Supply 24x7 power to reduce diesel genset use: Draft electricity rules

The use of diesel gensets is increasing in India; new rules published by Centre now provide incentive to replace them with renewables

By Sumedha Awasthy
Published: Friday 01 October 2021

Distribution licencees should ensure 24x7 uninterrupted power supply to all consumers so that there is no requirement of running Diesel Generating (DG) sets, the Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Amendment Rules, 2021, published September 30, 2021, have stated.

The electricity regulatory commission could consider a separate reliability charge for the distribution company, if it required funds for investment in infrastructure, the rules added. This was to ensure the reliability of supply to consumers.

The state electricity regulatory commission should also make a provision of penalty in case the standards laid down are not met by the distribution company.

The rules were published by the Union Ministry of Power (MoP) September 30, 2021.

The draft amendment introduces some key additions and revisions to the Electricity (Rights of Consumer) Rules, 2020, which had been notified by MoP December 31, 2020 by exercising its powers under Section 176 of the Electricity Act, 2003.

The rules also talked about a five-year period being given to consumers who used DGs for back-up power, to change over to cleaner sources including solar with battery storage.

The construction power rule stated that connection should be given within 48 hours to reduce reliance on DGs. This would avoid any use of DG sets for temporary activities in the area of the distribution licensee. The temporary connection shall only be through a pre-payment meter.

A standard DG set of 250 kilo-volt-ampere (kVA) capacity, running on an average of three hours per day emits 0.183 kg per day of particulate matter10, 3.08 kg per day of nitrous oxide and 1.50 kg per day of carbon monoxide, according to a study.

Positive step

The Indian diesel genset market is expected to generate a revenue of $1,518.1 million by 2024, progressing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5 per cent during the forecast period (2019-2024).

The increasing demand for these gensets in construction, manufacturing and commercial projects is one of the major factors driving the market’s growth.

The expansion of the construction sector is expected to drive demand for these gensets to meet prime and compounded auxiliary power requirements, resulting in market growth.

The proposed amendment is thus a positive step toward reducing air pollution.

Running DGs has proven to be more expensive than solar with batteries / storage. Renewables not only reduce pollution, they also save money by reducing diesel purchases and cut repeated maintenance costs of keeping such DGs running for long period of time.

Similarly, the cost of megawatt-scale batteries is falling. This is not enough to justify replacing generators entirely, but enough to help store solar energy for later use, buffer the ups and downs in electricity demand that force generators to run inefficiently or risk power quality problems.

The mandate to replace DGs with clean energy sources is a very big move and gradual replacements of DGs should be done by adding more storage capacity.

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