Indo-German Energy FORUM 2019

The recent visit of German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel to India from 31 October to 1 November 2019 saw both countries pledging to strengthen their cooperation in the field of renewable energy and identifying green mobility as an important domain for further collaboration.

The 8th meeting of the Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF) concluded on 1 November in New Delhi and was co-chaired by Shri Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, Secretary, Ministry of Power, Government of India, and Mr. Christian Hirte, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Government of Germany. The co-chairs were briefed on the ongoing cooperation with regard to flexibilisation of thermal power plants, renewable energies, demand-side energy efficiency and green energy corridors.

The Forum finalised a roadmap for future collaboration between the two countries. The Indian and German ministries approved key activities, including power plant operators training, promotion of promising niche solar markets, as well as specific activities to promote energy efficiency in buildings and industry. Credit lines for financing corresponding measures continue to be of highest importance for the cooperation between both countries. The two countries also agreed to continue working on the topic of increasing RE evacuation through state-of-the-art intra-state and inter-state transmission grid infrastructure. 

A total of eight implementation agreements and MoUs have been signed or witnessed by the Ministry of Power, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and their German counterparts.

Panel Discussion on Market and System Integration of Renewable Energies

German and Indian experts from different areas of the energy sector participated in a panel discussion, following an introduction by Dr. Christine Falken-Grosser, Head of Division, German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The panelists stressed the importance of flexible dispatchable power generation for successful transformation of the energy system.

Shri Babaji, Chairman and Managing Director, POSOCO, noted the importance of a robust grid infrastructure, enforced grid codes, improved forecasting of generation from renewables and ancillary markets to assure increased renewable energy dispatch. He shared with the audience the latest statistics on states in India that registered high renewable energy penetration levels. For instance, Karnataka experienced maximum daily penetration of wind and solar at 56%, and incidentally, during certain hours, penetrations of around 90% wind and solar had to be managed.

Dr. Oliver Then, Executive Managing Director of VGB Power Tech, highlighted options for increasing flexibility in the energy system, such as increased flexibilisation of conventional generation, energy storage including Power-to-X, network expansion, and demand-side management measures. In recent years, the flexibility characteristics of conventional power plants have been continuously developed in Germany and Europe, he stated, regardless of the fuel used. Main flexibility parameters are minimum load, load change speeds, and startup and shutdown times.

Mr. Joerg Doerner, Business Development Head Energy Transition Technologies, Siemens AG added that there is no “one size fits all” solution for energy storage, with a wide range of choices available in order to meet specific needs and conditions. He stressed the vast potential of sector coupling for India in order to reduce carbon emissions due to the fact that about half of India’s greenhouse gas emissions do not stem from the power sector.

Dr. Jochen Dirksmeyer, Wpd Offshore’s Country Manager India, focused on the potential of offshore wind in India. He expressed certainty that offshore wind would play a vital role in India since steady wind speeds allow offshore plants to provide base load. Moreover, it complements solar power plants in particular, as offshore wind parks usually generate power during the night when the sun is not shining. Dr. Dirksmeyer also addressed the fact that initial generation costs would be higher when compared to solar and wind on land, but would drop quickly. The country manager for India emphasised the opportunity to establish offshore wind as a central part of the energy mix, which also would generate jobs in production and maintenance in the long term. 

Mr. Sascha Krause-Tünker from the German solar company Next2Sun presented the various advantages of vertical bifacial AgroPV plants, which have been successfully constructed and tested in Europe. This concept allows for the generation of additional and stable income for smallholder farmers and avoids water conflicts due to reduced requirements for PV system cleaning. Only 1% of the space required for conventional PV installation is needed in the case of vertical module mounting. Vertical PV installations also contribute to grid stabilisation, since vertical AgroPV plants produce power particularly in the morning and evening hours when the demand for electricity is generally higher. Additionally, vertically mounted modules can prevent erosion by reducing surface wind speed.

The time for solar has just begun, stated Prof. Dr. Eicke Weber, Vice-President of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) and former Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems. He added that a solar disruption from 500 GW photovoltaics installed globally at present to up to 5000 GW within the next ten years is very much a realistic notion.

High Level Panel Discussion on Inter-Ministerial support to the Energy Transition

A true highlight of the day addressing Inter-Ministerial support to the energy transition was moderated by Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The panel brought together high-ranking state secretaries from Germany Ms. Bettina Hagedorn, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, and Mr. Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as high-level representatives from India Shri Praveen Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), and Shri Jatindra Nath Swain, Managing Director at Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) Ltd.