India Poised To Join Energy Storage Revolution

New demonstration and pilot projects are stimulating development of energy storage in India.
Published: Fri 29 Aug 2014

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Two recent announcements by India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Power Grid Corporation, in the words of Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, executive director of the India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), have poised the country to adopt the energy storage revolution.

Storage demonstrations and pilots

The announcement from MNRE is support for demonstration projects to assess the feasibility of energy storage technologies for both small-scale and grid-connected MW-scale renewable energy applications. Demonstrations will be supported in each of four categories:

● Integration of large-scale wind and solar generation into the transmission grid

● Rural microgrids

● Microgrids in commercial, industrial, residential, defence or other applications

● Large-scale stand-alone systems.

Aims include developing technical knowledge and economic and market insights as well as generating awareness amongst users, in order to formulate a focused program me for energy storage technologies.

Power Grid Corp’s announcement is for the supply of three battery energy storage systems using different technologies – advanced lead acid, lithium-ion and NANiCl2 /alkaline/flow – for pilot testing. The batteries of 250kWh capacity must be capable of providing 500kW of power for 30 minutes.

“Although this is just a beginning, I am excited about the potential of these projects to start a new direction for Indian electricity grid,” says Walawalkar, who is also VP, Emerging Technologies & Markets at Customized Energy Solutions, in an IESA news commentary.

15-20GW storage by 2020

Advanced energy storage systems are expected to play a key role in every part of the modern grid in India.

The country has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with current electricity generation capacity of about 230GW to meet the needs of an over 1.25 billion population. However, the per capita annual energy consumption at around 600kWh is one of the lowest in the world. Further power supply is often of poor quality and unreliable. There is also a need to provide energy access to the over 400 million households that still lack basic access to electricity.

The energy storage market in India is in its infancy (the IESA website lists 18 projects in operation or under construction, more than half pumped hydro storage). A recent market study by IESA suggests a potential of 15-20 GW by 2020.

Policy drivers for energy storage

Other recent government initiatives highlighted by Walawalkar that will drive the development of storage and microgrids include:

● A rapid adoption of clean energy technologies with the anticipated addition of 30-50GW of new wind capacity and 20-30GW of solar capacity by 2020.

● The various initiatives for providing energy access where the government of India provides up to 90% of the capital funding for building microgrids in rural areas with no access to electricity.

● The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has mandated use of renewable power for telecom towers in India that are currently utilizing diesel power as primary source of energy.