How Energy Storage Can Facilitate Solar Integration

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In India, with the ever-rising fossil fuel imports and rapid urbanization choking many cities with harmful pollution, the need for adoption of clean energy became more a compulsion than a choice. India is moving rapidly towards RE. With increased investments and clean energy installations, as well as the world’s largest renewables auction market, today we rank no. 2 after Chile as per 2018 Climatescope report by Bloomberg NEF. India has surpassed Japan to become the world’s third-largest market for solar power, and is projected to claim the number two spot from the United States later this year. Storing energy is as crucial as generating renewable energy. Essential to the successful growth of RE and EVs is energy storage.

If we really want to achieve the proud tag of global renewables powerhouse, we have to become the global leader in energy storage. A clear and ambitious strategic roadmap along with decisive action is required to take the lead on the energy storage front.

India is aggressive looking to add 227 GW of renewable energy capacity by March 2022 and is aiming to achieve 100 GW of solar energy capacity by 2022.The challenges for India in meeting its ambitious target are the ability of the grid to integrate variability associated with renewables, as well as the huge investment required to upgrade the transmission and distribution infrastructure. The solution lies in advance energy storage that can help to better integrate these renewables by providing multiple values to the system, such as optimizing T&D investments, addressing forecasting errors in wind and solar generation for more accurate scheduling, addressing local reliability issues by providing reactive power support, and enabling end users to manage peak load, and more efficient utilization of distributed renewables.

With the rapid reduction in cost of both solar and storage, customers can see solar + storage as alternative for peak power from grid. At the same time, utilities can avoid investments in Peaker capacity or eliminate load shedding by utilizing these resources. This transition is supported by significant push for Giga factories for advanced energy storage technologies such as li-ion that is driving down the cost of energy storage at a pace even faster than the solar PV cost reductions witnessed in past decade. Grid scale energy storage projects have witnessed costs to fall below $300 / kWh from over $1000 / kWh just 5-6 years back. It is anticipated that with scale up of deployment and also setting up of local manufacturing we can witness further reduction by at least 20-30 % with in next 3-5 years. As a result we are seeing range of projects at 100s of MWh scale getting implemented globally from US, Europe, China, Japan, Australia and even in South East Asia.

Through the fast scale up of solar anticipated under National Solar Mission, energy storage can play a critical roles in India. Firstly, energy storage would be required for smoothing of the short duration intermittency caused by cloud / dust and secondly it can provide options to shift solar energy for 2-4 hrs. Per day to meet the evening demand.

Globally, energy storage is being increasingly seen as an alternative to build peak power plants. Reserve energy storage systems are also capable of providing black start operations. Energy storage integrated with RE generates a smooth and firm output that is controllable, which subsequently reduces transmission congestion. It also has the potential to reduce the size of transmission and distribution infrastructure for the evacuation of intermittent generation. A key application for energy storage in transmission is to defer the investments on the upgrade for new capacity projects to overcome congestion.

The National Electricity Plan (NEP) highlights the role of energy storage in maintaining grid security with increasing penetration of RE in addition to addressing the intermittency of RE to a large extent. At the consumer’s end, energy storage can be used as a back-up power while reducing the use of diesel consumption and integrating with solar rooftop PV systems, as well as a standalone back-up for reducing demand charges.

India is fast becoming the global hub for the largest of solar parks. India has approved plans for 14 solar parks larger than Solar Star. Most of them lie in India’s northern deserts and southern parts. Through the right policy support, large scale solar parks with 100 MW and above could easily integrate energy storage to help improve the power quality and reliability issues that grid can face with rapid integration of solar energy.

With the rapid adoption of solar energy in India, there is a strong need for exploring the role of energy storage for facilitating solar integration. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is launching a National Energy Storage Mission for addressing the needs for energy storage at transmission level for ultra-mega solar parks, at distribution level to increase adoption of roof top solar and campus microgrids as well as for off grid systems for energy access. Under the proposed National Energy Storage Mission (NESM), the government would soon release policy with a focus on ‘Make in India’ and the government is planning to take all possible measures to incentivize advanced energy storage manufacturing in India.

NESM also addresses the issues related to the raw materials available for manufacturing and the government had already started discussions with resource rich countries such as Bolivia and Australia. The Indian government has already extended a red carpet welcome to US-based storage, solar and EV specialist Tesla to set up a Gigafactory in India. There are similar discussions ongoing with a few other major manufacturers.

Apart from Li-ion technology, India must look into other emerging technologies like flow, sodium-air, zinc-air, and aluminum-air batteries. IESA’s vision is to make India a global leader in the adoption of energy storage, micro grids and EVs. We are consistently working with industry and policy makers to make India a global hub for manufacturing of these emerging technologies by 2020. We have also set a goal of reducing the cost of electricity from micro grids in India by 30% to 50% in the next 3 years and are working to bring together various stakeholders to achieve this dream.

Energy Storage is the enabling link between solar, EVs and grid. In 2019 a lot of moving and rapid change in the market is expected. The need of the hour is to shift our focus from discussions to action and immediate implementation of some large scale projects. We are confident that with platforms like Energy Storage India 2019, energy storage ecosystem will also get newer avenues, thought exchange and effective roadmaps for advanced energy storage technologies, regulatory and policy issues, renewable integration, future of solar power in India, make in India, rural microgrid and off grid and a lot more. Consumers also need large level of awareness and must realize the long lasting positive effects and accept & adopt alternative energy solutions. Government and Industry together can develop a favorable investment scenario to build a storage system for dependable energy distribution.

iesa


Author: Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, Executive Director, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA); Chair, Global Energy Storage Alliance (GESA) and President & MD, Customized Energy Solutions (India)

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