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Electricity: The backbone of an integrated energy system

Palakshi Singh - palakshisiingh@gmail.com

ABSTRACT 


In an era defines by technological advancements and the pressing need for sustainable energy solutions, an in integrated energy system is essential; for meeting the ever-growing global energy demands. This white paper explores the pivotal role of electricity as the backbone of such a system. By examining the significance of electricity in the context of renewable energy integration, smart grids, and decarburization efforts, we aim to demonstrate its crucial role in fostering a cleaner, more efficient, and resilient energy landscape.


Introduction 


As the world continues to face challenges related to climate change, energy security, and economic stability, the need for a cohesive and integrated approach to energy management becomes evident. An integrated energy system leverages diverse energy sources, cutting-edge technologies, and advanced infrastructure to optimize energy generation, distribution, and consumption. At the heart of this system lies electricity, which serves as the pin that connects various energy components and drives the transformation towards a more sustainable future.


ROLE OF ELECTR4ICTY IN RENEWABLE ENERGY INTEGRATION 


One of the primary challenges of integrating renewable energy sources into the global energy mix is their intermittency. Solar and wind power generation, for the instance, depend on weather conditions, leading to fluctuation in the energy supply. Electricity plays a vital role in addressing this challenge by acting as an intermediary that facilitates the smooth integration of renewable energy into the grid. The integration of electricity into and integrated energy system is further amplified by implementation of smart grids. A smart grid is an intelligent, digitally-enabled energy distribution network that optimizes the flow of electricity, enhances reliability, and enables two-way communication between consumers and utilities. The urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions calls for an accelerated transition towards low-carbon and carbon -neutral energy systems. Electricity is a key player in driving towards decarburization efforts across various sectors.


SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS FACED IN INDIA


As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, India faces several challenges regarding electricity as the backbone of an integrated energy system. While the situation might have evolved, some key problems still existing are: -


  1. Uneven distribution and access-Despite significant progress, there are still areas in India with limits or no access to electricity. Ensuring equitable distribution and universal access remains a challenge, particularly in remote and rural areas.


Objective: - Access to electricity is meaningful and will lead to socio-economic development only when quality electricity is available in a reliable, adequate, and affordable manner. Further, electricity is primarily a service, and utilities are expected to meet certain standards of robust customer services to achieve the goal of customer satisfaction. Definition of access needs to evolve from merely having an electricity connection to a more comprehensive view – one that includes critical aspects such as the capacity, legality, and safety of that connection. Over the years, through many policies and measures, the definition of electricity access in India has slowly evolved. the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) initiative, launched in 2011, aims to achieve universal access to modern energy services by 2030. Similarly, by 2030, providing universal energy access that is affordable, reliable, and sustainable is the target of Sustainable Development Goal 7. he Multi-tier Framework (MTF) e MTF redefines energy access based on capacity, availability/duration, reliability, quality, affordability, legality, health and safety, and customer service but also whether these services are of adequate quality, reliable, affordable, safe, The MTF has six tiers, ranging from Tier 0 (the lowest level of access) to Tier 5 (the highest level). It provides a path towards universal energy access that can be customized for each country’s circumstances.


Methodology: - This study used a mixed design approach that included primary research on customers and primary and secondary research on the electricity distribution utilities serving these customers. For both customers and utilities, primary research included quantitative and qualitative aspects. On-the-ground observational surveys of substations and feeders supplemented the understanding gained through the quantitative and qualitative surveys around key infrastructure issues and the challenges faced by the utilities


  1. Regulatory and policy framework-Streamlining regulations and creating clear policies to encourage investment in renewable energy, grid modernization, and energy storage technologies is crucial for the successful integration of electricity into and integrated energy system.


Objective: - The Constitution of India places electricity under the concurrent list. Therefore, both the Parliament (Union) and the State Legislatures (State) in India can legislate on matters relating to electricity subject to the law made by Parliament, which have precedence over the laws made by the State Legislature. The Electricity Act 2003 governs the activities relating to generation, transmission, distribution, trading, and use of electricity in India. The generation of electricity (except hydro) is an activity that does not require a licence. Distribution, transmission, and trading of electricity are licensed activities under the Electricity Act. Before the Electricity Act entered into force, the activities of generation and distribution were state-owned. One of the key objectives of the Electricity Act was promoting competition within its framework allowing private sector participation in power generation, supply, and distribution of electricity in India.


Methodology: -Bundling of electricity to ensure an uninterrupted supply. On 22 July 2020, the Government of India issued the Guidelines for Tariff Based Competitive Bidding Process for Procurement of Round-The Clock Power from Grid Connected Renewable Energy Power Projects, complemented with Power from Coal Based Thermal Power Projects (RTC Guidelines). The RTC Guidelines will enable long-term procurement of round-the-clock electricity by distribution companies from inter-state transmission system-connected solar and wind electricity generation projects bundled or complemented with electricity generated from thermal power projects with a spare generating capacity.

Privatisation of distribution companies. Traditionally, distribution companies were owned by the respective states engaging in both the generation and distribution of electricity. After the introduction of Electricity Act, distribution companies continued being held by the state while gradually allowing private companies to engage in the distribution of electricity.


  1. Lack of energy storage infrastructure-Energy storage solutions, such as large-scale battery storage are essential for storing excess electricity from renewable sources and ensuring a stable power supply. However, the deployment of energy storage infrastructure is still limited in India.


Objective: - - This year, India experienced the third-hottest April in the past 122 years, with no relief in May. As a result, the maximum all-India electricity demand-met hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous year’s maximum demand-met. Moreover, despite soaring energy costs a variety of reasons such as increase in population, economic development, static designs for machinery and portable devices and so on have results in a huge increase in power consumption.


Methodology: - Solution-Shifting form traditional sources such as fossil fuels to renewable resources can be a simple and effective way to meet this ever-increasing energy need. This will also help with the government’s goal of achieving 500GW of non- fossil fuel power capacity by 2030. As a result, the importance of energy storage in a mix of energy sources that includes significant amounts of solar and wind power cannot be overstated. Establishing energy storage systems (ESS) has thus emerged as a critical step for the power sector, particularly for electric vehicles. ESS converts electrical energy from power systems, stores energy and acts as a power standby to compensate for power during peak electrical requirements. Its most prominent advantages are cost reduction and the potential to differentiate transmission and distribution infrastructure investments. So, if India wants to get 50% of it’s from renewable sources by 2030 and work toward becoming a net-zero economy, an EES could be a good step towards achieving this goal.


  1. Efficient demand-side management-Implementing effective demand-side management practices can help optimize energy consumption and reduce peak demand, but awareness and adoption of such measures remain relatively low.


Objective: - Demand Side Management (DSM) has been traditionally recognized as one of the major interventions to achieve reduction in energy demands while ensuring continuous development. In recent past, DSM has gained unprecedented importance and has become an integral part of almost all the central and state missions on promotion of Energy Efficiency. DSM interventions have helped utilities not only to reduce the peak electricity demands and but also to defer high investments in generation, transmission, and distribution networks.


This programme promises energy efficiency through agriculture demand side management by reduction in overall power consumption, improving efficiencies of ground water extraction, reducing subsidy burden on state utilities and investment in power plants through avoided capacity. Over 70 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture. The growing demand for public utilities due to rising population and improved standards of living of the population has increased the energy demand for the service provided by the urban local bodies. The Municipality sector/urban local bodies (ULBs) consume electricity for various utility services like street lighting, water pumping, sewage treatment, and in various public buildings. Currently around 30% of Indian population lives in urban areas and continuous migration from rural areas is putting additional burden on the urban local bodies.


Methodology: - - Demand Side Management (DSM) measures in the Energy Sector is a cost-effective tool. As a customer strategy, DSM programs encourage the installation of end-use technologies that consume less energy, thereby reducing and/or shifting the customers’ overall electric bill. DSM programs can help utilities to reduce their peak power purchases on the wholesale market, thereby lowering their overall cost of operations. The capacity building and other support is essential for the DISCOMs to implement DSM in their respective areas. In this context, Bureau of Energy Efficiency has launched a programme for capacity building of DISCOMs. This will help in capacity building of DISCOM officials and development of various mechanisms to promote DSM in their respective areas.


It is important to note that the Indian government and various stakeholders have been actively working on addressing these challenges. Policies like the National Electricity Policy, the Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance yojana (UDAY), and various renewable energy initiatives are aimed at overcoming these issues and creating a robust and sustainable integrated energy system in India. 


Conclusion


Electricity serves as the backbone of an integral energy system by enabling the seamless integration of renewable sources, empowering the implementation of smart grids, and driving decarbonization efforts across various sectors. As the world strives for sustainable and resilient energy future, it is imperative to recognize the critical role that electricity plays in reshaping our energy landscape.

An integrated energy system centered around electricity not only offers environmental benefits but also fosters energy security, economic growth, and improved living standards for communities worldwide. Embracing this holistic approach will pave the way for a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future for generations to come.


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