Indian Solar Companies are eying to diversify their business into energy storage space

At the end of last fiscal year 2016-17India crossed 12.2 GW of cumulative solar installations and still a way to go toachieve the ambitious target of 100 GW by 2022.Recently Honourable Minister of New and Renewable energy Shri Piyush Goyal said that India has plans to add 5 GW of rooftop solar and 10 GW from large scale solar power projects in the current fiscal year.

To achieve the overall 100 GW of solar target, grid stability will be the major challenges for the Indian grid operators. Apart from grid level issues, solar ramping and smoothing of output will create challenges to the plant owner. For islands like Andaman, which are currently dependent on diesel generators as primary source of electricity and government have the plan to add 100 MW solar to the Island, might face the issue of power balancing and solar variability. Solar generation is inherently intermittent and supply may create very large instantaneous ramps. The problem will be accentuated in islands, where currently diesel generators are used for providing base load as well as balancing service.

Solar power looks great when the sun shines, but stops at sunset. The operating hours are limited to thedaytime, when the load is low for consumers.Due to which conventional thermal generators have to remain idle during the day. But when power demand soars to its morning and evening peak, solar production is almost negligible. This creates a higher ramp in the morning and evening for the grid.A similar situation has beenforecasted for California for 2020 and it’s popularly known as California Duck curve.But for India the situation might beserious than California. As per POSOCO (POWER SYSTEM OPERATION CORPORATION LIMITED) analysis, IESA predicted that Indian load curve in 2022 could be a camel curve.The situation will be worse with the electric vehicle charging behaviour (evening and morning charging pattern). India has a target of 5-6 million of electric vehicles to run on the road by 2020. Through FAME-India Scheme under NEMMP (National Electric Mobility Mission Plan), the Government provides subsidies to manufacturers of electric vehicles.Instead of Camel Load Curve, India might see a Giraffe Load Curve in the future.

As the side effect of the large addition of solar to the grid and a far bigger problem is that solar power is given preference/priority for dispatch under NEP (National Energy Policy) when supply exceeds demand, so thermal plants have to back down. The plant load factor (PLF) or capacity utilisation of coal-based plants was 76% six years ago, but is now it is reduced to 58%. With addition of more solar in the grid, it might create critical situation to operational thermal plant and their PLF.

Apart from grid connected large scale solar, solar installed in off-grid and microgrid system required energy storage (Battery) as an essential part of the full system. For shifting of solar and to provide energy at non-generating hours, batteries are used across the globe and also in rural parts of India, where, energy access is an issue.

India Energy storage Alliance (IESA), the leading energy storage alliance in India works with various stakeholders in India to promote energy storage technologies and applications since 2012. IESA worked with various ministries like, MNRE, MoP and government bodies like CEA, CERC, BIS to create a robust energy storage ecosystem in India. IESA is the part of “MNRE standing committee on Energy storage & Hybrids Solutions” since 2014 and IESA also helped USAID to create and release a draft “National Energy storage Roadmap” for India in 2015. In 2016, IESA was part of the committee created by MoP and chaired by CEA to create a report on “Large Scale Integration of Renewable Energy & Deviation Settlement Mechanism”. Last month IESA organised a stakeholder consultation in association with FICCI on CERC Staff paper on “Introduction on Electricity Storage in India”. Recently IESA has also initiated the work with BIS on energy Storage standards for India. Last year IESA launched 3 focused working groups on Policy, Technology and Finance. Through quarterly Working group meetings, IESA team and its members try to address business challenges related to government policies and technology due-diligence and financing & funding options.

India already floated 46 MW + large scale energy storage projects last years and expecting 100 MW + projects for this year.Six Solar plus energy storage project by SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India) was floated last year for Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In 2017, CEL also floated and completed the tendering process for a 1 MW of energy storage project for solar. Recently BHEL also completed the call for EOI (Expression of Interest) for Li-Ion technologies for a few pilot projects. The Government is planning to float a tender to set up Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) power plants with energy storage in two sites of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to replace 47 MW of diesel-run generation capacity. These two power plants have energy storage (battery) of 25 MW capacity. In April 2017, Indian home minister Shri Rajnath Singh has laid the foundation stone for 25MW of PV projects in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.These include a 17MW plant at Manglutan, near Guptapara Village and 8MW at Chidiyatapu in South Andaman District.The solar projects were the first to be tendered by NTPC to be combined with energy storage – although energy storage is tendered separately. Rajasthan Electronics &Instruments Ltd. (REIL) and Indian Oil Corporation is also assigned to undertake Pilot projects on solar integrated energy storage project by MNRE, Govt. of India.

Apart from government bodies, this year we are expecting few large scale projects from Industries and Commercial establishments (Malls, Hotels, Hospitals, IT Offices, and resorts etc.) for solar integrated energy storage projects for captive consumptions.  As a leading alliance in the energy storage sector, IESAis getting queries from various Industries to set up solar plus battery plants from KW to MW capacities.

Currently Many MNC’s and Indian companies are considering to enter advanced energy storage technology manufacturing for Indian market. Recently,Suzuki, Toshiba, Denso announced to form a JV (joint venture) to produce lithium-ion battery packs in India.BHEL is also exploring the feasibility of manufacturing cells and batteries with technology developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). On January 2017, JSW chairman Sajjan Jindal says his group will consider setting up a joint venture for making batteries in the longer term in India in an interview at the WEF in Davos.In a recent interview Mr. Ajay Kumar Dixit, CEO, alumina and power business, Vedanta Ltd said that as part of its renewable energy strategy, Vedanta Resources is looking at developing battery storage solutions in India. The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) – Asia-Pacific’s largest national oil producer is also experimenting various advanced energy storage technologies and considering Li-Ion for trial purpose. If trials are successful, it may invest in battery production.Last year, India’s first experimental lithium-ion battery manufacturing lab open last year by Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI). It can produce 200-300 cells a day. Meanwhile, Enerrsto Solutions, a Chennai based firm, has signed a MoU with CECRI to start producing the lithium-ion batteries on a larger scale. Apart from cell manufacturing initiatives, currently there are more than five companies who are manufacturing modules and packs in India with imported storage cells from China, South Korea and other parts of the world. Through IESA networking events, we get to know that ten to fifteen companies are now evaluating the market to set up cell to module assembling plant in India.

Apart from manufacturing there is a huge opportunity lies in the other segments of the business value chain. To make the ecosystem complete for large scale energy storage projects, there are huge opportunities to be a project developer, integrator, power electronics manufacturer or O&M contractor.

Many solar companies have already taken their first step in this regard and many of them are still evaluating the space. Currently IESA has over 60+ companies as part of the alliance including technology manufacturers (Lead Acid, Adv. Lead Acid, Li-Ion, Flow Batteries, Sodium basedbatteries, alkaline batteries and thermal storage, ultra capacitors), power electronics (Inverters, BMs, PCS) providers, engineering firms & integrators, electric vehicle companies, renewable companies, microgrid developers, PSUs, academic & research institutions and testing & certification companies. Currently IESA has various renewable companies like Vikram solar, Hero Future Energies, First Solar, Juwi Renewables, Sun Clean, SolaireDirect, L&T, ACME, Prayas, Om Sai Renewable, Continuum Energy, Relyon Solar, Grass Root Energy, Gram Oorja, and others as part of the alliance. Through IESA many of these companies are eyeing to enter energy storage ecosystem to get an early mover advantage.

Recently IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has picked up an equity stake in Hero Future Energies, the renewable energy arm of the Hero Group.  Mr. Sunil Jain, chief executive officer, Hero Future Energies said: “This partnership will fuel our ambitions to tap into the incredible opportunity that lies in both domestic and overseas markets as well as new technologies namely storage, hybrid projects among others.”“Solar generation along with storage makes good sense for setting up charging stations along the highways. Due to integration happening with EVs where storage is required, solar can be an ideal solution for the EV ecosystem. Amplus is developing a battery storage system which can be used for EVs,” said Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director and chief executive of Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd. Similarly, other companies are in continuous talk with IESA to expand their business vertical in energy storage space.

Last week, IESA organised “Energy storage for solar applications in India” webinar for its members to enter Indian energy storage space. Many Indian and Global solar players attended the webinar and shown their interest in the Indian market. As part of various initiatives taken by IESA, IESA launched an India toll free Number (India Energy Storage Hot Line: 1800-123-3519) to help queries on battery applications, technologies andbusiness. At IESA’s last annual conference “Energy Storage India”, Hon’ble Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu said “Renewable Energy integration with storage will be part of the wider picture in realizing India’s commitments towards climate change mitigation in its INDC”.

IESA’s vision is to make India a global leader in energy storage & microgrid technology adoption and hub for manufacturing of these emerging technologies by 2020. IESA’s mission is to make energy sector in India more competitive and efficient by creating awareness among various stakeholders in the industry and by promoting information exchange with the end users. IESA also provides insights to technology developers, original equipment manufacturers and system integrators on the policy landscape and business opportunities in India through frequent interaction with all key stakeholders. Visit IESA


Mr. Debi Prasad Dash

Director- India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), Customized Energy Solutions

Mob-9699719818, Email:

Debi Prasad Dash is currently working the Director, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) at Customized Energy Solutions. He has been involved in techno-commercial feasibility, financial modelling & analysis and consulting in emerging technology areas like energy storage, renewable integration, smart grid and microgrids. He is involved in policy recommendations for the energy storage roadmap for India, manufacturing policy for advanced energy storage technologies and development of ancillary markets in India. Debi has over 7 years of industry experience and worked with over 100+ clients in various capacities. Debi is a part of other industry associations like IEEE, IEEE-Smart Grid Working Community, PES, SESI, IGEF (Sub Group 4).


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