Stricter Forecasting Norms For India Solar Operators

Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has been insisting states to adopt new forecasting rules that will force solar energy plant operators and Regional load dispatch centres (RLDCs) to provide more frequent and accurate projections of energy production or face penalties.

Such obligations for large-scale PV plants are a must in many European countries, with penalties linked to deviating too far outside forecast margins. The purpose of stricter forecasting rules is to aid grid integration of larger penetrations of variable renewable energy generation.

Only Karnataka and a few other Indian states have taken on new forecasting rules so far.

New forecasting rules have put a lot of pressure during the last years on the R&D sector to continue the improvement of forecasting models. To complicate the matter, lessons from Europe and other markets cannot easily be extrapolated to the very different weather conditions of India.

The rules are expected to be gradually rolled out in other states as India continues to steamroller its way ahead in renewables deployment, having recently reached a cumulative 15.6GW of solar installations, of which 14GW is utility-scale.

Forecasting changes were first proposed by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) under its ‘Framework for Forecasting, Scheduling & Imbalance Handling for Wind & Solar Generating Stations at Inter-State Level’ released in 2015. This was prompted by the need to back down other power generation sources during periods of peak renewables generation in order to maintain load-generation balance. Problems have ensued around how far thermal plants can reduce their generation, curtailment of renewables and the cost of other grid-balancing measures. Moreover industry members are not yet clear what level the penalties relating to forecasting will be set at, particularly as they are going to be introduced state-by-state rather than in one umbrella ruling.