Power Grid eyes electric vehicle play
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Enthused by the market potential for electric vehicles (EV) in India, state-owned Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd (PGCIL), the power transmission utility responsible for establishing green energy transmission corridors, is considering setting up charging stations for EVs.
The public sector unit is also exploring commercially viable energy storage solutions such as batteries that would help with grid stability—the balance between production and consumption.
“We are working on developing an EV business. The idea is to store the surplus electricity generated by solar in these batteries. We are exploring setting up charging infrastructure which will help the national grid,” said a senior Power Grid executive, requesting anonymity.
“The next big play is EV and storage. Our role is to be of a catalyst. We are exploring entering the EV charging business,” the executive added.
Power Grid’s proposed electric vehicle programme would help with grid balancing, besides complementing the government’s push for solar power, which is generated during the day and can be stored in EV batteries.
Power Grid is the third state-owned utility eyeing the EV business after NTPC Ltd and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel). NTPC has been working to help create demand for the electricity generated by its plants, Mint reported in March. (bit.ly/2mrPfsO)
Bhel, India’s largest power generation equipment maker, wants to manufacture electric vehicles such as buses, cars, two-wheelers and boats. (bit.ly/2kPf03a)
“We are looking at three different battery technologies—advanced lead acid, lithium ion and flow ion and how they behave in the Indian conditions along with being economical. We are technology agnostic. It can be another business area,” added the Power Grid executive quoted above.
India plans to generate 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this, 100GW is to come from solar power projects. With storage being the next frontier for India’s clean energy push from sources such as solar, the batteries in EVs offer a solution.
A PGCIL spokesperson confirmed the development and said, “We are exploring the possibilities.”
With 134,750 circuit kilometres and 217 substations, Power Grid caters to national grid’s inter-regional electricity transmission capacity of 75,000MW. Power Grid also owns and operates around 36,500km of telecom network. The PSU has gross fixed assets of Rs1,65,757 crore and posted a net profit of Rs5,604 crore for the first nine months of the current financial year.
Piyush Goyal, India’s power, coal, mines and new and renewable energy minister, said on Monday that battery storage efforts are being helped through the government’s EV policy.
Experts believe EVs are a good business opportunity. “Electric vehicles, or clean transportation, is the need of the hour in the polluted Indian cities,” said Reji Kumar Pillai, president and chief executive officer of India Smart Grid Forum, a public-private partnership of the power ministry.
Pillai said large fleets of EVs connected to the electric grid can be aggregated as virtual power plants for managing supply-demand imbalances on the grid.
“Another very interesting option is the secondary use of retired batteries from electric vehicles for building GW scale energy storage to support the grid with increasing share of renewable,” Pillai said.
Any shift to electric vehicles will help reduce pollution and fuel imports. India’s energy import bill is expected to double from around $150 billion to $300 billion by 2030. The government has been trying to push sales of electric vehicles and has set an ambitious target of selling six million by 2020.