Register today for the final installment of the semester of Energy Systems Engineering Spring 2023 Seminar Series: The Janak Raj Lectures.

"The Energy Transition in India"

Presented by: Stephen Storm & Michael Caravaggio, of EPRI


TIME: 12:00 PM Eastern Time 
LOCATION - ZOOM MEETING link to be sent prior to the seminar date



India’s Commitment:

India intends to bring its non-fossil (VRE – Variable Renewable Energy to 500 GW by 2030

India will bring its economy's carbon intensity down to 45 per cent by 2030

India will fulfil 50 per cent of its energy requirement through renewable energy by 2030

Achieving Net zero Emission by 2070

The Challenge

With cost-effective energy storage a long way off and without any national option for peaking gas plants, coal plants are the only real option for India to maintain the dispatchable capacity to meet demand. But, as the country also slows new coal build, there is an increased reliance on older subcritical plants, burning low-grade, high-ash coals. The current minimum technical load for Indian coal plants is 55%. But the Government of India is proposing to force this down to 40% before the end of 2022. At the same time, two-shifting (starting up and shutting down within a 24-hour period) will also be expected. This adds significant strain to plants designed to burn at baseload and this will inevitably lead to increased damage and lower efficiency of the coal fleet.

Since the demand for flexibility at Indian plants is increasing significantly, system operators must increase their skill set for dealing with variability, uncertainty, load frequency control, scheduling reserves, managing the transmission network, ancillary services, and cost. Flexible conventional steam generators play a key role in ensuring grid stability. This is vital in India where the country is working fast to ensure the delivery of reliable and affordable power to the entire population, many of whom are not yet on the grid.

This presentation will focus on three (3) key challenge areas that Indian coal plants to consider if they are to achieve their fleet flexibility goals: plant reliability, emissions, and cost:

Plant Reliability:  As units continue to age, reliability is jeopardized by the thermal variations associated with cyclic conditions. These conditions may need further assessment and monitoring to help mitigate costly equipment damage and promote safe, efficient, and event-free operations without depleting the plant’s operating and maintenance budgets.

Generators must manage operations with lower capacity factors. They must also be able to meet dispatch demands and meet ramp rates safely and efficiently that balance both the grid and operating budgets.

The application of best practices in operation and maintenance is essential to achieve flexibility with the appropriate control, procedures, efficiency and dispatchability.

Emissions:  Growth of VRE is ideal for the environment but increases the flexibility demand on conventional units.

More stringent air pollution control regulations and operating loads can result in lower thermal efficiencies and thus higher emissions. If units become less reliable, this can increase blackouts, decrease overall fleet efficiency, and risk derogation from air pollution regulations. Thus, strategies for emissions reduction MUST consider flexibility and cost. Forward-thinking strategies must be adopted to improve efficiency and emissions simultaneously.

Cost:  Indian power plants operate with constrained budgets due to higher fixed costs with lower generation demand.

Investment in performance upgrades and emissions retrofits may be required to meet the new demands for flexible operation.  To achieve flexibility, market changes may be needed to ensure revenue for plants operating in support of the system. Additional market mechanisms such as capacity payments and ancillary services arrangements may help the market adapt to ensure sufficient capacity is always available to stabilize the grid.

Optimizing efficiency, deploying defense strategies, and applying fuel flexibility will be critical if the energy market does not incentivize flexibility and capacity.

The challenges of flexible operations are even greater for units which are in geographically unfavorable locations for the supply of coal.

Cost-effective plant operation requires investment in plant maintenance. Good practice can improve plant output while minimizing or even avoiding repair costs. Preventative maintenance designed for the challenge of new flexible operation must be built into standard practice across the Indian fleet.


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