Virtual Solar Power Plants in India

The steadily increasing distributed generation (especially in the form of rooftop) is bringing in a different set of challenges that need to be addressed.

In terms of distribution, there are limits on the total amount of electricity that can be injected in the grid at one-point owing to the transformer capacity at that location.

Other grid related issues such as effect on voltage control, quality of power, grid protection issues, forecasting and scheduling issues are other factors that have to be taken care of.

Today, even at a minuscule penetration of rooftop in the grid (~0.15% of the total power consumption) in various states, Discoms are facing problem in handling the generation.This makes VPP a highly relevant solution in the Indian context. Government has also taken up several initiatives with the vision of upgrading the current electricity grid to future-ready smart grids.

From the formation of the Indian Smart Grid Forum (ISGF) and Indian Smart Grid Task Force (ISGTF) to unveiling National Smart Grid Mission and pilot project implementations, India is paving way for a phenomenal transformation.

These initiatives aiming to bring automation in the grid can form the base for deploying the VPP solutions in India. Following is a brief review of Indian policies and regulations that can potentially affect the development of VPPs in India.

  • Forum of Regulators: Sub-Group Report on Introduction of Five-Minute Scheduling, Metering, Accounting and Settlement in Indian Electricity Market (February 2018)- The identified imperatives and recommendations given by FoR in the report are in line with the objectives of a VPP. VPPs in India can prove to be a supporting system for implementing 5-minute bidding and moving to “fast” markets though DERs.
  • Discussion Paper by CERC on Re-designing Real Time Electricity Markets in India (July 2018)- The paper focuses on shifting to Real Time Markets, which is possible only when there is a controllability and certainty in the energy generation from resources. VPPs can help addressing this issue by making RE/DER more controllable. Also, paper talks about the “visibility issue” of DER, which again can be solved through VPPs.
  • Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (Deviation Settlement Mechanism and related matters) Regulations, 2013 and Latest (Fifth) Amendment, 2019- Deviation from forecasted generation occurs due to forecasting errors and sudden weather changes. Reducing generation output (curtailment) to minimize deviation charges especially in event of excessive generation is an option. However, it leads to loss of effective utilization of resources. VPP can here help in reduction of power curtailment and/or deviation charges through its enhanced forecasting and optimization tools, along with the ability to control generating sources real-time.
  • Discussion Paper by CERC on Re-designing Ancillary Services Mechanism in India (September 2018): The paper focuses on designing of reserve market which can bid at regional and national level. Also, DERs including behind-the-meter resources have been identified as potential ancillary service provider for future. VPPs can support this transition and re-designing of ancillary market by aggregating DERs and making them controllable and visible to the market.

Author

Hiten Parekh

Hiten Parekh

Chief Business Officer | SolarSquare Energy

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or publishers.