In some small ways, future is already being played out in Tamil Nadu in the context of renewable energy.
It is well known that TN has been a leader in wind energy, having raced to the top with over 7000 MW. While other states have started gnawing at its heels, the state is still on top of the wind energy table.
Now, the fast growth of wind has not been without its challenges.
During some of the most windy months (as during now), Tamil Nadu is not able to utilize all the wind power generated owing to its already contracted demand from coal power plants for that day.
Why should TNEB or TANGEDCO contract so much from coal power plants when that could be used from wind power plants? Mainly because it is not able to predict how much the wind power plant will generate in the next few days.
Now, connect all the dots, and what do you get?
If only TNEB is able to forecast wind power generation with reasonable accuracy for a few days ahead, it can schedule power delivery such that it can utilize all the wind power generated.
The good news is, such forecasting has started to happen, and it appears to be reaping rich benefits.
This news report says some interesting data: During the previous wind seasons, TNEB evacuated about 68 million units per day. This wind season, it is evacuating 81 million units per day owing to better forecasting.
That would be 13 million units per day more. Wind power is paid only Rs 3.51 in TN, and the report says on average TNEB pays Rs 5.5 on average for power purchase otherwise.
That sounds like a cool profit – Rs 26 million or Rs 2.6 CRORE EVERY DAY
Just owing to better forecasting.
How indeed does this forecasting work?
Here are some details from the news report.
“A 10-member group from the India Wind Power Association has been supplying five-day forecast of wind power to TNEB for the last 25 days. This has been helping the board to turn down or stop coal and other power plants for whose power it pays nearly Rs 5.50 and take in cheap wind power instead.
The industry group has stepped in even as the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) recently entered into an agreement with a Spanish company for real-time forecasting. “Every late night, the team sends us the forecast for the next five days,” said a Tangedco official. The accuracy of the forecasting is around 60% and the industry group hopes to improve that in the coming months.
“The forecast is for 24 hours starting from 12am to 11pm and it is hourly. Based on this we are able to stop some thermal plants, both government-owned and private, and save coal,” said the official.
“We use five forecasting models and each model has an algorithm based on which forecasting is carried out,” said Indian Wind Power Association president K Kasthurirangaian. “We need to fine-tune the meters fixed in 12,000 windmills across the state and collect data to ascertain the wind pattern with full confidence,” he said.”
Interesting indeed, and let us hope that technology is able to make renewables integrate more seamlessly with the rest of grid in the coming years.