Indo-German Energy Forum Subgroup I Meeting on Flexibilisation of Existing Thermal Power Plants

The Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF) convened a Subgroup I meeting on the subject of "Flexibilisation of Existing Thermal Power Plants" on June 6, 2023, in New Delhi. The meeting, chaired by Dr. Andreas Nicolin, Deputy Director General, Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), and Shri Piyush Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Power (MoP), witnessed discussions and decisions addressing various aspects of enhancing the flexibility of thermal power plants.

Efficiency in low load operation was emphasised in one of the important choices taken during the meeting. The participants agreed that the flexibilization process needed a market mechanism to be effective. Additionally, it was decided to provide the report on Guidelines for Flexible Operation of Coal Fired Power Plants in India to the relevant stakeholders, with MoP offering to send it to GENCOs (power generation companies).

Shri Ramesh Babu, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) offered two steps and advanced the idea that "seeing is believing" during the sessions. To begin with, it was advised that a flexibility simulator be implemented to continue assisting in better comprehension and decision-making. To learn from the experiences of power plant operators in Europe, the concept of fact-finding missions, delegations, or study tours was proposed.

During the meeting, storage options and carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) were also covered; additional discussion and investigation of these subjects are scheduled for further meetings. It was accepted that tests in supercritical units had already been carried out, and the need for additional tests to determine their benefits was acknowledged. NTPC has actively participated in adjusting its operations to meet flexibility measures, and its skills and experience have been cited as key resources.

Dr. Nicolin advised that the German and Indian sides increase their exchange of knowledge about efficiency in low load operations. IGEF was tasked with analysing European incentives other than electricity exchange and identifying analogous incentives in India to increase flexibility.

Participants emphasised the importance of studying market processes and reviewing successful flexibility measures already implemented in Europe to ensure economic viability. Additionally, the need for continuing conversations on storage options was emphasised, suggesting a desire to go deeper into this area.

The Indo-German Energy Forum Subgroup I meeting provided a forum for beneficial exchanges, decision-making, and future planning to improve the flexibility of thermal power plants in India.