The real game-changer for India's ambitious solar programme can be a cost-effective battery storage model
New Delhi: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Tesla Motors Inc. in Palo Alto in California this month, he may seek answers to the conundrum that has been confounding the Indian solar electricity planners for long—storage.
Solar electricity can only be generated during daytime, and to use it at night, an effective storage solution is required. India is fit for solar power generation given that the country receives solar radiation of 5 to 7 (kWh) per sq. m for 300-330 days in a year.
With India unveiling the world’s most ambitious solar power generation programme, the real game-changer can be a cost-effective battery storage model for Indian conditions. With Tesla, headed by Elon Musk, already offering solutions such as Tesla Powerwall—a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level—Modi’s itinerary fits with his government’s plan of adding 100,000MW of solar power by 2022. Of these, 40,000MW each is planned from roof-top and distributed generation projects.
The real problem for storage here are the costs. While ₹ 5 per kWh tariff for solar electricity is the new norm in India, the Tesla Powerwall battery’s “selling price to installers is $3500 for 10kWh and $3000 for 7kWh". This doesn’t include the inverter and installation costs.
According to Tesla, it “is not just an automotive company, it’s an energy innovation company. Tesla Energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero emission power generation. With Tesla Energy, Tesla is amplifying its efforts to accelerate the move away from fossil fuels to a sustainable energy future with Tesla batteries, enabling homes, business, and utilities to store sustainable and renewable energy."
Modi will address a Renewable Energy Roundtable with the US department of commerce and Stanford University on 26 September, the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement on Sunday.
Mint reported on 14 September about Modi’s plan to take part in a roundtable discussion on green energy when he visits the US to attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York.
The roundtable is being organized by the ministry of external affairs against the backdrop of a World Trade Organization panel ruling against India in a dispute raised by the US over the country’s solar power programme.
Experts believe that lithium-ion batteries are expected to be the leading technology for grid-connected, utility-scale systems over the next two-three years, with the grid-connected battery energy storage system market expected to increase from $0.46 billion revenue in 2014 to reach $8.30 billion in 2024.
“The grid-connected utility-scale battery storage market is expanding rapidly, driven by impressive technological breakthroughs and growth in manufacturing capabilities," consulting firm Frost and Sullivan said in an 18 September statement.
Modi, who will be in the US during 24-29 September, is expected to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York after which he will travel to Silicon Valley in California. He will address the Indian-American community at the SAP Center in San Jose on 27 September. While in Silicon Valley, he is also expected to meet the heads of major technology companies.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has made energy security a key policy priority since taking office in May 2014. Its emphasis on solar and wind power is expected to strengthen India’s standing at global climate change negotiations that culminate in the Paris summit.
India’s solar foray has caught the world’s attention.
Before the 2 October launch of its Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report, Paris-based International Energy Agency in a statement said: “Supported by policies aimed at enhancing energy security and sustainability, renewable power expanded at its fastest rate to date in 2014 and now represents more than 45% of overall supply additions. Deployment continues to shift towards energy-hungry emerging markets, and some countries, such as China and India, have bolstered ambitions."
In India, which is the biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the US and China, renewable energy currently accounts for only 13%, or 36,471 megawatts (MW), of India’s total installed power capacity of 2,75,912MW.