Debi Prasad Dash, Director - India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), Customized Energy Solutions, speaks about how Indian solar companies are eyeing to diversify their business into the energy storage space.
At the end of FY16-17, India crossed 12.2 GW of cumulative solar installations. However, to achieve the overall 100 GW of solar target, grid stability, solar ramping and smoothing of output will be the major challenges.
Additionally, solar generation is inherently intermittent and supply may create very large instantaneous ramps. It is also to be noted that operating hours for solar plants are limited to the daytime, when the load is low for consumers.
For islands like Andaman, which are currently dependent on diesel generators as primary source of electricity, and with GoI making plans to add 100 MW solar, power balancing and solar variability are also issues to consider.
Thus, apart from grid connected large scale solar, solar installed in off-grid and micro-grid systems will also require energy storage (batteries) as an essential part of the full system. IESA as the leading energy storage alliance in India is working towards this end with various stakeholders to promote energy storage technologies and applications.
India already floated over 46 MW of large scale energy storage projects in 2016 and is expecting over 100 MW projects for 2017. Six solar, including energy storage projects by SECI were floated last year for Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In 2017, CEL also floated and completed the tendering process for a 1 MW of energy storage project for solar. Recently BHEL also completed the call for Expression of Interest for Li-Ion technologies for a few pilot projects.
Furthermore, GoI is planning to float a tender to set up SPV power plants with energy storage in two sites of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to replace 47 MW of diesel-run generation capacity. These two power plants - a 17 MW plant at Manglutan, near Guptapara village and 8 MW at Chidiyatapu in south Andaman district - have energy storage (battery) of 25 MW capacity.
Apart from government bodies, many MNCs and Indian companies are considering advanced energy storage technology manufacturing for Indian market. Recently, Suzuki, Toshiba, Denso announced to form a JV (joint venture) to produce lithium-ion battery packs in India.
BHEL is also exploring the feasibility of manufacturing cells and batteries with technology developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). On January 2017, JSW chairman Sajjan Jindal said that his group will consider setting up a joint venture for making batteries in the longer term in India in an interview at the WEF in Davos.
In a recent interview Ajay Kumar Dixit, CEO, alumina and power business, Vedanta Ltd said that as part of its renewable energy strategy, Vedanta Resources is looking at developing battery storage solutions in India.
The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) v Asia-Pacific's largest national oil producer is also experimenting various advanced energy storage technologies and considering Li-Ion for trial purpose. If trials are successful, it may invest in battery production.
Last year, India's first experimental lithium-ion battery manufacturing lab open last year by Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI). It can produce 200-300 cells a day. Meanwhile, Enerrsto Solutions, a Chennai based firm, has signed a MoU with CECRI to start producing the lithium-ion batteries on a larger scale.
Apart from cell manufacturing initiatives, currently there are more than five companies who are manufacturing modules and packs in India with imported storage cells from China, South Korea and other parts of the world. There are 10-15 companies now evaluating the market to set up cell to module assembling plant in India.
Huge opportunity lies in the other segments of the business value chain. To make the ecosystem complete for large scale energy storage projects, there are huge opportunities for project developers, integrators, power electronics manufacturers or O&M contractors.
Many solar companies have already taken their first step in this regard and many of them are still evaluating the space. Currently IESA has over 60 companies as part of the alliance including technology manufacturers, power electronics providers, engineering firms and integrators, electric vehicle companies, renewable companies, micro-grid developers, PSUs, academic and research institutions, and testing and certification companies.
Recently IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has picked up an equity stake in Hero Future Energies, the renewable energy arm of the Hero Group. Sunil Jain, chief executive officer, Hero Future Energies said that this partnership will fuel ambitions to tap into the incredible opportunity that lies in both domestic and overseas markets as well as new technologies namely storage, hybrid projects among others.
According to Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director and chief executive of Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt, Ltd, solar generation along with storage makes good sense for setting up charging stations along the highways. Due to integration happening with EVs where storage is required, solar can be an ideal solution for the EV ecosystem. He added that Amplus is developing a battery storage system which can be used for EVs. Similarly, other companies are in continuous talk with IESA to expand their business vertical in energy storage space.
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