Alok Kumar, Country Manager- India, DNV GL Energy

Q:  DNV GL, the world’s largest resource of independent energy experts and certification body recently opened its expanded and upgraded KEMA High-Power Laboratory (HPL), tell us more about the laboratory and what was the idea behind opening such mammoth lab?

A: KEMA was founded 90 years ago to help the Dutch utilities improve quality, safety and reliability in the grid. Through constant investment and innovation, it has evolved to meet the changing needs of the power industry worldwide with world leading testing facilities in the Netherlands, USA and Czech Republic. The extension of the KEMA HPL in Arnhem is the natural progression in this journey. It highlights DNV GL’s continuing commitment to supporting the innovation in energy industry as it strives to deliver a cleaner, more electrified world.

The high-power lab is now the first facility in the world capable of testing the emerging class of ultra-high voltage (UHV) grid components. It can test power transformers up to 800 kV and switchgear up to 1200 kV. This unique resource will help the power industry step into the super grid age with confidence.

DNV GL believes transnational and transcontinental grid interconnections are going to be the trend to provide access to energy for all. For example, The European Union has targets for 10 percent interconnection capacity by 2020, rising to 15 percent by 2030. Similarly, there is a grand plan of multi-national power transmission project in Asia. For such large distance transmission, super grids are required that enable resources to be shared in a spatial and temporal diversification due to different time zones and seasonal differences. The idea behind Our KEMA HPL is to allow the industry to test and certify the components needed to build such super grids.

Q: What role will these super grids play in increasing grid capacity and connecting remote wind and solar farms to energy consumers?

A: We all know that renewable energy sites are typically far away from consumers. They are also variable, so there needs to be much greater interconnection of national and regional grids to ensure a constant supply. All this means electricity needs to be transported in higher volumes, over longer distances and, therefore, at higher voltages. Hence, there comes the role of super grids which are large-scale electricity transport networks operating at voltages of 800 kV and above. One such example in India is the construction of the Raigarh-Pugalur 800 kilovolt (kV) ultrahigh-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission network under green energy corridor project which aims to integrate renewable energy with the main grid.

Q: DNV GL’s recently published Energy Transition Outlook 2017 predicts that electricity consumption will rise by 140% by 2050. What role will wind and solar play for countries striving to meet their Paris Agreement targets, especially in India?

A: Yes, our recently published Energy Transition Outlook 2017 predicts that electricity consumption will grow 140% by 2050, with renewables accounting for as much as 85% of global production of which 36% is Solar, 24% Onshore Wind and 12% Offshore Wind. The growth of electricity consumption is one major enabler to speed up the global decarbonisation as majority share of growth could come from renewable sources like wind and solar. This includes the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, generating energy savings and emissions reductions. DNV GL forecasts that electric vehicles will achieve cost parity with internal combustion vehicles in 2022 and, by 2033, half of new light vehicle sales globally will be electric.

For India, target of 100GW of solar and 60GW of onshore wind by 2022 has been recognised as a major driver in its policy to meet the Paris agreement target.  If this target is met, India would be set to overachieve its 2030 NDC emissions intensity target. However, the path to achieving this target will not be that easy. In last financial year, India added 5.5 GW of new wind capacity, exceeding the 4 GW annual target and added 5.5 GW of new solar capacity, 50 percent over the previous year. While it is impressive but it still fell short of its 12 GW annual solar target. But the recent falling prices for both wind and solar have made it increasingly competitive energy sources and may fuel up the growth further.

Q: Please share in detail about the new WindFarmer: Analysts wind resource assessment and analysis (software tool) tool launched in September this year. It has an ability to extend and automate its functionality through a built-in scripting interface , what’s unique about this feature ?

A: DNV GL’s WindFarmer is our trusted in-house developed software tool for designing, optimizing and analysing a wind farm. Analyst draws upon DNV GL’s 30 years’ and 200 GW experience of conducting global wind farm energy production assessments to enhance the analysis transparency, project assurance and bankability of the projects. This unparalleled experience has allowed us to refine the models to give results you can rely on, and the depth of detail that you need.

Windfarmer: Analyst comes with the added and enhanced features like powerful wind measurement processing capabilities, seamless integration with existing processes and systems, automation of repetitive tasks using scripting and ease of use and based on a validated methodology. It incorporates our internal tool wind analysis tool (WindApp) for rapid, robust and repeatable analysis of large volumes of time series measurements.

Scripting features that you mention, ensure repeatability with our powerful C# scripting. One can use a built-in scripting to automate repetitive tasks, integrate seamlessly into your own processes and tools, and extend existing functionality when bespoke models are needed. Once your WindFarmer: Analyst project is configured, it is easy to add further measurements and update your energy production estimate, saving you time and reducing potential errors. Scripting can be used to rerun all analysis steps.

Q: When we talk about software first thing that pops up in our mind is security, how secure is your new software tool and what steps has been considered to make it secure?

A: Our Windfarmer: Analyst is developed using modern software standards. It a desktop based application and data is never on the client’s network. Hence the risk is minimal. However, data security is paramount to DNV GL and we are implementing ISO 27000 series which focuses on data security. Our other business areas like Software and SUS are already accredited and Energy business area will also complete the procedures soon.

Q: What is most striking about the today’s energy world, especially renewable energy world ?

A: The most striking characteristic of the energy world today is the growth of renewable sources and its overall impact on the energy value chain. Wind and solar have turned out to be competitive and even cheaper than conventional sources in few countries like India. This is the first time that renewables, as a primary source of energy for future, is being convincingly thought and planned about and there is now little or no doubt about its financial viability. Some of the technology and system that support renewables like smart grid, super grid, energy storage, distributed generation, forecasting, energy efficiency etc would continue to be in focus in near future.

Q: Share your views on the current status of Indian solar and wind market. What type of market share does the company currently enjoy in India?

A: Solar and wind in India is a priority like never before and this was evidenced when Government in 2015 announced an ambitious goal of increasing renewable power capacity to 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2022, with 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind. In last financial year, India made a record by adding  5.5 GW of new wind capacity, exceeding the 4 GW annual target. It also surpassed the previous year’s wind capacity addition of 3.4 GW. India is now the fourth largest installer of wind power in the world, after China, the United States and Germany. India also added 5.5 GW of new solar capacity in the last financial year but fell short of its 12 GW annual target.

Both Wind and solar market in India is currently undergoing a transition after the Govt. withdrew the major incentives like generation based incentive and accelerated depreciation and moved from feed-in tariff to competitive tariff based on reverse auction model. The cost of solar and wind power has recntly hit as low as INR 2.44 and INR 2.64 respectively and this has certainly caused disruption in the market. The changed competitive environment in India now demands for more accurate and reliable energy assessment, innovation, holistic approach and good quality technical services and this is where DNV GL’s services become more relevant and best fit for the market. We are one of the top 3 service providers for energy resource assessment, one of the top 2 for measurement services and undoubtedly most preferred one when it comes to technology evaluation, root cause analysis, module qualification and any advice that require in-depth technical expertise. Our expertise spans onshore and offshore wind power, solar, conventional generation, transmission and distribution, smart grids, and sustainable energy use, as well as energy markets and regulations. We offer a holistic service that can be tailored to needs and take pride in providing ‘one stop solution’.

India continues to be one of the priority markets for DNV GL and we will continue to invest and bring-in innovative solutions for the local requirements.

(This Interview was originally published in Climate Samurai,  November-2017 issue)