The Indian electric grid is now certain to have over a 100GW of renewable energy (RE) even under the worst case scenario by 2022 (CEA, 2016). It would mean over 25% of the installed capacity being intermittent and hence there is a need to build flexible assets to compliment them. The enthusiastic industry participation at the Energy Storage India-2017 clearly hinted that the industry is gearing up to address this huge market.

Technology

Although the key industry trend is to shift to Lithium ion technology, the Indian market is still energized by lead acid batteries. The Indian battery market, of which over 90% is lead acid based, is growing by over 10% year by year. Indian research institutes today have Lithium ion prototyping facilities and are working on the 3rd generation of the technology. IIT-Bombay declared that it has two patents under review for the same. “The real question is if the industry has picked up on the research and resulted in commercialization?”

On the global scale, the number of research publications and commercialization have been on the rise with the focus now shifting to lithium-sulphur batteries. Ultra-capacitors is another technology that has potential with TEEMP Inc. indicating their intent to setup facility in India to power the Hybrid Electric Vehicle mission of the country. Thermal energy storage powered by the Phase Change Material (PCM) technology is seen as the next big thing to increase energy efficiency of commercial HVAC systems.

Policy and Regulatory

The current drivers in terms of regulations is very low for storage projects. The forecasting, scheduling and deviation settlement mechanism could aid the market if the prices are lucrative. Storage projects should be treated as a flexible asset and should be added to the fleet of balancing power plants. At the government level, CEA has hinted at evaluating storage as part of the balancing services shortly. There was a consensus that co-benefits through market mechanisms would be the key enabler for energy storage in India.

The Market

The market currently is driven by the inverter backup assets, as one of industry leaders indicated that close to 5-6GWh of energy storage has been sold annually in the last decade in this segment. The next big market currently is the telecom sector which is witnessing a switch from lead acid batteries to lithium ion technology. Although a nascent market, Electric Vehicles (EV) is likely to see big gains in the next couple of years owing to the launch of new models of passenger vehicles including variants of Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV). In comparison to these sectors, storage integration for RE generation looks small but has significant potential as the RE share increases.

Projects

The market for large scale energy storage projects has just opened up. The first phase is witnessing a number of demonstration projects being undertaken by the Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) are gearing up with couple of large scale energy storage projects for the Andaman Islands. The recently concluded 2×2.5MWh SECI tender saw 13 bid submissions. From the private sector AES energy followed up with its maiden India project with Panasonic last year with another 10MWh project, this time with Mitsubishi and Tata Power Delhi Distribution to provide peak management and flexibility in the Delhi distribution network. A major announcement at the event was Ecoult’s partnership with Exide industries to manufacture ultra-batteries in India. A few other firms announced their portfolio expansion to assemble Li-ion batteries in India. These partnerships align with the Make in India initiative of the Govt.

Overall, as the international panel concluded a level playing field in storage needs a few issues to be resolved and energy storage should be the 4thcolumn of electricity market design. The market has just started to open up in India for energy storage and as one of the business heads remarked “The Indian market has caught the tail of energy storage elephant and hopefully with declining prices a bigger market is created every year and the whole elephant is seen”.

This article was originally posted here.

Image credits: Girish Shivakumar; Brahma Kumaris/Flickr

About The Author

Girish Shivakumar

Girish Shivakumar, a clean technology evangelist, is based in Mumbai, India. He's a graduate of Cambridge.