India’s solar power generation plunged about a third during the solar eclipse last Sunday.
Power grid operators, however, handled the sharp drop and surge in generation during the celestial event, underscoring the country’s ability to manage its growing green energy generation and the impact on the national grid.
The drop in solar power generation was projected to be around 11,943 megawatts (MW) on June 21.
Eclipses occur every year, but annular solar eclipses are not common. India has experienced three solar eclipses in the past 10 years—on 22 July 2009, 15 January 2010, and 26 December 2019.
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The eclipse this year also comes against the backdrop of the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, which has led to a drastic fall in pollution and has improved solar radiation.
India has 34.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar power, and aims to have 100GW of solar capacity by 2022.
Also, it has one of the largest interconnected power grids, capable of transferring 99,000MW of electricity from any corner of the country.
The grid is also connected with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
“Electricity grids with such a significant penetration of solar capacity will be adversely impacted by astronomical events such as solar eclipses, due to variation in solar generation (reduction followed by rise in generation) and associated large ramp rates,” a report by state-owned Power System Operation Corp Ltd (Posoco) that oversees India’s critical electricity load management functions said.
The successful management of the grid adds heft to India’s ambitious global electricity grid strategy, with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government calling for bids to roll out the “One Sun One World One Grid” plan.
The plan is spread across three phases. The first phase deals with the Middle East, South Asia-South East Asia interconnection for sharing green energy sources such as solar for meeting electricity needs, including peak demand.
This comes against the backdrop of the US withdrawal from the Paris climate deal and China’s attempts to co-opt countries into its ambitious One Belt One Road initiative.