Policy and Regulatory Recommendations to Support a Least-Cost Pathway for India’s Power Sector
National modeling by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that least-cost, operationally feasible pathways for India’s power sector through 2030 consist primarily of investments in renewable energy and flexible resources (with limited additions to coal capacity), including: renewable generation (450-530 GWDC solar and wind, 15 GW other RE), energy storage (60-85 GW), load shifting (60 GW), interstate transmission (140 GW), more flexible operation of existing natural gas generation (25 GW), and development of a more liquid national electricity market. The LBNL national study illustrates that with increases in power system flexibility, India can meet — or even exceed — Prime Minister Modi’s announced target of 450 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030, while reducing costs and increasing power system reliability.
While the modeling study provides a long-term vision, policy and regulatory changes would be needed to achieve that vision, and our recommendations focus on three main areas: resource adequacy (RA), state resource planning and procurement, and short-term markets and system operations. Well-designed system planning and RA frameworks, coordinated with state-level resource planning and procurement and supported by electricity markets, are critical to scaling renewables deployment with less curtailment and less financial and operational stress on conventional assets.
System planning and RA frameworks can help facilitate generation capacity sharing among states, increasing utilization of existing generation assets. They also ensure that electricity supply remains reliable and resilient in response to extreme weather events (e.g., heat and cold waves) and as higher capacities of variable renewable generation are added to the Indian electricity system. Enhancing state-level resource planning and procurement practices would enable states/Discoms to construct least-cost portfolios of renewable, thermal, and storage resources that meet national RA requirements. Electricity markets and system operations provide the connective tissue, assuring that all planned and procured RA capacity will be available when needed and will be operated when economic to do so. In the longer term, markets must be more closely aligned with real-time operations and facilitate energy storage participation.