Technological disruptions are quite subtle. Before you realise their full implications, the market is already transformed. Such a technological disruption recently happened in the renewable energy sector.
The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) just concluded the auction of the world’s largest solar-plus-energy-storage tender. The tender, issued in August 2019, was for installing 1,200 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected renewable power generation capacity with energy storage. The critical condition of the tender was an assured supply of 600 MW of power for six hours daily during peak demand time—from 5.30 am to 9.30 am, and from 5.30 pm to 12.30 am.
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The peak power had to be supplied on a day-ahead, on-demand basis. This condition is generally applicable to ‘firm’ power suppliers like coal and gas-based plants, as these plants are available to produce power at all times.
Renewables are considered ‘infirm’, as solar plants are held to be capable of supplying power only when the sun shines, and wind plants, when the wind blows. All this has changed with this tender.