Atul Arya, Head - Energy Systems, Panasonic India, makes the case for distributed energy storage in India.
India has been witnessing an increase in renewable power installed over the last few years. Globally India is the fastest growing electricity sector, and with increase in penetration of renewable energy sources into the distribution system, it has become indispensable to incorporate large scale integration of energy storage, which gives us the flexibility to quickly ramp up supply.
With the growing impulse on energy and the need to improve its quality and reliability, a growing impetus has been laid upon the energy storage industry. This is either due to poor maintenance or service, or the grid infrastructure's inability to absorb the power when it is generated at the source, thus leading to loss of energy.
On the other side, distributed solar and storage technologies possess the ability to reduce variability, strengthen grid resilience and improve energy reliability. India currently wastes substantial amounts of renewable energy v reaching about 15-20 per cent, depending on geography and time of the day. This is easily avoidable with the use of storage technologies.
There are a considerable number of advantages associated with the concept of distributed storage. It is able to augment the operational levels of the power system since it eliminates the single point of power consumption or generation. Distributed energy storage systems placed at downstream side of the electricity value chain or power system (closer to the end user), can provide multiple benefits as compared to a central large energy storage system placed at an upstream side (closer to generation). The effects can be realised all the way right up to the generation side of the system. Finally, the lighter, smaller units in a distributed architecture allows a single person to install a battery storage system of virtually any size and realise a cumulative storage capacity of virtually any size. E.g.: a distributed energy storage network of 8,000 batteries located at 7,000 telecom facilities in France reduced utility demand by 10-15 MW during two demand response events.
It doesn't come as a surprise that global corporations and energy analysts are betting on distributed energy storage to advance solar and energy storage capabilities and thrust it into a new era of storage technology. In a report, 'Community, Residential, and Commercial Energy Storage', it was revealed that the global market for distributed energy storage has been growing beyond expectations and is poised to increase ten-fold by the end of FY2018.
This rapid increase in innovation is the result of intense competition and industries need to simplify their energy storage facilities and make them safe. According to BNEF's New Energy Outlook report, global electricity demand is expected to grow 60 per cent by 2040, a numerical ground which will eventually be gigantically stoked by emerging nations' economic growth and increase in electrification rates.
It is also estimated that for the next two and a half decades India is expected to have the highest absolute electricity demand growth of any country in the world, a phenomenon which will be driven by a combination of electrification and population growth.
The transformative role distributed energy storage will play in the future of energy, largely depends on a broad range of factors. Regulatory and economics will have an obvious impact on how the technology shapes up, however there are a large number of other characteristics such as consumer behaviour and social trend which have a telling say on the µeventuality' of the storage technology. There also exist uncertainties that can impact the roll out of distributed storage solutions in both emerging and developed markets, such as regulation, electricity prices and cost of storage.
The increasing penetration of solar PV is fundamentally altering the reigns of the power sector within India. As the capacity of renewable electricity generated has begun to increase substantially, there is now a significant need for well-established energy storage grids in order to enable operators to enhance their operational functionality. Although India's energy storage business is still in its nascent stage, solar energy storage is expected to plunge notably over the next decade, systems costs will decline and financing options will become more viable. Given the increasing need for storage due to PV penetration, the ball is now in the court of the Indian policy makers to capitalise on this sizeable opportunity and gain a major share in the global storage market.
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