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Home » Industry Analysis » Techno innovations, policy initiatives propel RE-adoption  

Techno innovations, policy initiatives propel RE-adoption  

March 27, 2024 12:01 pm

Techno innovations, policy initiatives propel RE-adoption  
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Innovations like high-wattage solar modules and smart grid technologies further propel sustainability in the power sector, offering promising avenues for a cleaner energy landscape.

The implementation of advanced technologies has bolstered the integration of renewable energy sources. A technology like advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) delivers real-time energy consumption and generation data, enhancing grid management and facilitating seamless integration of renewables like solar power. These advancements bolster feasibility and scalability of renewable energy in the power sector, fostering a more sustainable and resilient energy future. 

The government initiatives, such as the Green Energy Open Access and General Network Access rules, are pivotal in incentivising green energy adoption among commercial consumers and interstate projects. Innovations like high-wattage solar modules and smart grid technologies further propel sustainability in the power sector, offering promising avenues for a cleaner energy landscape.

The industry experts analyse the trends in the renewable sector in the realm of energy transition with EPR Magazine. What is their perspective?

Recent tech advancements integrating renewable energy

In recent years, the industry has witnessed technological advancements and innovations that have catalysed the integration and adoption of renewable energy on a larger scale. This has led to the adoption of renewable sources both on the industry and household levels, further leading to the shift from conventional energy sources to clean energy adoption. 

Capt Ishver Dholakiya, MD and Founder, Goldi Solar: “Recent technological advancements, such as improved solar cells and wind turbine efficiency, advanced energy storage solutions like lithium-ion batteries, and implementation of smart grid technologies, have significantly enhanced  feasibility and scalability of integrating renewable energy into the electrical power segment. These innovations mitigate intermittency issues, improve grid efficiency and enable better monitoring and management of renewable sources. In India, these advancements offer profound benefits, including enhanced energy security, reduced reliance on fossil fuels, improved air quality, creation of green jobs, and rural development.

”Falling costs make renewables more affordable, while advancements in energy storage and smart grids bolster grid stability. India’s commitment to these technologies positions it as a global leader in sustainable energy, fostering a more resilient and environment-friendly energy future.”

Manikkan S, Executive Director and CEO, Radiance Renewables:  “Implementing trackers enhances solar panel efficiency by following the sun’s path. At the same time, robotic cleaning reduces water usage and boosts generation. Co-locating wind and solar projects optimises infrastructure usage, increasing renewable energy (RE) mix and integrating storage like BESS and PSH smooths peak demands. Reactive power management maintains the power factor near unity, improving overall system efficiency and stability. 

“A great deal of effort is being put into improving forecasting and scheduling renewable energy to support grid stability given the implementation of Deviation Settlement Mechanism (DSM) in most states. Intermittency issues are also addressed instantly by integrating BESS solutions.”

Chandresh Jain, CEO, Bask Energy: “Various strategies are being developed to mitigate intermittency challenges of renewable energy sources. Energy storage technologies, such as lithium-ion and flow batteries, are pivotal in storing surplus renewable energy for later use during periods of low generation, ensuring a steady power supply. Hydrogen production through electrolysis offers another avenue for storing excess renewable energy, with hydrogen serving as a clean fuel for diverse applications, including power generation and transportation. “Advancements in grid integration, including smart grids and microgrids, facilitate seamless incorporation of renewable resources by enabling dynamic energy flow and distribution management. These solutions collectively enhance reliability and stability of renewable energy systems, paving the way for a sustainable and resilient energy future.” 

Kannan Krishnan, Jt. MD, Jakson Green: “Technological advancements in the solar industry have substantially bolstered feasibility and scalability of integrating renewable energy. Notably, the emergence of solar modules yielding 600 Wp and above, paired with larger inverters ranging from 3.3 mw to 4.125 mw, has marked a considerable efficiency improvement, catalysing a transformative shift in energy production dynamics. These innovations drive cost reduction, enhance grid stability, and expedite transition towards sustainable energy solutions.”

Policies and incentives driving investments

The Government is doing a tremendous job of framing progressive policies and incentives for the renewable sector. This has helped boost the industry as a whole, which has ultimately helped consumers as well as presumers.  

Chandresh Jain opines that policies and incentives are critical in driving investment in renewable energy adoption. One effective policy is the establishment of Renewable Energy Targets, where governments set specific goals to increase the share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix. These targets provide long-term certainty for investors and encourage investment in renewable energy projects. Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) are another essential incentive. 

He adds, “FITs guarantee a fixed price for renewable energy generation, ensuring a stable revenue stream for investors and incentivising investment in renewable energy projects. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) offer a market-based mechanism to incentivise renewable energy production. These certificates certify renewable attributes of energy generated from renewable sources, creating a market for renewable energy attributes and encouraging investment in renewable energy projects.”

Manikkan S further comments that Government policies, such as the roll-out of the Green Energy Open Access rules across multiple states, are boosting significant adoption of green energy through open access for commercial and industrial customers with a minimum of 100 kva. A demand (the de-minimis eligibility criteria earlier was 1 mva contract demand). 

He adds, “Implementing General Network Access (GNA) rules for CTU-connected projects has given a fillip to the green energy supply of the Interstate transmission system (ISTS). Further, the progressively declining waiver of transmission charges for projects commissioned before June 2025 and up to June 2028 will accelerate large ISTS-based CTU projects while also providing bulk consumers in Eastern India with poor renewable resources to benefit from the supply of power at competitive tariffs from projects located in resource-rich states using ISTS. 

“The launch of the Green Hydrogen mission is spurring the demand for green power for hydrogen production, and any hydrogen purchase obligations will increase demand for the same. The monthly banking rules for renewable power in various states are also positive for intra-state projects. The Government’s latest subsidy programme for rooftop projects spurs the growth of residential solar capacity.” 

Capt Ishver Dholakiya further shares that the drive towards renewable energy adoption is propelled by a suite of policies and incentives to foster investment in the sector. “Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs) mandate electricity distributors to procure a portion of their power from renewable sources, yet enforcement disparities persist among states. Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) have jumpstarted renewable energy, particularly for wind and solar, though they are being supplanted by competitive bidding. “Accelerated depreciation and tax incentives, including holidays and concessional duties, have lured investments, especially in early stages. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) enable producers to recoup costs but grapple with oversupply and regulatory uncertainties. The National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy promotes hybrid projects to mitigate intermittency, anticipating substantial investments. The Viability Gap Funding (VGF) aids large-scale projects by bridging financial shortfalls. Despite progress, challenges endure, necessitating ongoing reforms and innovation to realise ambitious renewable energy goals and advance towards sustainability.” 

Kannan Krishnan believes that the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) mandate compels Discoms to procure a portion of their energy from renewable sources, thereby initiating a ripple effect that propels the entire industry towards greener practices. Additionally, the Priority Sector Lending initiative introduced by the Reserve Bank of India is pivotal in aligning financial institutions with this green transition, encouraging them to allocate funds towards renewable energy projects. This initiative acts as a catalyst, motivating financial entities to invest in initiatives that support a more sustainable future. 

“The introduction of the Universal Renewable Energy Tariff (Uret) by MNRE allows Discoms to capitalise on the declining costs of renewable energy, rendering renewable power more appealing and accessible. These collective measures ensure a bolstered demand, financial support, and requisite infrastructure for renewable projects, effectively expediting the transition to sustainable energy and nurturing a robust ecosystem for renewable energy adoption.”

Environmental footprint of RE infrastructure

Renewable energy (RE) infrastructure significantly reduces fossil fuels’ environmental footprint, emitting fewer greenhouse gasses and minimising pollution. Harnessing solar, wind, hydro and other renewable sources promotes sustainability, mitigating climate change impacts and preserving ecosystems. This transition fosters a greener, cleaner energy future.

Manikkan S shares, “As we scale up renewable energy generating capabilities to meet the nation’s net-zero targets, we must know how these systems interact with the natural environment. Prima facie clean energy is considered better for the environment than conventional fuel-based resources, resulting in less air and water pollution than combustible fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum oil. Despite these benefits, clean energy technologies can have environmental consequences before, during and after their useful lifespans. For example, GHG emissions caused during disposal of broken or end-of-life solar PV modules, damage caused to critical floral or fauna habitat during project development and operation, disruption caused to bird movement and migration. 

“To ensure sustainability of renewable energy infrastructure projects, effective mitigating measures include minimising damage to biodiversity by siting projects away from eco-sensitive areas, conducting thorough environmental and social impact assessments, and conducting specialised studies at the project’s inception to evaluate and address potential impacts.” 

Kannan Krishnan comments, “Renewable energy projects must have as little environmental impact as possible. Some significant strides include implementing measures like e-waste management for solar modules, which involves recycling and adopting dry-cleaning systems for module maintenance to minimise water usage. 

“Introducing higher wattage modules has effectively reduced land footprint, enhancing land use efficiency. The sector demonstrates its commitment to sustainability through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities engaging nearby communities and enforcing adherence to international standards for health, safety, and environmental protection for labour forces.”

Capt Ishver Dholakiya says that minimising the environmental footprint of renewable energy infrastructure is vital for sustainability. Efforts include Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to guide improvement, sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, and responsible siting to minimise ecosystem impacts. “

Waste management and recycling, water conservation, and habitat restoration further reduce environmental harm. Supply chain sustainability and ongoing research foster eco-friendly practices and innovation. Combining these strategies ensures that renewable energy development progresses responsibly, mitigating environmental damage and advancing towards a more sustainable future.”

Chandresh Jain shares his thoughts by saying that sustainable siting practices involve careful consideration of sensitive habitats, ecosystems, and landscapes. Lifecycle assessment evaluates environmental impacts from manufacturing to decommissioning, identifying areas for improvement. Resource efficiency reduces waste generation and optimises resource use through advanced manufacturing and smart grid integration. 

“The ongoing R&D enhances efficiency, durability and environmental performance, embracing circular economy principles for material reuse. Policy support is crucial, with governments incentivising sustainability through mandates, carbon pricing, and tax incentives. Aligning incentives with environmental goals accelerates transition to a sustainable energy future. 

“Recent technological strides and collaboration between government and private individuals have boosted the country’s adoption of renewable energy. This adoption is necessary for energy security and reducing the country’s carbon footprint.” 

Quotes:

Capt Ishver Dholakiya, MD and Founder, Goldi Solar

The recent technological advancements, such as improved solar cells and wind turbine efficiency, advanced energy storage solutions like lithium-ion batteries, and implementation of smart grid technologies, have significantly enhanced feasibility and scalability of integrating renewable energy into the electrical power segment.”

Chandresh Jain, CEO, Bask Energy

“Advancements in grid integration, including smart grids and microgrids, facilitate the seamless incorporation of renewable resources by enabling dynamic energy flow and distribution management. These solutions collectively enhance reliability and stability of renewable energy systems, paving the way for a sustainable and resilient energy future.”

Manikkan S, Executive Director and CEO, Radiance Renewables

“The progressively declining waiver of transmission charges for projects commissioned before June 2025 and up to June 2028 will accelerate large ISTS-based CTU projects while also providing bulk consumers in Eastern India with poor renewable resources to benefit from the supply of power at competitive tariffs from projects located in resource-rich states using ISTS.”

Kannan Krishnan, Jt. MD, Jakson Green

“Renewable energy projects need to have as little environmental impact as possible. Some significant strides include implementing measures like e-waste management for solar modules, which involves recycling and adopting dry cleaning systems for module maintenance to minimise water usage.”

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