Government panel: Pay thermal power plants to make generation flexible

In a move that could be seen as a good news for the renewable energy market suffering due to non-flexibility of conventional stations, a government-appointed panel has recommended that coal-fired power plants be given incentives to raise or reduce generation of power at a short notice, the Economic Times reported on Friday.
This is being done to accommodate renewable power and that supply from sources such as solar and wind may need to be cut 1% to balance the grid. The problem here is that renewable sources such as wind and solar vary heavily during the course of a day which makes the grid unstable and power from thermal stations is required at the last moment to keep the grid stable.
This can only be done with specialised equipment installed at conventional stations which can help the grid adapt to quick changes in the power supply mix. The committee report said that reducing or raising thermal supply is a time consuming process which is also expensive and hence, additional investment is required to make these plants flexible.
In its terms of reference, the committee was tasked with forecasting future power generation scenario and estimating extent of flexibility required in the system on account of demand as well as variation in renewable energy supply.
The panel has also recommended a tariff system which is likely to help thermal power plants meet the expenses of installing new equipment to fulfill the mandate of power generation flexibility.
The newspaper reported that panel foresees a cut in capacity utilisation of thermal plants by 25% to accommodate renewable power, which may be unviable. Hence, a curtailment of renewable energy by 1% on an annual basis is recommended.


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