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Why India needs grid-scale battery storage

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India is working on the world’s largest grid-scale battery storage programme, including a 13 gigawatt-hour (GWh) facility in Ladakh and a 14 GWh system in Kutch. In comparison, the world’s highest installed storage capacity is 400 megawatt-hour (MWh). Mint explores:

What’s the need for battery storage?

Large battery storages that store and reconvert electricity can help India’s electricity grids, given the intermittent nature of power from clean energy sources such as solar and wind. India already has 100 GW of solar and wind capacity, and is adding another 63 GW. A planned renewable capacity of 450 GW by 2030 can threaten the grid’s stability in case of generation outages due to cloud cover, rains, or wind dying down affecting renewable energy production. Large grid-scale battery storage can help in such a scenario, ensuring the grid frequency remains in the range of 49.9–50.05 hertz (Hz).

What are the steps taken in this respect?

India has unveiled an 18,100 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for a battery storage eco-system that involves setting up 55-GWh manufacturing capacity for advance chemistry cell batteries. The Centre plans to call bids for setting up around 4 GWh of grid-scale battery storage system at the regional load dispatch centres. NTPC has floated a global tender for a 1GWh grid-scale battery storage system and Tata Power Solar has been contracted to set up India’s first large-scale battery storage of 50 megawatt-hour (MWh) at Leh. Reliance Industries Ltd has plans to set up an advanced energy storage giga factory.

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What are the cost economics?

While lithium-ion battery cell prices have fallen to $90-140 per kWh, they are expected to fall to $73 per kWh by 2030, according to IHS Markit. “Considering the larger share of RE, IEA estimates ± 85% flexibility for the Indian power system by 2040, which will be a challenge to manage… energy storage systems will play a critical role,"  said Reji K. Pillai, India Smart Grid Forum president.

Are there any concerns?

With lithium in short supply in India, there are concerns given that Chinese state-owned firms have already secured lithium mine concessions in lithium-rich nations. India and US are looking at setting up an alternative supply chain for lithium. The Geological Survey of India has taken up seven lithium exploration projects. Also, the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research under the department of atomic energy has undertaken lithium exploration in Karnataka and Rajasthan.

What are the other benefits?

Battery storage initiatives will strengthen India’s credentials as a green energy champion at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP-26). Such storages can help supply clean electricity for electric vehicles in the country. “If you add solar in huge volumes, you have surplus energy during mid day, which you have to waste, and give out free. If you add wind beyond a certain level, you have surplus energy during the windy hours which you have to waste. So storage," Union power minister R.K. Singh said on Friday.

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