Climate Compliance of Indian Grid

Debajyoti Majumder – Chief Manger, Grid Controller of India Limited


Apr 25, 2024

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
― Charles Darwin

    Darwin’s seminal work, “On the Origin of Species,” published in 1859, presented a comprehensive explanation of how species evolve over time through a process of natural selection. The core of Darwin’s theory emphasized that within a population, individuals with variations better suited to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on these advantageous traits to their offspring. In this age of climate crisis, nothing seems truer than Darwin’s postulation. The climate change fuelled by practically irreversible anthropogenic footprints has placed humanity at the brink of an unprecedented civilisational collapse. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) report presented the latest scientific understanding of climate change, its impacts, and potential adaptation and mitigation strategies. It has made clarion call for urgent action towards limiting global warming to 1.2 degrees Celsius which would be an even more challenging task than aiming for the 1.5-degree target. Achieving this precise temperature target would likely involve significant changes in industries, transportation, agriculture and land use practices with a key focus on rapid transitions to renewable energy sources.

      Precisely in this area of renewable energy adoption India has lot to offer to the humanity. With its population roughly 18% of global population and per capita carbon emissions estimated to be around 1.9 to 2.0 metric tons of CO2 per person per year (which is considerably lower than many developed countries, such as the United States, where per capita emissions were significantly higher, often surpassing 15 metric tons of CO2 per person per year), India’s carbon footprint in terms of its per capita consumption is already quite low. Yet India has not shied itself from taking ambitious targets in renewable energy adoption.

      At Paris climate conference India has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels. This commitment aims to decouple economic growth from carbon emissions, emphasizing sustainable development while aiming to substantially increase its share of non-fossil fuel-based energy sources in its total energy mix. This included plans to install 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and increase it further to 450 GW by 2030.

      While there remains an air of optimism especially at the backdrop of steady increase in renewable energy capacity in the country. The host of challenges it brings to the table are not little either. Except occasional impact on regional grids on account of cyclonic disturbances the traditional power system was largely immune from weather impacts. But with the recent backdrop of growing extreme weather phenomenon across India, renewable fuelled generation is getting directly affected from vagaries of weather. It’s a constant source of fascination and frustration, keeping system operators on their toes and reminding the power of nature.

      In the recent past India has witnessed persistent high demand with record demand met of 240 GW during solar hours on 1st September 2023 and 216 GW during non-solar hours on 28th August 2023. While it was forecasted that all time highest demand will be met during the month of April 2023, untimely rain in April, lowest August rainfall all India since 1901 (36% deficit as compared to Long Period Average 1971-2020) and lowest rainfall since 1901 for Central India and South peninsular India, highest maximum and mean temp in Aug since 1901 and 2nd highest minimum temperature since 1901 (Source: IMD F1 2 SEPT 2023 OF AUG23_Monthly_Clim_Summary.pdf) has pushed the maximum demand to late August 2023. A comparison from all India demand met in 2022 shows that the daily peak demand met in 2023 has remained persistently higher than the last year. The year-on-year growth in demand in August and September 2023 has remained exceptionally high (15% and more). It is evident from the above facts that considering weather anomalies and unforeseen contingencies, ensuring resource adequacy (of both energy resources as well as capacity reserves) in all time horizons is absolute necessary for maintaining grid security, stability and reliability.

      While adopting RE is key to future energy security understanding the security complications it brings needs deeper introspection. Grid-India in its recently published report titled – “Report on Events Involving Transmission Grid Connected Wind & Solar Power Plants” has analysed grid events related to frequent loss of Renewable Energy (RE) generation during last year in India. A total of 31 grid events involving generation loss in the range of 1000-7000 MW in individual events have occurred during the period January 2022 to May 2023 in Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) connected RE pockets. The grid disturbances involving loss of 6-7 GW have been observed in the Rajasthan RE complexes as a consequence of non-compliance during LVRT and/or HVRT events. Such events are not only a threat to grid security. They also enhance the requirement of the generation reserves to be maintained in the grid.

      Thus, compliance needs to be placed at the heart of our green energy journey. Indeed, the new Indian Electricity Grid Code has dedicated a chapter on Monitoring and Compliance Code.  While all kind of compliance comes with a cost, nothing costs dearly as the effects of non-compliance. Perhaps, adaptability towards renewable energy commitments and commitments towards its associated compliances can ensure our survivability in Darwinian sense in this age of global warming and climate change.


      Disclaimer: Please note that this article expresses the author’s personal opinion and is not reflective of any organization’s stance.