Policy-makers in India are pushing ahead with a draft National Energy Storage Mission that calls for grid-connected energy storage, a supportive regulatory framework, and made-in-India batteries.
While “renewable energy sources now make up almost one-fifth of India’s total installed power capacity,” states the paper to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, “the peak supply of renewable sources does not always meet peak demand.” Government analysts are also concerned about the problem of intermittency, MNRE Senior Scientist P.C. Pant told The Hindu.
In response, “the draft sets a ‘realistic target’ of 15 to 20 gigawatt hours (GWh) of grid-connected storage within the next five years,” said India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) Director Debi Prasad Dash.
But the need to store surplus energy during peak generation times is not the only pressing issue. Batteries are “more immediately needed to stabilize the grid when shifting between renewables and the baseload thermal capacity,” Pant stated. “Once the installed capacity of renewables reaches 100 GW [from the current 65 GW], it will become critical to incorporate storage options.”
Reliability issues are also a focus for Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), which “expects to issue tenders for grid-connected storage by the end of the year,” said Managing Director Jatindra Nath Swain. “For its own 160-MW plant in Andhra Pradesh, SECI will issue tenders for a storage option by the end of July,” he told the Hindu. Other industry participants are skeptical, noting that the SECI “cancelled at least nine earlier tenders for grid storage in 2017,” the paper notes.
Such serial cancellations “send a negative signal both to global manufacturers and Indian companies who are looking to diversify into lithium ion battery manufacturing,” Dash said, adding that “the Central Electricity Authority is considering regulation to make storage mandatory for large-scale solar projects ranging between 100 and 200 MW.” Swain said the cancellations occurred when electricity distributors became concerned about storage triggering price spikes. Rashi Gupta, director of battery pack-maker Vision Mechatronics, said it’s important to factor in life cycle costs, as well as the impact distributors face due to grid instability and transmission and distribution losses.
Betting that distributors will respond to this line of argument, The Hindu says major lithium ion cell producers, including Indian Oil Corporation and Exide, “are working to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity.” The National Energy Storage Mission, which includes an effort to encourage that capacity, is expected to be released for public comment within the next few months.