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Cover Story | August 2018

India needs to develop a solid energy storage industry

<span style="font-weight: bold;">Sanjeev K Ahuja, Head, Marketing, Su-Kam Power Systems</span> emphasises the need for a strong storage industry to sustain the rapid growth in the country's renewable energy space. In his view, presently, scant attention is being paid to the subject of energy storage. One of India's leading power solutions companies also sees tremendous opportunity in rooftop solar systems for households.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">How important is it for India to develop a robust energy storage industry?</span><br /> As much as India has a huge potential for solar energy, thanks to the year-round abundant sunlight, it also has huge infrastructural gaps that make robust storage systems extremely critical to its success. For starters, more than 200 million people in India live in rural areas with no access to grid-connected power. Even if the grid connection is available, it is not robust enough to withstand the substantial amount of solar power that needs to be integrated. Another pressing problem is the net-metering system that, despite its potential to help India achieve greater energy security, has not taken off. There has been a considerable shift in the global trends as countries have moved towards the use of renewable energy resources to meet their energy needs. For the Indian market to maintain its growth, the renewable energy sector needs a solid base of the energy storage industry. The government has set the target of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. Energy storage technologies will be instrumental in ensuring energy security and clean energy future. The energy storage industry has various possible applications like support for renewable integration, diesel optimisation, electric vehicles (EVs) and grid support services. <br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">Does the country have the potential to become an important manufacturing hub for energy storage solutions?</span><br /> The government's efforts at promoting the EV segment guarantee a promising future for the energy storage industry. With the right kind of policy intervention, India has the potential of becoming a primary manufacturer of energy technologies. The National Energy Storage Mission is expected to be launched in 2018-19. It is likely to be associated with the solar and wind energy policy. Already a leading producer of the lead-acid batteries, in the next decade, India might also become one of the largest manufacturers of advanced energy storage technologies.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">As one of the largest power solutions providers, how is Su-Kam servicing the needs of this emerging segment?</span><br /> Su-Kam has been a game changer in the power industry since its inception and has made several revolutionary innovations since its foray into the solar energy segment. Not only is it one of India's largest power solutions providers, but also has the biggest share of India's residential solar market. Our world-class battery manufacturing infrastructure is equipped with state-of-art machines and testing systems. Our company specialises in manufacturing lead-acid, tubular, Sealed Maintenance Free (SMF), tall tubular and automotive batteries, battery equalisers and battery management systems. The computer-aided design and manufacturing expertise of Su-Kam ensure the best quality products. All Su-Kam batteries are equipped with C5 charging technology, which means they can be charged with double the charging current so that they get charged in less time. All batteries have a life cycle and the longer the life cycle, the longer will be the life of a battery. Our heavy-duty batteries come with more than 1,800 life cycles, thus they last much longer as compared to other batteries. Our compact and lightweight product, the Battery Management System protects the battery bank from over or under charging and increases battery life by up to 35 per cent. All of our products are enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), Bluetooth, WiFi, GSM, GPRS and GPS. Our batteries are used in areas as diverse as hospitals, banking, ATMs, stock exchanges, air traffic control towers, etc., where continuous supply of power is critical to the operation. They are also widely used in automotive, electrical vehicles, golf carts, hybrid vehicles, motive power, standby emergency power back-ups for telephone exchanges, stationary (UPS and inverters), emergency lighting, alarm and security systems, communication power supply, DC power supply and auto-control system.<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">What are some of the sectors that you are looking at for growth?</span><br /> While the industry players have been aggressively trying to gain a share in the vast opportunity in the solar sector, little attention is being paid to the storage of excess electricity. Massive amounts of electricity will get generated once large solar plants become operational. We, as a company, are therefore focusing on small solar systems for households. With solar panels on their rooftop, consumers can utilise the electricity generated by the solar panels and store excess electricity in batteries or feed it directly into the grid through their state's net metering system. Our focus is on 1 kW to 5 kW solar systems in households. This type of system is going to see a huge boom. With the expansion of the government's initiatives, the EV industry in India is poised for a tremendous growth. Storage systems will provide the backbone of EVs as they run on solar power that will be stored in batteries. As the EV industry booms, the demand for the storage systems will also see a surge. <br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">What is your outlook for the storage segment in the near term?</span><br /> The present-day storage solutions are expensive and have a shorter lifespan as compared to Li-ion batteries. Therefore, as manufacturers, the main challenge for us is to produce storage solutions that are not only affordable, but also have a longer life span in order to drive the photovoltaic segment. Thus, Li-ion batteries are the next big thing in the storage market. However, this sector is still in its infancy and a lot of research needs to be done. Although in the last few years there have been many developments on the technology front, there is still a long way to go. It is to be noted that India does not have lithium reserves. Hence reliable supply of raw material poses a challenge. But as a company, we are optimistic that we will be able to successfully encounter the challenges. With decades of experience and several technology patents to our credit, we will be able to drive the market.<br /> <br /> &quot;For the Indian market to maintain its growth, the renewable energy sector needs a solid base of the energy storage industry. &quot;<br /> <br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">- Manish Pant</span><br />
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