Smart Initiatives to Meet the Challenge of 175 GW Renewable Energy Integration in India

By R. Nagaraja and Chandrasekhar Reddy Atla

India is progressing in the energy sector with large and aggressive energy transformation programs on smart cities, renewable energy development policies and grid modernization projects. Green Energy and Smart Grids will play a key role in the success of these programs.

In Dec. 2015, India set the ambitious goal of generating 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022, including 100 GW Solar (60 GW utility-scale and 40GW on roof-tops), 60 GW of wind, 10 GW of bio-energy and 5 GW of small hydro. The deployment of unprecedented levels of Renewable Energy (RE) can greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the economy and strengthen the national energy security.

In 2015, the following challenges and initiatives were identified as the main concerns in the path towards integrating 175 GW of RE by 2022.


  1. Lack of comprehensive national policy and legislative framework for renewable energy
  2. An acute shortage of willing and credit-worthy buyers of RE-based electricity
  3. Poorly planned and non-supportive project development environment
  4. Inadequate and out-dated grid infrastructure and system operations have affected not just the RE sector but the overall power reliability of the nation


  1. Upgrade grid technology
  2. Upgrade grid operation protocols
    • Grid codes
    • Scheduling and dispatch
  3. Expand balancing areas
  4. Promote flexible demand and supply resources

The growth of RE generation (excluding large hydro generation) with year-ahead additions and targets show a really noteworthy green energy installation rate. As of 31st March, 2018, the installed capacity of RE in the Indian grid is 65.54 GW, out of which the major contributions are from wind (32.96 GW) and solar (19.58 GW). Roof-top solar generation is yet to pick up and the installed capacity on 31st Dec. 2017 was around 864 MW.

With the introduction of competitive bidding process for renewables in 2017, the tariff has been considerably reduced from $ 0.06-0.09 per kWh to $ 0.04-0.05 per kWh.

Experience in other places around the world has shown that when RE penetration reaches significant levels, the ability of the power grid to manage that RE has to be enhanced, so as to avoid challenges to electricity reliability and affordability.

Considering the technical challenges in integrating high levels of RE capacity into the grid, the Government of India (GoI) and MoP (Ministry of Power), MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy), POSOCO (Power System Operation Corporation limited), CERC (Central Electricity Regulatory Commission), CEA (Central Electricity Authority) are working with system planners and system operators at country and state levels. External agencies like USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), ADB (Asian Development Bank) and Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation are also collaborating with the utilities to support the GoI initiative of 175 GW of RE by 2022.

Various policy measures have been launched and special steps are taken by different agencies like CERC, CEA and other government agencies, in addition to providing financial support to various schemes implemented by the MNRE for achieving the target of 175 GW of renewables by 2022. These include the following.

  • Policy and Regulation: Inter alia, suitable amendments to the Electricity Act and Tariff Policy to enforce Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) and for providing Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO), draft regulations on secondary reserves, setting up of exclusive solar parks, development of power transmission network through the Green Energy Corridor project, guidelines to incentivize solar and wind energy though tariff-based competitive bidding process, National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, repowering of Wind Power Projects, standards for deployment of solar photovoltaic systems/devices, orders for waiving the Inter-State Transmission System charges and losses for interstate sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by March 2019.
  • Amendments and Support: Identification of large government complexes/buildings for rooftop projects, provision of rooftop solar and 10% renewable energy commitments under Mission Statement and Guidelines for the development of smart cities, amendments in building by-laws for mandatory installation of rooftop solar systems for new constructions or higher Floor-Area Ratio.
  • Financial Support: Infrastructure support for solar projects, increasing tax-free solar bonds, providing long term loans, making rooftop solar part of housing loan plans by banks/NHB, incorporating measures in Integrated Power Development Scheme for encouraging distribution companies and making net-metering compulsory, and raising funds from bilateral and international donors as also the Green Climate Fund to achieve the target.

Under a bilateral program, Partnership to Advance Clean Energy - Deployment (PACE-D) between India and the US, USAID is supporting the MoP and MNRE to boost the growth of clean energy in India. Under the PACE-D, Greening the Grid (GTG) program is targeted to develop the know-how of India’s power system planners and operators, so as to manage the large-scale integration of RE into its power grid at an acceptable cost. The GTG program focuses on:

  1. Rigorous analytical modeling of reforms to integrate 175 GW of RE by 2022.
  2. Supporting six grid-integration pilots to test the building blocks for improved integration of renewable energy in India’s power grid. The pilots include: Dynamic compensation for Large RE Park Integration, Flexible coal-based generation, Automatic Generation Control for generation mix including RE generation, Real-time monitoring of rooftop solar PV and net-load forecasting for distribution companies, Regional platform for reserves sharing.
  3. Facilitating exchanges between U.S. and Indian regulators, grid operators, and utilities to strengthen the enabling environment.

GIZ has also collaborating with the GoI over the past 60 years. GIZ initiatives include:

  • Indo-German Energy Programme (2015-2020): This program has four parts: energy efficiency for Industry, development of the energy conservation building code, large-scale grid integration of renewable energies through the green energy corridor project, and Photovoltaic (PV) roof systems.
  • Indo-German Energy Forum (2016-2018): It is a dialogue platform for high-level political decision-makers as well as for representatives from the private sector and research institutes in both countries.
  • Integration of Renewable Energies into the Indian Electricity System (2014-2018): The objective of the project is to support the GoI in achieving its objectives of 175 GW of installed RE by 2022.

Based on the studies performed by different agencies, it was found that the transmission network designed for the year 2021-22 is adequate to host 175 GW of RE. However, it is with the close monitoring of initiatives in various categories like planning, policy and regulations, operational practices and its corrective actions that will make 175 GW of renewables integration a reality. The major initiatives include:

  1. Deployment of storage facilities, like pumped hydro storage, as grid connected balancing sources
  2. Enabling of secondary reserves (Automatic Generation Control) at generation sources
  3. Monitoring the progress of planned network projects as delays affect power system operation
  4. Utilization of Renewable Energy Management System to control RE as per grid requirements.
  5. Improving system operational practices with advanced technologies and tools in control center.
  6. Dynamic reactive power control at grid level

This article was edited by Frances Bell.

For a downloadable copy of the May 2018 eNewsletterwhich includes this article, please visit the IEEE Smart Grid Resource Center



Nagaraja R

R. Nagaraja, IEEE senior member, is Promoter and Managing Director of Power Research Development Consultants Pvt. Ltd., Bengaluru, INDIA. He specializes in design, implementation and project management of power system analysis, power plant training simulators, design simulators, SCADA and energy management systems. He has provided consultancy services to large number of utilities and industries across the world. He is the brain and key architect behind the power system analysis software MiPower. R. Nagaraja has served IEEE Power & Energy Society in various capacities. He completed his electrical engineering degree from the University of Mysore in 1986 and did his masters and doctoral degrees from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.


Chandrasekhar Reddy Atla

Chandrasekhar Reddy Atla has published more than 20 papers in international conferences and journals. His areas of interest include power system operation, energy management system, power system reliability, generation and transmission planning, renewable integration and forecasting etc. He received his a bachelors degree in electrical engineering from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, INDIA, in 2003; a masters degree in power & energy systems from National Institute of Technology-Karnataka, INDIA, in 2008.He received a PhD in power system reliability from Visvesvaraya Technological University, INDIA, in 2017, and currently working with PRDC, Bengaluru, INDIA.

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