August 4, 2020 Read More →

India’s first round-the clock renewable energy contract

Mongabay:

In May 2020, India claimed to have reached a historic milestone in renewable energy. The central government awarded a contract for the supply of 400 megawatts of solar and wind energy. Unlike other such contracts, this was the first-ever “round-the-clock” supply contract.

Round-the-clock (RTC) supply overcomes the natural limitations of renewable sources like solar and wind, which produce power only when there’s enough sunshine and wind. Without RTC supply of renewable power, electricity supply companies still have to rely on coal-fired thermal power, which becomes one of the biggest impediments to a transition out of fossil fuels. Because batteries and energy storage is too expensive, no country has been able to achieve RTC renewable power supply.

Announcing India’s RTC contract, renewable energy minister R.K. Singh wrote in a post on Twitter that India had added a “golden chapter” to its renewables story, and made a “new beginning” towards schedulable power from “100% renewable energy”.

However, a closer look at the contract documentation paints a different picture. The government documentation of the contract shows that between January 2020 and May 2020, the government amended the terms five times such that in the final form, all the conditions that required an RTC supply were deleted or diluted. The final result is that the RTC contract is neither round-the-clock nor does it guarantee schedulable power. It is at best, analysts say, a step towards a round-the-clock supply in the distant future.

This means that instead of supplying round-the-clock, the power could be concentrated over a few hours only, said Vibhuti Garg, energy economist at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “It doesn’t mean that electricity will be supplied 24 hours a day,” Garg said. “It is not actually round-the-clock supply.”

[Nihar Gokhale]

More: Is India’s first round-the-clock renewable energy contract really what it claims to be?

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