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STORAGE AND SMART SOLAR TECHNOLOGIES

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STORAGE AND SMART SOLAR TECHNOLOGIES
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Mr. Chintan Bhalla, Director, Business Development, Puneng Energy
 
Tracing the technological progress of Energy storage in India, could the next big technological revolution be in the storage of solar energy?
 
Solar PV rates are all time low. Today we are looking at over 300 GW of Solar PV installed in the world which in increasing multiple folds every passing year. After such large scale deployment of PV and Wind farms, it's only logical and matter of time that  'storage-revolution' is going to take the industry by storm.  I feel lowering our dependency on fossil fuel and moving towards renewable energy and storage per say is the only way forward which will help reduce our carbon footprint and slow down the global warming which is increasing at alarming rate. 
 
How are you gearing up for this technological revolution?     
 
We at VRB Energy are already underway and are setting up new facility in Indian and second one in China. We have been overwhelmed by the response we received from within India and other countries like Australia and UAE.  Thus, we are left with no other choice than to ramp up our production to cater to Grid, Off-Grid applications especially the MW Class systems to curb the problem people faced by people in terms of power-outage and general load shedding which is still prominent in many parts of our country.  
 
What are the challenges that the sector is fronting? 
 
Biggest challenge we face is that we still are in the phase of educating people as Renewable energy in it self in a new concept and Energy storage, types of storage solution available, its life span etc. its all a new concept for people from even within the Industry. Our govt. is trying to encourage people to use and implement such energy storage solutions, however, still in the process of formulating rules & regulation and guidelines to offer and implement such storage options. It would be great if our govt. offers any rebate which would encourage people to come forward and adopt storage which undoubtedly is the 'talk of the town' within New and Renewable Energy sector.  I am sure people will come around soon and there is no doubt there is big future for Every Storage in India and rest of the world. 
 
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Mr. Anil Chutani ,Vice President, ACME 
Tracing the technological progress of Energy storage in India, could the next big technological revolution be in the storage of solar energy?
 
Lithium Battery is the new storage technology after Lead Acid that is slated to grow very fast in the coming years. Currently, these are being deployed  for various applications  such as Home lighting Solutions, Microgrid/ MiniGrid and some of EV’s (Electric Vehicles) applications (2/3/W only) though the mass is yet to come. There are mainly 3 components in Lithium Battery – Lithium Cells, BMS and Balance of Plant (Such as bus bars, switchgear, Sensors, packaging etc). Lithium cells are not manufactured now in India as the current volume does not justify the investments. Many companies have developed their BMS and making battery packs with imported cells. BHEL is reportedly planning to setup Lithium Cells manufacturing line in India using ISRO technology of Lithium Cells. It will be a good initiative and wish it success. 
 
Indeed, Energy Storage System (ESS) is going to be the next big market using Solar Energy. Current cost of ESS is high, thus it can be economically used only for improving quality of Power such as frequency regulation, peak load shifting etc and not for supplying power during non solar hours. However, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has forecasted rapid decline in Lithium battery cost and by 2025 the same is expected to decrease to $73/kwh from the current $250/kwh. In parallel solar power tariff, considering technological innovations, is likely to reach below Rs 2/Kwh.
 
At $73/kwh cost of battery and Rs2/kwh as solar tariff, the resultant storage power tariff would be below Rs 3/kwh. Low power tariff will create big market for ESS. We see this imminently happening within 5-6 years.
 
After use in Electric Vehicles, Lithium battery can be used for storage application and power supply. The cost of such power would further get reduced as cost of battery would have been recovered. 
How are you gearing up for this technological revolution?
 
ACME has been exploring various storage technologies since the last few years. We have strong R&D team and have developed in house BMS (Battery Management System) for stationary and EV Batteries.  We have in house Lithium battery pack test and validation setup. Besides, we have also setup Lithium Battery pack assembly line in our Rudrapur factory with annual capacity of 350MWH. Currently we have developed Lithium Battery Packs and solutions for Stationary and EV (2/3W) applications. The plan is to expand the annual capacity to 2 – 3 GWH in next couple of years.
 
What are the challenges that the sector is fronting?
 
The biggest challenge is the current lack of demand. We believe Grid Scale Storage and Electric Vehicle can be, inter alia, big market for ESS and government can play very important role in creating demand through market driven policies. Government should include ESS in the upcoming solar tenders and make it mandatory for every solar power plant. This will help Solar IPPs in reducing penalties.  As the cost of storage and solar power get reduced as expected, every solar plant will necessarily set up ESS for grid balancing and supplying power during non – solar hours. This will be the biggest contributor for reduction of Carbon Emission.
 
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Dr. Chris D’couto,CEO,XNRGI NEAH Power Systems India Pvt. Ltd.
 
Tracing the technological progress of Energy storage in India, could the next big technological revolution be in the storage of solar energy?
 
When the sun doesn’t shine? The world we live in operates 24/7, battery storage technologies are emerging as a critical part of the solution to increase access to electricity in conjunction with solar PV in solar home systems, as well as providing stability services to mini-grids, improving the power quality and increasing the potential share of variable renewables in such remote grids. XNRGI is on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of energy storage in history. The lithium battery technology is at the crossroads. The fundamental limitations and outdated electrode manufacturing methods have considerably slowed down the progress. The expected improvements in performance have not happened and the hope for breakthroughs towards new active materials is not likely. A battery is considered the weakest link in many flourishing applications such as electrical vehicles and other mobile applications; and the obstacle towards widespread proliferation of groundbreaking devices. And while the battery industry stagnates, the next 4th industrial revolution will not wait, and it desperately demands a better, lighter, and cheaper portable power source that scales across ever increasing energy storage needs from transport, consumer electronics to the grid. The electrical vehicle application in particular is on a high trajectory towards completely taking over the vehicle industry, but it needs a battery that will match the demand. Present battery technology is not capable of manufacturing scale to meet the demands of the application in terms of energy density, cycle life, safety or cost.
 
“India’s total demand for energy will more than double by 2030, while electricity demand will almost triple This assumes sufficient uptake to double the share of renewables in the global energy mix in less than a decade and a half. With growing demand for electricity storage from stationary and mobile applications, the total stock of electricity storage capacity will need to grow more than 150%, from an estimated 4.67 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2017 to 12 TWh or more by 2030.”  
IRENA 2017 Energy Storage Report
How are you gearing up for this technological revolution?
 
The XNRGI (exponential energy) battery technology concept is based on a porous silicon substrate that will become the ultimate pathway towards achieving the goal of superior battery performance in a scalable manufacturing form to meet the demands of an ever-growing energy storage market in batteries.  This is a novel approach for constructing electrodes and manufacturing batteries. The three-dimensional, porous structures enable several times better energies, larger number of cycles, elimination of the safety problems, and lower cost. The concept is based not on some exotic or mysterious new material, but on the well-known silicon, used in computer chips and driving or controlling practically everything in modern life. For batteries, silicon is used in form of porous wafers – the three-dimensional porous structure that enables improvements in every battery property. We have taken the idea of simultaneously improving all fundamental prosperities of batteries by using a porous conductive substrate in silicon and demonstrated the exceptional performance that is 3 to 6 times that of traditional batteries.  The semiconductor industry has been a dominant driving force behind modern technology advancement for the last five decades. If one needs to point to a single reason for this dominance, without a doubt, that would be a permanent evolution in manufacturing and semiconductor industry’s ability to innovate again and again with high volume manufacturing and achieve double win - low cost and improved performance.
 
What are the challenges that the sector is fronting?
 
High Capital Cost to Manufacture, Safety, Energy Performance Density, Installation and Integration, Efficiency, Scalability, Flexibility, Cycle Life, but most importantly Cost. Cost is key driver for all storage applications. Low cost batteries will enable 27/7 clean energy for solar.
 
The complexity of combinations possible between different anodes and cathodes in lithium battery systems makes it difficult to discuss the shortcomings of various batteries in general terms. But, we’ll try to point to main sources of problems that affect the performance or safety of these batteries. First, we define the performance as a totality of the following main battery characteristics*:
1.    Energy density:  the amount of energy stored per volume or weight.
2.    Power density: the ability to deliver current per volume or weight. The ability to accept current is related to charging time.
3.    Cycle life: number of cycles that a battery can deliver a useful capacity, typically 80% of the nominal or starting capacity.
4.    Safety: the ability to reduce the probability of a catastrophic battery failure with violent outcome such as fire or explosion.
5.    Manufacturing: cost, capacity and time to implementation. 
 
XNRGI battery electrode technology is a perfectly scalable platform model. Flexible, Tunable, Low Cost, Safe,  High Volume Manufacturing Model. The based unit or size produced is a 200 mm wafer. For applications that require larger power, full wafer electrodes can be assembled into stacks, while for smaller electrodes wafers would be cut (or diced) into any size required. 
 
With every aspect of performance improved, the XNRGI battery concept is easily the most important battery innovation in the recent history of lithium batteries.  By merging the battery industry with the silicon processing industry, the technology has the potential to harness numerous performance improvement pathways and provide a battery that will keep improving. The structure of porous silicon is extremely versatile and provides a platform, which can be continuously improved with other innovations from the battery field or semiconductor field. This is not a stagnant or limited concept; on the contrary the possibilities are almost endless towards further improvements.
 
 
 
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