This chapter is a part of Brookings India's edited book, "Blowing Hard or Shining Bright? Making Renewable Power Sustainable in India" To view the preface and table of contents, click here.
This chapter explores the future of the grid as a Smart Grid, in particular how it can synergize with renewable power. This includes new (dynamic) pricing schemes, storage technologies, and dynamic demand management. Each of these aspects, rather, the entire spectrum of a Smart Grid needs policy support, independent of the links to increased renewable power. These include new tariff and pricing schemas, support for new technologies, and even a new framework for Smart Grid rollouts across the nation. One additional area where Smart Grids and renewables intersect is for distributed generation, including microgrids, where now power can flow upwards from the edge, instead of top-down (aka centralized delivery). This requires legal, regulatory, and safety-engineering standards and policies to materialize and scale.
Rahul Tongia is a Fellow (non-resident) with Brookings India and the Brookings Institution. He is also an Adj. Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was on the faculty for over dozen years, and is the Tech. Advisor to the India Smart Grid Task Force, Govt. of India. His research is interdisciplinary, focusing on technology and policy for sustainable human development, with domain expertise in energy/electricity and IT/telecom.
Indian Railways’ business model is based on passengers underpaying and freight overpaying. Already, in financial year 2016-17, coal’s extra freight charge increased the cost of power by about 10 paise per kilowatt on average. For power plants in distant states, which inherently rely on Railways for coal, this number can be three times higher.
Gujarat, Punjab, Tamil Nadu that are far from coal mines, and therefore pay more than others, will contribute proportionately more to recover the coaching loss — the passenger subsidy. This overpayment by coal-based power applies to all coal generation in States like Punjab as all their coal comes via Railways.