With India's vision of energy security and increasing clean energy portfolio, battery storage solutions have a crucial role to play in stabilising the grid, opines Venkatesh Dwivedi, Director (Projects), Energy Efficiency Services.
Elucidate the potential for energy storage in a country like India?
Considering the target of 175 GW of renewable power by 2022 and the transition to electric mobility, it has been estimated that India presents a potential investment opportunity of $50 billion in battery storage facilities. This could help integrate renewable energy into the grid, substitute diesel-fuelled power, and push growth of electric mobility. It can also help in incorporating the renewables in the grid by providing numerous values to the framework; for example, addressing forecasting errors in wind and solar generation for more accurate scheduling, advancing T&D investments, addressing local dependability issues by providing reactive power support, empowering end users to manage peak load, and enabling more efficient usage of distributed renewables.
With India's vision of energy security and increasing clean energy portfolio, battery storage solutions have a crucial role to play in stabilising the grid. The Government of India acknowledges its importance and the recently-approved National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage is a testament to that. The Mission will ensure holistic and comprehensive growth of the battery manufacturing industry in India. Under this Mission, a phased roadmap to implement battery manufacturing at Giga-scale will be considered with initial focus on large-scale module and pack assembly plants by 2019-20, followed by integrated cell manufacturing by 2021-22.
Which sectors, in your opinion, will drive the expansion of the storage market?
With maturing demand, prices of storage are estimated to go down further. This will enable storage to play a broader role in energy markets, starting from small-scale installations located on-site, such as in a home or business, to large-scale installations by utilities for a variety of on-grid applications enabling them to adapt to uncertain needs at the circuit level and reduce future infrastructure costs.
What is the general feedback that you receive during your various interactions with potential customers for storage solutions?
A lot of discussions are happening on adopting a proper approach for financing storage solutions in the energy market. Innovative business models like battery-on-rental or storage-as-a-service can be explored. Efforts towards financing and de-risking investments like utility-scale solar parks with battery storage, off-grid systems - including mini-grids - and standalone batteries can help stabilise and strengthen grids, and accelerate the battery storage market.
What are some of the new technologies that you might be looking at introducing in the market?
We are exploring integration of charging stations with battery storage solutions. It can help reduce demand charges and also improve grid stability.
Are things on track as far as provisioning of trained manpower and setting up of manufacturing facilities for storage solutions are concerned?
Storage is one of the most crucial and critical components in India's energy infrastructure strategy and supporting India's sustained thrust to renewables. With the government's thrust in establishing manufacturing facilities, the sector is going to witness a few companies enter cell manufacturing. In this context, it is the right time for investment and building skilled manpower.
What are some of the main challenges facing the manufacturers of storage solutions?
It is essential to increase the longevity of batteries and monitor the state of their health, which broadly translates to monitoring their cost, sustainability, safety, and second-hand use. Additionally, considering the variety of e-vehicles, we have electric buses and electric cars, however, the challenge that battery manufacturers can face is one of inter-compatibility. However, among the most critical challenges is how to recycle the batteries and enable them to have a second-hand use.
Does the country have the potential to become an important manufacturing hub for energy storage solutions?
If we can successfully develop battery manufacturing expertise and scale its domestic production capacity, India has the potential to build a durable economic advantage in this key sector. While securing raw materials will be critically important to India's battery manufacturing supply chain, recent analyses by NITI Aayog reports indicate that for most key constituents, enough supplies should be available to meet projected increases in demand.
What is your outlook?
Energy storage has a critical role to play in India's power sector and holds a lot of promise to advance the country's vision of becoming a low-carbon economy. With support from the government and active participation of all stakeholders including the industry, focus should be on improving the technology to enable more energy efficiency and easy integration with the grid.
- RAHUL KAMAT