Looking at the pace of development of new solar plants in India, it requires storage systems like never before. There is a difference between the peak demand of solar and its generation, said Nitya Nanda, Fellow and Area Convenor at The Energy and Resources Institute.“The solar electricity must be stored for use during peak period, which is late at night (10:00 PM to past midnight), while the energy can be harnessed in afternoon (12:00 PM to 4:00 PM),” said Nanda in workshop about sustainable energy transitions held by Singapore’s Institute of South Asian Studies and Energy Studies Institute.
However, Nanda is more concerned about the high prices of storage facilities that are due to the battery based set-up.This may increase the cost of solar electricity to INR 10 per 2.5 kV, from the current prices.As a consequence there will be competition among coal-fired power plants, as they will compete with the solar energy during the off-peak period in day, say, at Re 1.There is almost no cost in solar power operation as there is no fuel involved; the only cost is the maintenance cost.
On the other hand, coal-fired plant’s costs INR 2 and more, but is dependent on rising coal prices and also causes environmental issues. Additionally, the coal plants in India are not very flexible. They run on obsolete design to operate full time that is why we can’t turn them off during off-peak periods.
Building a flexible coal-fired power plant will take a long time that shuts and restarts as per our needs, but this is also an option that does not aligns with the Indian government’s green energy policies and environmental programmes.
India’s slow-paced industrialisation is also a hurdle in supporting the 100 GW solar electricity output, pointed Nanda.Production of un-demanded electricity and without storage is wastage.Nanda has observed incremental growth in the ambitious target set by India but raises concern about the backup of green electricity.
He suggested export of the solar electricity to neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, gas fired plants in Bangladesh have the flexibility of shutting down during off peak period and re-starting during peak demand.This will cost Bangladesh much lower than the generation of electricity from gas-fired power plants and it also faces gas shortage plus its volatile prices.
Pakistan is also facing huge shortage of electricity and is another possible market.However, implementation of such a thing is more of a political play, possible only through talks, there had been talks in regard of this to Pakistan before.