Round-the-clock power supply: Discoms can now bundle thermal, solar power for 24X7 distribution

New Delhi: Solar and thermal power can be bundled by bidders to provide 24×7 electricity to distribution companies, according to new official guidelines issued to scale up renewable energy without hurting the grid with intermittent supply.

Power generators have to ensure at least 85% availability both annually and during peak hours, said the guidelines issued by the ministry of power for procurement of round-the-clock power from grid-connected projects. Bidders will have to supply at least 51% of the power from renewable sources, which may include supply using storage.

The scheme is the first of its kind in the world where both fossil fuel-based power and clean energy will complement each other to make up a viable system that provides consistent power to the grid. Several experts had raised concerns that India’s ambitious renewable energy programme posed a threat to the grid because of abrupt rise and fall in generation from wind and sun.

The power industry had earlier raised concerns about a round-the-clock project being fully spearheaded by only renewable energy supply, saying that intermittent power generated through renewable energy projects can result in grid safety issues. The earlier draft of the notice called for generators to maintain an 80% availability annually.

Failing this or the 85% supply requirement, the bidder will have to pay a penalty equivalent to 25% of the shortfall in energy terms, calculated at the maximum composite tariff payable during the year.

The bidders must also quote a single composite tariff for the RTC projects at the delivery point. Successful bidders would be selected through a transparent bidding process for the bundled energy, the ministry of power said.

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The minimum capacity for which bids will be issued is 250 MW, in order to fulfil economies of scale. However, bidders can club smaller thermal projects to tie-up with their renewable projects. The RE component can include solar and non-solar sources such as wind, hydro, or any combination of the same, and bidders do not necessarily have to use a storage system for their projects, the notice said.

The notice also states that the power purchase agreement must be of 25 years or more from the date when the supply begins.

This scheme would also help states fulfil their renewable purchase obligation, it said.



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