Home >Industry >Energy >India records 12 GW drop in solar power generation during eclipse

New Delhi: India’s electricity grid recorded around 12 giga watt (GW) drop in solar power generation during the solar eclipse on Sunday.

The power grid operators successfully managed the shock due to the sudden drop and surge in generation during the celestial event.

Events such as these prove India’s ability to manage its growing green energy generation and the impact on the national grid. This was also evident on 5 April, when India pulled off a feat in electricity grid management during a 9-minute blackout, called for by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun and the earth but doesn't cover the former completely, leaving the sun's visible outer edges to appear as a ‘ring of fire’. This leads to a drop in solar irradiance which impacts power generation. The drop in generation was expected to be around 11,943 mega watt (MW) during the eclipse, Mint had reported on 2 June.

Eclipses occur every year, but annular solar eclipses are not common. India has experienced three solar eclipses in the past ten years—on 22 July 2009, 15 January 2010 and 26 December 2019.

The eclipse this year also comes in the backdrop of the lockdown which has led to a drastic fall in pollution, thereby improving solar radiation. India’s peak demand in FY19 was 168.74 GW and touched a record high of 183 GW in May last year. The country has an installed power-generation capacity of 370 GW.

The grid management’s ability also adds heft to India’ ambitious global electricity grid strategy, with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government calling for bids to roll-out the “One Sun One World One Grid" (OSOWOG) plan.

The plan has been spread across three phases. The first phase deals with the Middle East—South Asia—-South East Asia interconnection for sharing green energy sources such as solar for meeting electricity needs including peak demand.

This also comes in the backdrop of the US withdrawal from the Paris climate deal and China’s attempts to co-opt countries into its ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, a programme to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including railways, ports and power grids, across Asia, Africa and Europe.

India has 34.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar power, with an aim of having 100 GW of solar energy capacity by 2022. It is also one of the largest interconnected power grid, capable of transferring 99,000 MW of electricity from any corner of the country. It is also connected with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

A report by state-owned Power System Operation Corp Ltd (Posoco) that oversees India’s critical electricity load management functions on 21 June solar eclipse, reviewed by Mint, said, “Electricity grids with such a significant penetration of solar capacity will be adversely impacted by astronomical events such as solar eclipse, due to variation in solar generation (reduction followed by rise in generation) and associated large ramp rates."

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