As chairman and managing director (CMD) of the Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), K.V.S. Baba is playing an instrumental role in efficiently managing the country’s electric grid while tackling the manifold challenges in grid operations…
Having spent more than three decades in the power sector, K.V.S. Baba knows the industry’s challenges and opportunities. During the course of his journey, he has witnessed the growth of the sector, its major achievements and challenges from up close.
In terms of big changes, Baba notes that the Electricity Act, 2003 was among the biggest and brought about a paradigm shift in the sector. “The regulatory frameworks facilitated the evolution of an organised market for electricity in India and paved the way for the introduction of reserve regulation ancillary services, security constrained economic despatch and automatic generation control in the Indian power system,” he says.
Another key achievement for the sector has been the interconnection of the regional grids to form a synchronous national grid. Further, various amendments to the Indian Electricity Grid Code, transmission planning criteria and transmission charges sharing regulations over the past 25 years have brought about positive and far-reaching changes in transmission planning and grid operation to enhance grid security and reliability.
Alongside the evolution of the grid, challenges in grid operations have also increased manyfold, Baba believes. “These challenges are being addressed by improving stakeholder coordination, system visualisation, data analytics, system simulation studies, system automation, flexibility, resilience, deployment of optimisation techniques and operator training,” he says.
Baba also lists some of the measures that could benefit grid operations. These are strict compliance with technical standards by all grid users, improvement in demand/renewable energy forecasting, resource adequacy, maintenance of flexible reserves, strengthening of wideband communications, implementation of the SAMAST (scheduling, accounting, metering and settlement of transactions in electricity) and CABIL (capacity building of Indian load despatch centres) frameworks, strengthening of the intra-state transmission and distribution network, and empowering of the state load despatch centres.
“POSOCO will continue its focus on system security, reliability and resilience through resource adequacy,
network modelling and simulation studies, forecasting, assessment and deployment of reserves and
Over the years, Baba has gained experience in power system planning, system operation, corporate planning and execution/project management of distribution projects. Some of his areas of interest are system reliability, open access, regulatory affairs and integration of renewable energy. He has been actively associated with GIZ Germany, National Renewable Energy Laboratories and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, USA, in the study of integration of 175 GW of renewables into the Indian grid by 2022 as well as associated issues. He has also been instrumental in the successful implementation of reserve regulation ancillary services. He has co-authored several papers on the electricity sector.
An electrical and electronics engineer from JNTU College of Engineering, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, Baba started his career at NTPC Limited. He later moved to Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, where he worked for over 21 years, rising through the ranks to become general manager.
He joined POSOCO in 2013 and was appointed CMD in 2017. Prior to his current role, he served as the CEO of POSOCO. He is currently working on reserves, flexibility and optimisation. Baba has been representing POSOCO at the GO15 (formerly, Very Large Power Grid Operators of the World). He is also the chairman of the Indian National Study Committee of CIGRE SC C2.
“The deepening of the markets through the introduction of new products and the increase in the number
of players will affect the scale and complexity of grid operations.”
Since Baba has been associated with POSOCO in leading roles for over 10 years, he has led through most of the achievements of the organisation. The introduction of frequency control through reserves and ancillary services has been one of the key achievements towards operational security and reliability. There has been an emphasis on flexibility in operations in terms of generation, transmission, distribution and markets.
“The introduction of closer to real-time electricity markets has supported utilities’ portfolio management with less leaning on the grid. Integrated web-based energy scheduling pan-India and gate closure have enabled fast data transfer and visibility for operations on a 15-minute time-block basis,” says Baba.
Technology has transformed the organisation significantly in recent years. Synchro phasor technology deployment and application have given deep insights into post-despatch analysis, ensuring grid resilience. Data, controls and automation have enabled big data analytics and visualisation for better system operations. Control rooms have a state-of-the-art supervisory control and data acquisition/energy management system. Dedicated control centres for renewables, that is, renewable energy management centres (REMCs), have also been established pan-India.
On POSOCO’s focus areas in the coming years, Baba says, “POSOCO would continue its focus on system security, reliability and resilience through resource adequacy, network modelling and simulation studies, forecasting, assessment and deployment of reserves and optimisation. We will work towards enhancing transparency, and stakeholder coordination and collaboration with academia. Our internal policies will focus on talent management, empowering our knowledge workers and keeping them motivated to meet growing stakeholder expectations.” Apart from this, energy and capacity procurement with physical and financial market structures in various time horizons would be needed to ensure resource adequacy. Inertia monitoring and assessment would be essential with the increasing penetration of renewables. The integration of new actors such as electric vehicles (EV), storage, green hydrogen and distribution service operators would be key focus areas. According to Baba, digital infrastructure, cybersecurity and ways of work scalable with interoperable information and communication systems have to be emphasised in the “new normal”. “Modernisation of control centres with artificial intelligence tools and maximisation of system performance are some of the key areas that can ensure efficient system operations,” he adds.
The major challenges in grid operation and reliability, according to Baba, are the changing composition of generation resources, with an increase in renewable and distributed generation, an ageing AC transmission infrastructure and increase in electricity demand. “These challenges are already stressing the existing infrastructure and resulting in operations closer to grid stability limits. The future of the power system will require more integration of renewable energy sources for a cleaner environment,” he says. In this context, the application of flexible transmission elements, namely, HVDC, and FACTS would provide performance solutions for network control. It would also include EV applications.
In Baba’s opinion, the deepening of the markets through the introduction of new products and the increase in the number of players will affect the scale and complexity of grid operation. There will be operational challenges such as fast ramping, variability, intermittency, potential grid instabilities resulting from a loss of inertia, loss of visibility and controllability of behind-the-meter resources, load stagnation/oversupply, and inadequate communication interfaces and operator training. “To address these, flexible operation of the existing conventional generation is being increasingly called for,” says Baba.
Overall, Baba sees a positive outlook for the power sector in the next 25 years, as India is on track to achieve its renewable energy target of 500 GW by 2030. Going forward, the markets will have to cater to the diverse needs of grid security, reliability and economy. There will be an increasing focus on the aggregation of distributed resources, for example solar rooftops, and participation in the markets. In view of this, consumer-centricity would be a key priority, according to Baba.
Further, the electrification of transportation will be a major driver for demand growth and flexibility resources. New forms of energy storage such as low-impact pumped storage plants and batteries will support the balancing of the grid with reliability support services. The adaptation of green hydrogen technology for various sectors of the Indian economy will also play a significant role in the clean energy transition. “Significant measures would need to be taken to make the grid storm-hardy and electricity infrastructure more resilient to the various risks posed by climate change and other phenomena,” says Baba.