Insights into Editorial: Grid stability is key

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Insights into Editorial: Grid stability is key


Context:

Electricity is a major concern in rural India, especially for farmers. The Government of India has come up with an original plan to address this problem.

With the objective of providing financial and water security to farmers, Government has come up with a scheme called Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM).

Additionally, to ensure optimal use of this solar energy, and to incentivise farmers to shift to renewable energy, the government plans to purchase the surplus power through electricity distribution companies.

Government must ensure that this ambitious plan to help farmers earn from solar power is properly studied and implemented.

What is KUSUM?

The KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) scheme was announced in the Union Budget in 2018.

Features:

  • The government will spend 48,000 crore rupees over 10 years as central financial assistance (CFA).
  • The scheme aims to encourage the use of barren land for setting up solar power plants. 
  • Scheme incentivizes farmers to run solar farm water pumps.
  • This programme will help set up more than 28 GW of combined solar capacity through these solar pumps.
  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will start implementing this scheme from the next fiscal year.

Four components of the Scheme:

  • The scheme plans for setting up of 10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Solar Power Plants
  • Installation of 17.50 Lakh Stand-alone Solar Pumps
  • Solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid Connected Agriculture Pumps
  • 50 Thousand Tube-wells/Lift Irrigation Projects by Financial Year 2021-22.

What are the advantages of the scheme?

  • Transmission losses and power theft would drop significantly.
  • As proposed in the scheme, the main priority will be to rely on Local generation of power.
  • It promotes decentralized solar power production.
  • The scheme would also promote energy efficiency, water conservation and water security to farmers.
  • The government’s plan to purchase the surplus power through electricity distribution companies will certainly increase agricultural incomes and reduce electricity losses.
  • The sale of excess power from farmers will discourage overutilization of groundwater.

What are the limitations?

The feasibility of purchasing surplus solar power seems challenging. There is a need to address the issue of grid stability that this injection of surplus power is bound to create.

Balancing of all power grids is more important. Because power generation should work round the clock as electricity generated can’t be stored.

The existing electrical gridlines were created to depend on reliable and controllable generators of coal, oil and even hydroelectric power.

So, for inclusion of solar and wind power generators into the grid, a more precise balance will have to be created.

Solar and wind power are fluctuating in nature which depend on sunlight and cloud conditions.

Variations in weather patterns make it more difficult for the grid operator to predict the balance of electrical energy that will be required to meet the demand.

So to maintain a consistent round-the-clock power delivery the grid operators will need to have a back-up source of power in the form of coal or oil.

What is the need of the hour?

Because of India’s sheer size, the variability factor considerably increases like when some areas have low consumption; others are likely to have high consumption.

So, more stability can be achieved by integrating the grids into all-India grids.

Attention also should be given to the stability of the grid; otherwise the grid network collapses due to the uncertainties of power supply and demand.

Expected advances in storage technology would also significantly improve grid stability.

Centre along with state governments should put in place adequate procedures to purchase the excess solar power from farmers.