Sharing success stories to create the desire for change

Photovoltaic system on a roof in India

Typical Indian roof with self-feeding solar system. Photo: BMU/expectus GmbH

The IKI project "Integration of Renewable Energies into the Indian Electricity System (I-RE)" supports the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in developing the electricity market in India in a climate-friendly way and in increasing renewable energies. To this end, it wants to promote, among other things, decentralised photovoltaic systems on the roofs of buildings. Project manager Jörg Gäbler from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) explains exactly how.

How do you intend to use renewable energies in the project?

Jörg Gäbler: The basis of our project is a technical solution that makes it possible to feed the electricity generated on the roof directly into the power grid in the household. The PV systems are connected to sockets like a refrigerator or other everyday life power consumers. Small, special battery storage units are used to draw off the solar power even when consumption is at its highest and the grid has peak loads. The electricity supply is often interrupted in India, so these “Uninterruptible Power Supply” (UPS) systems are available in almost every household. We are investigating the effects that such a small-scale electricty feed-in has on the entire distribution network.

Did you have to convince a lot of people? And if so, how?

Jörg Gäbler at a speakers deskAlthough India has a population of over 1.3 billion, it has only about 80 energy suppliers that are usually state-owned. The enery suppliers were very sceptical about feeding electricity from small, decentralised plants into the grid. In the first exemplary projects in the metropolis of Delhi and in the city of Bhopal, which is not so centrally located, we showed in a study that it is entirely possible to feed electricity into the grid in this way – and we also proved that it can even stabilise the electricity grid. As a result, the Indian “Federal Network Agency” then decided to adapt the existing regulations and allow a maximum limit of 70% of one transformer capacity as standard. An important factor here is that private, wealthier households in India consume a lot of electricity, because of the air conditioning systems that are turned on en masse when people come home every day. Our PV Port & Store system gives this group the opportunity to decide for themselves, and  they can simply buy a device with a plug and a battery that feeds the electricity generated on the roof directly into the grid. For the product to be successful, we needed a technically perfect solution, and we achieved this thanks to the system that was developed in Germany.

Many IKI projects work in different funding areas. Is that the case here as well?

We focus on reducing climate-damaging emissions. We calculated that one tonne of CO2, which would normally be produced by coal-fired electricity is saved for every megawatt hour of solar electricity. However, our work is also relevant to the holistic “Climate Smart Cities” approach, through which the IKI is carrying out impressive work in Indian cities. To earn the “Climate Smart City” designation, cities must carry out activities in various fields, ranging from transport to biodiversity protection. The electricity and energy sector in which we work is also very relevant for these activities.

What are your plans for the project?

We are planning a study on the effects of integrating battery storage units into networks and their advantages for energy suppliers. We also see a lot of potential for using decentralised small roof systems like this in smart cities, but on a large scale.

What is the main challenge for climate protection projects?

The important thing is making people want to change by showing your successes. However, we can only achieve this through exemplary projects that encourage people to try out new approaches, also in new countries. You have to whet their appetites for change!