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India is progressing towards a unified electricity market with grid resilience innovations

November 25, 2023 11:35 am

India is progressing towards a unified electricity market with grid resilience innovations

The country has the potential for renewable integration, moving ahead to a sustainable energy future.

Our reliance on electricity is paramount in this era, emphasising the need to fortify our transmission distribution systems. Utilising cutting-edge technology enables us to swiftly identify faults, reducing downtime and alleviating the burden on adjacent lines, subsequently curbing losses. The vision of ‘One Nation, One Grid, One Price’ necessitates bolstering interregional transfer capabilities, reinforcing our network, and seamlessly integrating renewable energy. By optimising scattered resources, we contribute to national betterment. It is imperative to recognise that realising this dream requires collective efforts, no matter how modest, to transform it from an aspiration into a tangible reality.

Accessible power trading across regions 

In India, accessible power trading across regions is essential for achieving a robust and efficient electricity market. The integration of regional power grids facilitates the seamless exchange of electricity between different states, optimising resource utilisation and ensuring a reliable power supply. Establishing a national power market enables buyers and sellers to engage in transparent transactions, promoting competition and reducing costs. This interconnectedness also enhances grid stability and resilience by enabling surplus power in one region to offset deficits in another. However, challenges such as varying regulatory frameworks and transmission constraints must be addressed to realise the potential of cross-regional power trading fully. Policymakers should focus on standardising regulations, upgrading transmission infrastructure, and fostering cooperation among states to create a truly accessible and efficient power trading ecosystem across India.

Satyajit Ganguly, MD and CEO of Power Exchange India Limited, says, “Trading in our country has evolved remarkably, with three power exchanges offering products like day-ahead, term-ahead, and options. Introducing longer 10-year products reflects significant progress, enabling trading up to 11 months. Long-term power purchase agreements dominate, but efforts are underway for more short-term trading. Overall, short- and long-term trading presents substantial opportunities, with ongoing initiatives expected to address existing constraints.”

Rajesh Arora, Senior Manager, Delhi Transco, says, “Despite possessing abundant renewable resources, the effective integration of these resources remains a challenge. India can overcome these hurdles by leveraging available technology and progressively improving inter-regional transfer capabilities. This will pave the way for realising the vision of a uniform pricing policy and tariff structure across the nation, fostering sustainable growth.”

Ganguly says further on power trading, “The 2021 Power Market Regulations are noteworthy, emphasising market coupling. This mechanism amalgamates bids from all zones, promoting social welfare maximisation by establishing a uniform pricing system. Market coupling offers advantages such as enhanced economic surplus, improved transmission capacity allocation, and a robust price benchmark for derivatives.”

Unified Power Distribution Network

A unified power distribution network represents a modern and integrated approach to electrical power distribution systems. It leverages advanced technologies, such as smart grids, to enhance energy distribution efficiency, reliability, and sustainability. It seamlessly integrates various energy sources, including renewable energy systems, and employs intelligent monitoring and control mechanisms. This interconnected network enables real-time data analysis, optimising power flow and minimising losses. By incorporating smart devices and automation, power distribution responds dynamically to fluctuations in demand and supply, ensuring a balanced and resilient power distribution. This holistic approach not only improves the overall performance of the electrical grid but also promotes the integration of clean energy sources, contributing to a more sustainable and future-ready power infrastructure.

Rajesh said, “The key challenge hindering India’s growth is the stark disparity in resource distribution among regions, causing imbalances in power supply and demand. The inability to efficiently transfer surplus power from resource-rich areas to those in need creates a significant obstacle. Addressing this issue requires a focus on enhancing inter-regional transfer capabilities.” 

Further discussing the issue, Kumud Wadhwa, Chief General Manager, NSGM-PMU, says, “Integrating a significant share of renewable energy into the grid poses technical and economic challenges due to its intermittent nature. The unpredictability of renewable energy requires a delicate balance between supply and demand to maintain the grid frequency at around 50 Hertz within acceptable limits. Promoting flexibility in grid services is crucial to address these challenges.”

Resilience of power grids against cyber threats

With the increasing digitisation and interconnectedness of power systems, the vulnerability to cyber threats has risen significantly. Sophisticated hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in control systems, potentially disrupting the stability and functionality of the entire grid. To counteract this, power grid operators employ robust cybersecurity measures, including firewalls, encryption, and continuous monitoring to detect and mitigate potential threats. Simultaneously, the physical resilience of power grids is crucial to withstand deliberate attacks or natural disasters. Infrastructure hardening, redundancy in critical components, and strategic placement of backup systems contribute to the grid’s ability to bounce back swiftly from physical assaults. The integration of advanced technologies, constant vigilance, and collaborative efforts between governments and private entities are essential components in fortifying the resilience of power grids against evolving threats.

Sunil Raval, head of diagnostic, protection, and SCADA systems at Adani Energy Solutions says, “In the current power system landscape, cybersecurity is paramount, especially during commissioning. Integration of communication systems, with a nod to SCADA, involves a meticulous cybersecurity checklist. The evolving technological landscape ensures continuous improvement, with layers of cybersecurity managed through tools like firewalls and DMC layers. Station-wise deployment further mitigates potential threats, affirming a proactive stance against cybersecurity concerns.”

Reduction of transmission losses for energy efficiency 

As electricity travels through transmission lines, a portion of it is inevitably lost in the form of heat due to resistance in the conductors. Technological advancements such as high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission and superconducting materials have been instrumental in addressing this. HVDC systems minimise resistive losses over long distances, offering a more efficient alternative to traditional alternating current (AC) transmission. Superconducting materials exhibit zero electrical resistance at low temperatures and hold promise for further loss reduction. Additionally, smart grid technologies enable real-time monitoring and control, optimising the flow of electricity and minimising losses. By investing in these innovations, India’s energy sector can significantly decrease transmission losses, resulting in a more sustainable and efficient power infrastructure, ultimately contributing to a unified grid system.

Kumud says, “In large-scale power transmission over long distances, the strategy involves elevating voltage levels, progressing from 132 KV to 765 KV, as higher voltages correlate with lower losses. However, a practical limit is dictated by the cost of insulating end devices like transformers and switchgear.”

She further says, “The predominant challenge lies in distribution networks, where losses are higher. The emphasis is on leveraging advanced technologies such as smart meters for real-time energy audits, pinpointing areas of high losses, and enhancing revenue realisation through prepaid models.”

Sunil shares his views: WL system, employing travelling wave technology, instantly pinpoints fault locations. Optical fibre-based tech also identifies faults geographically. Automated alerts via SMS or email empower the line team to respond swiftly, reducing power system restoration time. This tech-driven approach enhances efficiency and enables proactive issue resolution, even during midnight occurrences.”

Role of renewable energy

As the country grapples with a rapidly growing population and increasing energy demand, integrating renewable sources such as solar and wind power is essential for maintaining grid stability. However, the intermittent nature of renewable energy poses challenges to grid management. To address this, advanced grid management technologies and energy storage solutions are being deployed to ensure a consistent power supply.

Renewable energy contributes to a more uniform grid by diversifying the energy mix, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and minimising the impact of power fluctuations. Additionally, decentralising energy production through distributed renewable sources enhances grid resilience and minimises transmission losses. The transition to renewable energy sources also aligns with India’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change.

Furthermore, adopting renewable energy promotes uniform pricing by mitigating the volatility associated with fossil fuel markets. As the cost of renewable technologies continues to decrease, the long-term benefits of clean energy become increasingly evident, resulting in more stable and predictable electricity prices. This ensures affordability for consumers and attracts investments in the renewable sector, fostering sustainable economic growth. In conclusion, integrating renewable energy is crucial in achieving a uniform grid and pricing structure in India, offering a sustainable path toward meeting the country’s growing energy needs.

Kumud said, “Integrating such a significant share of renewable energy into the grid poses technical and economic challenges due to its intermittent nature. The unpredictability of renewable energy requires a delicate balance between supply and demand to maintain the grid frequency at around 50 Hertz within acceptable limits. India’s unique deviation settlement mechanism penalises states deviating from schedules on a day-ahead basis, indirectly influencing demand and supply balance. For renewable-rich states facing unpredictability, recent regulatory changes reducing gate closure times provide better predictability, helping manage economic and technical challenges more efficiently.”

Rajesh affirmed by saying, “We have various renewable resources right now. However, integration of these resources is necessary. It will increase the internal transfer capability if we can mitigate these challenges with the available technology. And I am sure we will be able to fulfil our dream of a uniform pricing policy across India.” 

QUOTES:

Mr. Satyajit Ganguly, MD & CEO of Power Exchange India Limited (PXIL):  
“Short- and long-term trading presents substantial opportunities, addressing constraints and fostering national progress.”

Dr. Rajesh Arora, Senior Manager (Technical), at Delhi Transco Ltd :
“Efficient integration of renewable resources is crucial, mitigating challenges for sustainable growth and stability.”

Mr. Sunil Raval, Head- Diagnostic, Protection and SCADA system – at Adani Energy Solutions :
“In the current power system landscape, cybersecurity is paramount, affirming a proactive stance.”

Ms. Kumud Wadhwa, Chief General Manager – at National Smart Grid Mission at POWERGRID. :
“Integrating renewable energy poses challenges; recent regulatory changes enhance predictability, managing economic and technical challenges efficiently.”

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