Join us to listen to Jose A. Martinez at 14:00 IST on the 26th of June, speaking about Solutions for Enabling Flexible Operation at TPPs
India has achieved 165.94GW of renewable energy capacity by October 2022 and has set ambitious revised targets for renewable energies to 500 GW by 2030. India can successfully integrate 390GW of wind and solar generation by 2030, an increase of more than 40% above the current renewable energy trajectory, at a total system cost that is lower than that of the current trajectory. By making both electricity supply and electricity demand more flexible, India can achieve these higher levels of clean energy, creating a modern, low-cost energy system, while reducing carbon emissions.
This requires a radical transformation of the energy system in India, as approximately 65 percent of the existing installed capacity currently comes from thermal power generation. The increasing share of variable renewable energies will result in fewer operating hours as well as in flexible operation regimes of India’s conventional mainly coal-fired – power plants. Indian coal – which is the key source for the majority of coal-fired power plants in India – has some special properties which also have an influence on flexible operation. While this is expected to lower carbon emissions and help meet the growing energy demand, the integration of renewables into the grid will be a big challenge. Renewable energy generation suffers from fluctuations, predictable and unpredictable, due to uncertainty in weather conditions. To accommodate such sharp variations in the generation, there has to be a multi-pronged approach including cyclic operation of gas and hydro-based generation, use of existing pumped storage systems, development of pumped storage and battery storage, adoption of demand management measures and flexible operation of coal-based plants for the optimization of the entire power system.
The increased share of feed-in from fluctuating renewable energies – mainly wind and solar – results in complex challenges for the energy system. In addition to other options such as grid and demand-side management, flexible conventional power generation plays a key role in ensuring adequate system stability. Therefore, existing coal-fired power plants need to adapt to a completely new operating regime.
On 30 January 2023, the Central Electricity Authority issued the Flexible Operation of Coal-based Thermal Power Generating Units Regulations.
The minimum power level of these generating units should be 40%. These generating units should have a ramp rate capability of a minimum of 3% per minute for their operation between 70% to 100% of maximum continuous power rating and should have a ramp rate capability of a minimum of 2% per minute for their operation between 55% to 70% of maximum continuous power rating.
Flexible power plant operation comprises three dimensions: low minimum load operation, short and efficient start-ups, and shut-down and high ramp rates. Most measures for flexibility enhancement aim at low minimum load operation. This is very important for the provision of residual load and in times of low demand, it is more economical than shutting down the whole plant. The transformation from base-load to flexible operation is a change process that requires strong management and leadership, skilled employees, and appropriate technology.
The Instrumentation and Control (I&C) system plays a crucial role for flexible operation. Plant status transparency, the availability of operating data, sophisticated data assessments and advanced controls are a prerequisite for operating a power plant with enhanced flexibility. Moreover, the I&C system is the link joining all aspects important for efficient plant operation. It should be in the focus of any flexibility project as the benefits and the cost effectiveness are unbeatable. With respect to further digitization, I&C optimization offers even more potential, by enabling efficiency and flexibility enhancements at the same time.
ADEX Self-tuning AI Control Technology can be a pivotal tool to support coal-fired power plants to deal with these challenges to be flexible, reliable, and dispatchable.