Draft National Electricity Plan 2022-27

Draft National Electricity Plan 2022-27

News: A new blueprint for the country’s power sector planners – the National Electricity Plan for 2022-27 – marks a discernible reversal in the policy.

What is National Electricity Plan?
 The NEP is a crucial document that guides the development of the power sector in India. It is formulated by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) every five years under the Electricity Act, 2003.
 The CEA formulates short-term (5-year) and prospective plans (15-year) to assess the demand for planning capacity addition and coordinate the activities of various planning agencies for the optimal utilization of resources.
 The NEP provides a review of the last five years (2017-22), capacity addition requirements for 2022-27, and projections for the period 2027-2032.
 The 1st National Electricity Plan was published in 2007, the 2nd in 2013, and the third (2018) includes the detailed Plan for 2017–22 and the perspective Plan for 2022–27.

Key Takeaways from National Electricity Plan for 2022-27:
 The fresh draft notes the need for an additional coal-based capacity of 28 GW by 2031-32, in addition to the 25 GW of coal-based capacity that is currently being built.
 A rise in the coal-fired power plants’ plant load factor (PLF), from 55% in 2026-27 to 62% in 2031-32.
 It also highlights the need for significant investments in battery storage, with an estimated requirement of between 51 GW to 84 GW by 2031-32.
 It also emphasizes the challenges posed by the increasing reliance on renewables, which will require careful management and planning in the years ahead.

What marks a discernible reversal?
 The focus earlier was almost entirely on renewable energy for incremental capacity addition and fresh coal-fired capacity was virtually ruled out.

What are the challenges?
 India's fleet of coal-fired thermal power plants is over 25 years old and runs on outdated technology, which raises concerns about grid stability and power interruptions.
 Uncertainty regarding the management of the renewables-dominated grid infrastructure. For example, due to hydropower’s and zero-inertia solar generators’ slow development, the inertia that provides stability to the grid has been decreasing.
 There is no evaluation of the ramping rate for thermal plants under different solar generation scenarios. The ramping rate is the rate at which a power plant can increase or decrease its output. Without proper assessment, it could lead to issues such as overloading, underloading, or power interruptions.
 There is inadequate funding for the development of battery storage.

Way Forward
 Battery Energy Storage systems (BESS) based on Lithium-ion batteries offer a cost-effective solution to balance the grid against load fluctuations and intermittency in generation. The energy storage can provide energy time-shifting, allowing power to be used when it is needed rather than being wasted when it is generated.
 It is important to continue investing in the development of battery storage technology, as well as exploring new solutions such as water-based systems. This will help address the challenges outlined in the National Electricity Plan for 2022-27 and ensure a stable and reliable power supply in India.
 The hybrid generation models: This will enable a shift to solar energy and provide backup power.

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