Experts Urge More Focus on Localized Energy Solutions at ALP Forum 2021
The ALP Forum 2021, on 25th August, focused on support and services being provided to power system operators to fast-track adoption of approaches, tools and technologies to accelerate the transition to clean energy and the Role of System Operators in Clean Energy Transitions, and Distributed Energy Resources.
In the first session focused on the role and outcomes of the Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) Consortium, Ms. Barbara O’Neil, Grid Integration Manager, NREL, US Department of Energy, spoke about PST and the role of system operators. The G-PST was set up, because ‘we wanted a consortium of system operators and technical institutes” that focused on support to power system operators with advanced, low-emission solutions, she said, because technical and engineering knowledge is not being created or transferred to power system operators at the speed and scale required to support the global energy transition.
The challenges in PST include perceived high costs, lack of institutional support, vested interests, and the perception that variable renewable energy (VRE) is unreliable. “We want the ability to include renewable energy in systems; this works by reinforcing political advocacy solutions, market, policy and regulatory solutions and also technical solutions,” Ms. O’Neil said. She added that system operators are important because “the buck stops with them to provide reliable and stable power”.
“Once we give them confidence in working with VRE, we can also attract private sector investment such as from domestic solar and wind power developers. Let’s call on big money and governments to fund this and tell them that this is where the rubber meets the road,” she said.
The change that will come will bring research innovation, sharing of tools and knowledge and customized solutions. “The same standards cannot be applied everywhere; let’s look for local solutions,” she pointed out. These will lead to impacts such as significant private investment in advanced power systems; reduced energy and delivery costs for consumers and significant emissions reductions for the power sector. The G-PST advances action in five key areas: research and peer learning; technical assistance; workforce development; localized technology adoption support and open data and tools.
Mr. Suroso Isnandar, General Manager, Java Bali Grid Dispatching Centre, PLN – Indonesia State Electricity Company, spoke on PLN’s integration plans and challenges. Indonesia’s total power generation capacity currently is 63GW, with renewable energy capacity of 7.9GW and energy mix of 13.02%; the country aims to increase these figures to 74GW, 17GW and 23%, respectively. Mr. Isnandar said the country has abundant power resources across its islands, in terms of hydropower and geothermal and other sources of energy. During the 2021-30 period, there will be an additional 38.2GW of power plants, where the majority would be of renewable energy. No new additional coal-based plant would be set up after 2022, except the ones that already on contract (14GW). “Indonesia is targeting to close all coal-based power plants by 2060,” he said. To enhance energy efficiency, the country is switching from sub-critical to ultra -critical power plants. This can also control emissions and co-firing is also been introduced to further control emissions. Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) are also being built for controlling frequency regulations in the grid.
He mentioned the challenges of VRE penetration into the grid, such as output variability, intermittency in both demand and generation of power, ineffective grid code compliance, among others. He also gave an overview of how the Sulawesi and Java grids are trying to overcome these challenges to adapt to renewable energy technologies and to optimize the potential of existing ones. “Optimizing the use of existing technologies (SCADA / EMS, Forecast system, AGC) will support greater VRE integration with the power grid,” he said.
Distributed Energy Resources to support energy transition
The second session focused on “Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) to support energy transition”. DERs are resources connected to the distribution system close to the electricity load, and include distributed photovoltaic solar, wind, combined heat and power, micro grids, micro turbines, storage technologies, and others. DERs have the potential to provide services to customers, distribution grids, and the electric system, but DER growth may present challenges.
The session witnessed recommendations for creating a road map for DER in developing countries and examples carried out in the Asian countries.
It was moderated by Mr. Mark B. Glick, Specialist, Energy Policy and Innovation, the Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), who discussed how the role of DERs as a resource is increasing as a source of lighting in the rural areas. In his presentation, he mentioned 940 million people are without energy access, and that energy demand has risen 2.5 times since 1990.
He further added that as a means of accelerating progress towards the SDG 7 goal of universal electricity, DERs require multiple actions and innovations. These include new policies and regulations, updated delivery and financing models, re-imagined institutional frameworks, enhanced capacity building, increased technology adaptation, and expanded cross sector-linkages.
“DERs are emerging as a critical part of energy transition. There is a new political momentum for energy transition as countries raise their climate ambitions,” he said.
Mr Santiago Enriquez-Soltero, Senior Environmental and Climate Change Specialist, Abt Associates, spoke on the Roadmaps of DERs. He started off by explaining some of the benefits of DERs, which include reducing costs; new capital investments in centralized infrastructure; providing access to electricity in areas where traditional infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive; and potential for better service reliability and power quality. With DERs, there is increased energy security and improvement in the balance of trade for countries that rely on imported fuels for power generation, and there is increased reliance on RE resources that produce little or no air and water pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Mr. Enriquez-Soltero also shared some challenges of DERs. There is risk of mismatch between supply and demand of electricity, changes to utility business models, increased complexity of grid operations, and data management and cyber security risks. He then explained that a DER roadmap is essentially a guidance document or action plan, which identifies national or subnational goals, targets, and milestones for DERs. It is often used as a synonym for a plan, but maybe less prescriptive on timelines for achieving targets, and may address all types of DER technologies or a limited subset.
The benefits of DER roadmaps are that they can be useful to government planners and regulators, utilities, grid operators and market operators in making improved decisions on DER investments and use. They can help utilities develop consensus on objectives, targets, technologies and location-specific priorities and plans for procurement, financing and implementation of investments and programs. The road maps also represent the interests of diverse stakeholders in the planning stage, which can reduce regulatory delays and increase public and private investment and consensus for implementation.
Dana Kenney, Principal Associate, Clean Power Asia, spoke about her organisation’s initiatives, which are funded by USAID. The Clean Power Asia Program, which began in June 2016, focuses on grid connected renewable energy, including DER, mainly in low-income countries and also in South-east Asia. This includes high RE scenarios planning, improvising policy enabling environment & mobilizing investments.
“In the last 5 years, the program has managed to achieve higher Low Emission Power (LOP) targets with more than 9000 MW clean energy installed or reaching financial closure, and prevented more than 90 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in GHG emissions from being released,” Ms Kenney said.
She also presented the success stories of the program initiatives to promote Distributed Generation (DPV), Battery Energy Storage Systems & EVs in Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. With the presence of political will, Vietnam was able to rapidly overtake both Thailand and the Philippines in terms of DPV installed capacity.
She concluded that key lesson from their work is “capacity building & information distribution to equipped professionals to better position them to implement the policies”.
Marc M. Matsuura, Senior Smart Grid Program Manager, HNEI, presented Hawaii’s journey of implementing DERs, with case studies about implementing them in its islands.
“With the right grid codes and advancements in inverter technologies, we can increase the capacity of distributed PV, which can be connected to the grid,” Marc said.
Walking through the DER interconnection process with the grid, Marc said in 2013 there were around 4000 applications per month from customers willing to connect DERs with grids.
As grid codes and utilities evolved in Hawaii, the capacity limits increased from 15% of the circuit peak load in 2013 to 250% of DML transient voltage in 2014.
Mr Matsuura also explained the technical process flow for approving interconnection requests of the customers.
Abhishek Ranjan, VP & Head, Renewable & DSM Initiatives, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, New Delhi, spoke about the initiatives and experience of the DISCOM (Power Distribution Company) in implementing Distributed PV & EV technologies. He mentioned that DERs play a significant role in Energy Transition (ET).
“Rooftop solar, Managed EV Charging, Energy Storage and Demand Side Management including Demand Response together offer a very good platform to effect energy transition,” Mr Ranjan said.
He mentioned about Govt. of India’s National Electricity Policy 2021, where the govt. has recognised DER as a resource, and now there is a requirement for effecting change in the grid code. Giving the evidence from the COVID -19 scenario in Delhi, he said when activities are limited or backed-up with sustainable energy, energy transition happens.
He presented on the energy transition from 2019-20 to 2021-22, which shows that in 2019-20, 64% of the energy requirements by their consumers were met with coal power & only 3% by RE, while in 2021-22 the coal stake reduced to 53% & the RE stake increased to 18%.
“Rooftop Solar PV potential in Delhi is 2000 MWp. In BSES area, RTS capacity installed has exceeded 100 MWp” Mr Ranjan said. He also presented a study conducted by NREL and BSES on EV charging, according to which the ideal time for EV charging is between 2 AM and 9.30 AM. He added that with regulatory approval, BRPL is implementing community-based Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) ~ 1 MWh (at 6 DT locations).
Dr. Adarsh Nagarajan, Group Manager, Power System Design and Planning, NREL spoke about their initiatives in India. The NREL and USAID, together with the BSES DISCOM in New Delhi, have conducted three studies and published reports for preparing distribution utilities for the future, which includes frameworks for solar PV, storage and demand side management, among others.
The studies provide details about the impact of emerging technologies on system voltages. To visualize future situations, NREL has developed a tool called “EVOLV”. NREL has also conducted a study for unlocking demand side management potential. “The advanced framework developed is reusable for any utility,” Dr. Nagarajan said.