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Home / Industry / Energy /  India’s global pursuit of storing solar energy, eyes Tesla model

NEW DELHI : India plans to study models deployed by global companies such as Tesla Inc. for setting up integrated solar roof and battery storage systems, said two government officials aware of the development, as New Delhi seeks to accelerate its push to reduce dependence on costly oil imports.

“The issue is being discussed within the government and is important from an energy security viewpoint," said a senior government official, one of the two cited above, requesting anonymity.  This comes against the backdrop of the country’s unfolding energy transition wherein the Clean Cooking Mission is looking to leverage rooftop solar and in-house battery infrastructure to provide uninterrupted electricity to about 250 million households. Also, cushioning energy supply shocks has been a vital part of India’s national security strategy as amplified by events such as the Russia-Ukraine war that has led global energy prices to rise sharply. India imports 85% of its crude oil and 53% of gas requirements.

Any shift towards solar energy as domestic cooking fuel will help in energy import substitution and trim India’s hefty energy import bill while promoting the domestic solar industry. As part of the ongoing push towards renewable energy, the FY23 union budget presented last month made an additional allocation of 19,500 crore for the marquee production linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing of high-efficiency solar modules. This is in addition to the 4,500 crore PLI scheme for solar photo voltaic modules that was announced earlier.

Queries emailed to a spokesperson of the power ministry on Saturday remained unanswered.

Tesla, China’s BYD Co. Ltd and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL) were among companies that had shown initial interest in the Indian plan to build large factories for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.

A total of 10 companies, including Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd, Hyundai Global Motors Company Ltd, Ola Electric Mobility Pvt. Ltd, Lucas-TVS Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, Amara Raja Batteries Ltd, Exide Industries Ltd, Rajesh Exports Ltd, Larsen and Toubro Ltd and India Power Corporation Ltd had submitted bids for selection under PLI scheme for manufacturing Advance Chemistry Cells (ACCs) of 50 GWh capacity.

After evaluation of the bids, the government approved the proposals of Ola Electric Mobility, Hyundai Global Motors Co., Rajesh Exports Ltd, and Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd as reported by Mint.

India, the world’s third-largest oil importer, has been trying to cut its reliance on energy imports given that it spent $62.71 billion on crude imports in 2020-21, $101.4 billion in 2019-20 and $111.9 billion in 2018-19. The cost of the Indian basket of crude, which averaged $60.47 and $44.82 per barrel in FY20 and FY21, respectively, climbed to $94.07 in February, according to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC). The average price was $113.41 a barrel on 22 March. The Indian basket represents the average of Oman, Dubai and Brent crude.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the COP26 summit in Glasgow last November to cut India’s total projected carbon emission by 1 billion tonnes by 2030, reduce the carbon intensity of the economy by less than 45% by the end of the decade and net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.

Power storage is expected to play a crucial role to meet these objectives. India is running the world’s largest clean energy programme.

According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), by 2030, India’s power requirement would touch 817 gigawatts (GW), more than half of which would be clean energy.

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