energy development. The overall comparison of the Indian subcontinent’s actual data and the progress required for meeting the RES targets is as shown in Fig.1.
India is leading in solar for developing countries. As of mid-2018, India scaled up its renewable energy goals. Over the next four years, with 40 GW of the goal which represents rooftop solar. With the price of rooftop solar has dropped, the cost of power has risen by about more than 20 per cent. It would lead to strong growth in the rooftop photovoltaic market. However, homeowners still lack financing options. India is a major driving force for renewable energy sources amongst developing countries.
It has created the International Solar Alliance. It is the international headquarters for this treaty-based intergovernmental organisation. It now includes over 120 nations. Membership in the USA is limited to the countries which receive a lot of sunshine. i.e. those clustered around the equator which collaborates to advance renewable energy sources through solar-friendly policies.
Energy Access Programs: India
India has a lot of major programs in place to reduce energy poverty. Millions of people still lack access to electricity. Most of them are connected users who do not have a reliable supply. The major energy access programs in India is ‘24×7 Power to All’. An intensive effort to improve energy access to individual households is being done. The SAUBHAGYA (Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana), which is a USD 4.4 billion project. It was launched in 2017, it is now delivering low-cost or free home solar kits to many households. Till the year 2018, a number of Indian states have achieved 100 per cent electrification. The number is doubled as compared to the previous year, and we give most of the newly electrified region’s credit to the SAUBHAGYA program, for their energy access improvements.
India has its village electrification program. It is called Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGY). The objective of this was to launch improvements to the existing electric grid. So far, thousands of villages have been electrified, few are remaining before the final goal is reached. ‘Electrification’ is defined as energy access for only 10 per cent of the houses in each village. The government has decided to move away from that definition. It has shifted its goal to provide electricity for every individual household. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a lot of families served by solar systems are moving on to relatively larger devices.
Managing Energy with Microgrids
The accessibility to the grid is now open to many Indian homes as well as villages. They do not have access to electricity. Most families cannot afford to pay for power, while to others, electricity via the main grid is limited to only a few hours a day. The microgrids are a befitting solution to this long-pending issue. It is the best suitable for remote areas where no access to grids is available. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) India, in 2016, had planned to install around 10,00 microgrids with a cumulative capacity of 500 MW by 2021. Microgrids are defined as green energy-based distributed generation, primarily under 10 kW.
Microgrids may operate on a stand-alone basis or grid-connected to the utility grid. Mini-grids have the same functionality but large capacity, of over 10 kW. Both Microgrids, as well as mini-grids, play an important and cost-effective, alternative to the extension of the main utility grid. Hybrid green microgrids are meant to provide energy access in a cheap manner as compared to transmission, owing to the low prices of solar and batteries. The microgrids could be scaled-up by community owners whenever it is necessary. More reliable power could be produced at a better quality. Grid expansion creates power losses where transmission and distribution distances are increased. Microgrids do conform to the new Indian regulations which mandate a good number of renewables in the country’s energy system, where they deliver more reliable power, that too at a much rapid rate than the government’s main grid extension program. If equipped with smart meters, microgrids have the ability to provide better monitoring of energy theft. Microgrids provide vital services to the main grid. While users connect to microgrids, it can be insulated from power outages, the mini-grids or microgrids that are connected to the main grid do have the potential to support it. Microgrids could thus, single-handedly, solve energy management issues like electricity transmission over remote areas, reduced dependence on fossil fuels and promote optimal utilisation of the available renewable energy sources.