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Cost analysis reveals renewable energy and battery storage is cheaper than new coal plant. Wikimedia commons

A new economic viability analysis on Friday revealed that renewable energy along with battery storage in Tamil Nadu is cost competitive with new coal power plants.

The report finds the levelized cost of energy for a hypothetical hybrid, solar, wind and li-ion battery storage system for the state to be Rs 4.97/kWh in 2021, which falls to Rs 3.4/kWh by 2030.


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In comparison, cost of electricity produced from new coal power plants in Tamil Nadu is between Rs 4.5-6/kWh.

The hybrid system is designed to cater to 1GW of solar and wind capacity in 2021 with two hours of battery backup, which increases step wise to a four-hour backup by 2030.

The research further highlighted that lithium-based battery storage systems could also help reduce curtailment of renewable energy. Close to 50 per cent of solar power in Tamil Nadu was curtailed since the lockdown in March 2020.


Wind turbines. Pixabay

Similarly, its curtailment of wind power in 2019 went up to 3.52hours per day from 1.87 hours per day in 2018.

“Our analysis found that the cost of hybrid RE with battery storage system is at parity with new coal power plants in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, in 10-year time, incremental capacity addition would further drive down the cost by over 31 percent,” said Jyoti Gulia, founder of JMK Research and Analysis.

The analysis, released by Climate Trends and JMK Research and Analytics, tracks the system from an initial capacity of 800 MW of solar and 200 MW of wind along with 500 MWh of storage, that would cater to Tamil Nadu’s average annual power demand for two hours per day from 2021-2023.


Tamil Nadu. Wikimedia commons

Its capacity is augmented to three hours of daily backup for 2024-2026, and then four hours per day for 2027-2030. In the last year, the hybrid system would meet 29 per cent of Tamil Nadu’s average annual power demand at a competitive levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of Rs 3.4/kWh.

It also puts into perspective that Tamil Nadu has five new thermal power projects in its pipeline over the next three years. The Cheyyur ultra mega coal power plant is the biggest of these projects with a tariff of Rs 5-6/kWh, which would be 32 to 43 per cent more expensive than the system modeled in the analysis.

“Tamil Nadu has got the largest installed renewable energy capacity and it leads India’s energy transition efforts, yet it also has the largest coal power pipeline in the country. Since RE with battery storage works out to be cheaper than coal, perhaps TANGEDCO and other state power generation companies need to reconsider the coal pipeline,” Aarti Khosla, Director, Climate Trends, told IANS.

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Also, if this hypothetical, solar and wind-powered storage system were to wheel all of its energy to Delhi, even after accounting for interstate transmission system charges it could cover 100 per cent of Delhi’s average yearly electricity demand by 2030 at an LCOE of Rs 4.4/kWh.

“The system thus demonstrates that RE coupled with battery storage is a technically and financially viable option to building new coal capacity. At the same time, it would be a dispatchable source of power that addresses the grid integration of intermittent solar and wind power,” added Jyoti. (IANS)


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