An energy update from GE in India

Edition - 3

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Smart technology to modernize & digitize power grids as a sustainable solution

India is working to facilitate a greater share of renewable energy with an objective to make its power infrastructure cost-effective, responsive, and reliable

India’s power sector has demonstrated its suppleness beyond doubt. This was reflected on April 5th, 2020, when the nation switched off its power tap for nine minutes to express solidarity in times of lockdown. Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), with their meticulous planning swung into action immediately and managed to avoid any potential incidents. The emergency response was efficiently carried out with the support of several national and state agencies, aided by the GE Digital Grid software team and Advanced Energy Management System (AEMS) solutions.

Yet, from a resiliency perspective, the age-old Indian grids are still fragile with intermittent interruptions and volatility, mainly due to the massive surge in power demand. Given the ambitious target of providing ‘24x7 Power for All’ by the end of 2022, the country will have to produce more from sustainable resources.

Future of the power grid: Digitalization has ushered in the new industrial revolution. From a modern perspective, the country immediately needs a digitalized, flexible and interactive power system that promotes efficient use of energy. One initiative that would transform the existing centralized power network into a decentralised generation system, is the smart grid. Europe's Electricity Networks of the Future defines it as an electricity network that can intelligently integrate the actions of all users connected to it – generators, consumers and those that do both – to efficiently deliver sustainable, economical, and secure electricity supplies.

Smart grid solutions can contribute to reduction of T&D losses, peak load management, improved quality of service, increased reliability, better asset management, renewable integration, better accessibility to electricity and lead to self-healing grids. Smart grids offer greater efficiency and utilisation across the spectrum of energy, improving access to cost-efficient power and lowering higher infra spending. Globally, smart grids are proving to be a clean energy innovation.

In India, fossil fuels account for 58% of the installed power generation capacity as of now. However, as of September 2022, the country has seen a higher growth in renewables at 13.41% vs 10.67% overall, as per government data. Among renewables, hydro power provides 11.5% of the capacity while wind, solar and others account for 29%. The total share of renewable energy will have to go up to around two-thirds (66%) by 2050 to meet India’s global commitments, along with a significant improvement in energy efficiency if the country hopes to meet the challenges of higher population and economic growth. Smart grids, then, can also be seen as a viable solution to global climate change and energy crisis.

India is aiming to be a global leader in smart grid innovations in areas like energy storage, network reliability and efficiency, integration of renewable energy, digitalization, and integration of local systems into national grids. Under its Smart Grid Research Initiative (SGRI), India is promoting feasible and efficient innovations to facilitate a greater share of renewable energy in the overall mix, to have a 100% renewable-powered grid. Several international collaborations have been set up under Smart Energy Grids and Storage (SEGS) and Smart Energy Grids and Energy Systems (SEGES) programmes to evolve technologies and methodologies, adaptable to local as well as global needs through a virtual joint Clean Energy Centre.

Under the National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM), the government is also addressing key issues of Smart Grid Initiatives (SGIs) on a large scale in the country. It comes with an objective to make India’s power infrastructure cost-effective, responsive, and reliable. A 20-year perspective plan for integrated inter-regional, inter-state and intra-state transmission networks for the country has been formulated with vision to provide 24x7 power for all homes in India.

Smart grid technology and stability: While India has one of the highly sophisticated energy management systems at the transmission level, it requires more progress in its massive distribution grid. The distribution system needs more sensors for monitoring, communication, and management. Moreover, given its vastness, India may benefit from the so-called self-healing grids that automatically manage faults.

However, much depends on the smart software that orchestrates and automates the grid to manage the distribution and collect vital data.  System software with advanced capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can combine imaging, deep learning, and other techniques to better forecast the overall generation, demand, and supply dynamics, and so on for variable sources like wind and hydel energy.  To improve asset performance, the software can access real-time data from sensors to do more effective and predictive maintenance. Another inherent advantage of the ML skills is that it can proactively create islands and micro-grids that can survive a grid failure and salvage power to cities, without getting the whole system back on. 

Decarbonization opportunities: Given the rising contribution of renewable energy sources into the primary energy mix, the future of power grids will have to be much more than just being smart. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that, globally, the share of renewable energy would go up from 25% in 2017 to 85% by 2050. As countries attempt to limit the rise of average global temperature to well below 2°C, renewables along with energy efficiency will play a decisive role in the transformation exercise, providing over 90% of energy-related CO2 emission reductions, through safe, reliable, and affordable technologies, according to IRENA.

For this, grid technologies will have to evolve or upgrade to integrate new resources such as EVs, distributed solar and wind generation and energy storage, increasing the complexity of the two-way grid. Climate changes will singularly give rise to more operational risks to the grids along with cyberattacks. As such, modernising the grid with flexible technologies has become much more critical than ever.  Smart grid implementation across India could reduce transmission and distribution losses and cut CO2 emissions. This would minimize the need for increased generation capacity and facilitate a far greater utilization of renewable and decentralized sources of energy generation.

*The piece has been put together by GE based on publicly available sources

GE’s grid resilience technology for rapid power restoration

(Left to right): Project leader, Dr. Bilgehan Donmez, with GE Research grid resilience team members, Sumit Bose, Maozhong Gong, Aditya Kumar, and Hullas Sehgal, in front of a GE inverter that is part of the Research's Lab's 6 MW Future of Energy Outdoor Test Facility located on its Niskayuna, NY campus. The Test Facility, equipped with inverters, a solar array, and GE Reservoir energy storage units, represent key building blocks of resilient power systems and are necessary to develop automated restoration solutions

Climate change affects global temperature and precipitation patterns and is increasingly being associated with widespread changes in weather patterns leading to extreme natural events such as heat waves and large storms. These weather events cause widespread loss to lives and assets; and at the same time, harshly impact the sustenance and functioning of critical infrastructure, such as power systems.

In response to these adverse and often unexpected impacts of climate change, GE is developing advanced grid solutions that limit the impacts of sudden climate adversities and are also committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We, at GE, recently announced one of the several projects supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop new grid resilient technologies that allow communities to rapidly restore power. We do this, keeping in mind, the severe weather events that are devastating communities and knocking out electricity before power can be fully restored.

GE Research, together with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); LUMA Energy, which operates and manages the electrical grid in Puerto Rico; Sandia National Laboratories; and GE’s Renewable Energy and Digital businesses – will together develop and demonstrate an automated power restoration system in Puerto Rico that would enable a community to rapidly restore electricity following extreme weather events. Moving forward, GE’s solution could serve as a model for communities to quickly restore power in the future following severe weather events.

Our automated rapid power restoration system will use sensors to collect outage data directly after a weather event occurs. The grid software will then process this data to rapidly assess power outage impacts in the community and determine the most feasible actions to restore power.  The system will then automate this response through the dispatch of distributed energy resources (DER) management systems that tap into the solar and battery back-up power system to initiate a black start- delivering electricity independently to communities until the larger grid network can be restored.

Through this project, we will integrate the expertise of GE’s Digital and Grid Solutions businesses. Building on GE Digital’s distributed energy resource management system, called Opus One DERMS, will be key for innovation in focus areas. The technology enables electric utilities to dynamically manage and orchestrate distributed energy resources (DERs), black-start service and coordinate the continuous operation of local resources under extreme weather conditions. The team also will develop new technologies using GE Grid Solution’s microgrid and GE Digital Grid Software’s DER management solutions as building blocks for real-time control and optimization of DERs and loads, with resiliency of community grids as the primary objective.

*The piece has been put together by GE based on publicly available sources

General Electric

GE has been a partner in driving India’s energy transition through future-forward technologies. As committed partners in climate solutions, we recognize and address the urgent need for a massive step-up in the deployment of renewable energy. We work closely with the government under their flagship schemes to support sectoral ambitions. Spark is a GE curated quarterly newsletter on the energy sector. This edition captures views of government and industry stakeholders on a suite of onshore and offshore wind energy solutions.

Mahesh Palashikar, President, GE South Asia

The information contained herein is of a general nature and the publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for errors & omissions contained in this newsletter. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on the information contained which is of general use & may not be appropriate for the reader’s particular circumstances and/or situation. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors/individuals and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of GE. No part of this newsletter or any part of the contents may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permissions of the publishers in writing.

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