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Looking ahead to India’s ‘decade of energy infrastructure transformation’

Opportunities for transforming India's electricity sector come from a range of drivers, from the need for rural electrification, to the National Electric Mobility Mission. Image: Wikimedia User: தகவலுழவன்

In past 5 decades India has witnessed number of transformations starting with the Green Revolution of 1960s that transformed the agricultural practices in India. In 1970s and 80s, the "White Revolution - Operation Flood" included the world's biggest dairy development program which transformed India from a milk-deficient nation to the largest milk producer in the world within a span of 30 years. The 1990s saw the economic reforms that opened up the Indian economy and led to the telecom and IT revolutions that have made India a leader in the growing world of knowledge economy at the very beginning of the 21st century. 

Today, India is one of the fastest growing trillion dollar economies in the world, and currently has an electricity generation capacity of over ~200 GW to meet the needs of its 1.2 Billion-plus population. However, India’s per capita annual consumption of energy at ~600 kWh is one of the lowest in the world, even when compared to developing countries like Brazil and China. This is a decade where India needs a clean energy revolution for transforming the electricity infrastructure to provide energy access to over 100 million households (representing around 400 million people) that still lack basic access to electricity.

At the same time India currently boasts a middle class population exceeding 300 Million - almost the size of the USA - that is looking for the same level of energy access and power quality as enjoyed by people in developed countries. Also the lack of reliable and quality power supply is a major obstacle for accelerating development of the manufacturing and industrial sectors in India that is required to maintain 8-10% economic growth for the world's largest democracy. Consumers bear a large burden due to poor quality and unreliable power supply. Industries maintain diesel powered generators and households have inverters with batteries as backup for unscheduled power cuts, voltage fluctuations or variable frequency.

Looking ahead to India’s ‘decade of energy infrastructure transformation’

The energy storage industry in India is 'excited' by steps taken by the government, led by prime minister Narendra Modi. Image: Flickr User: Narendramodiofficial.

We are excited by the steps taken by the new central government led by prime minister Narendra Modi and policy directives by Piyush Goyal, Minister for Energy, Renewable Energy and Coal. The government has announced a number of key initiatives, such as 24/7 energy access for all, 100 smart cities, 10GW wind installations per year and 100GW of solar by 2020. Energy storage is emerging as the critical component for all of these initiatives. India Energy Storage Alliance and our members have been leading the dialogue by providing support to policy makers. Energy storage technologies will play a critical role in developing the modern Indian Grid.

Apart from this, policy makers in India have taken some key initiatives in recent months that are relevant for the energy storage and microgrid community:

  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has mandated use of renewable power for telecom towers in India that are currently utilizing diesel power as their primary source of energy.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is working on the Request for Proposals (RFP) for selecting four projects for renewable integration applications with energy storage. More than 50 companies have already showed interest in responding to this RFP.
  • In the past year, Indian telecom companies led by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. have purchased over US$350 Million worth of Li-Ion batteries and it is estimated that currently over 100,000 telecom towers are using these advanced energy storage systems to reduce diesel consumption.
  • Power Grid Corporation of India is currently evaluating 13 proposals received in response to an RFP for three pilot projects for providing frequency regulation with energy storage systems.
  • The new government is upgrading the ambitious National Electric Mobility Mission, that had set a target of bringing 6-7 million units of new vehicle sales of the full range of electric vehicles, along with resultant liquid fuel savings of 2.2 – 2.5 million tonnes by 2020.
  • With the “Make in India” initiative by Government of India, India not only presents a huge market for advanced storage technologies but can also become a global hub for manufacturing of these advanced solutions.

These policy initiatives have resulted in tremendous opportunities for integration of energy storage technologies for a variety of applications. The advanced energy storage market in India is in its infancy stage, however it carries a significant market potential. A recent market assessment by India Energy Storage Alliance (www.indiaesa.info) suggests a potential of 15 GW to 20 GW by 2020 in India, for various applications ranging from telecom tower backups to grid ancillary services and renewable integration. The chart below provides an overview of the various market opportunities.

Looking ahead to India’s ‘decade of energy infrastructure transformation’

An overview of market opportunities in India. Image: IESA.

The India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) was launched in 2012 by Customized Energy Solutions to promote energy storage and micro grid technologies and their applications in India.  To further the growth of awareness about storage and the application of storage to solve electricity system problems, the IESA has also launched the Knowledge Partner Network (IESA KPN) for an open and transparent exchange of information. IESA is a new initiative, still in its infancy, but with the support of all our members and strategic partners from around the world, we are confident that we can play a pivotal role in this energy revolution for India in the coming decade. Currently, IESA has over 30 member organisations.

India has a robust manufacturing sector and many innovative entrepreneurs who are looking forward to forge partnerships with leading global technology companies. Such partnerships have the true potential to not only help solve energy issues in India, but could make India a manufacturing base that can support the needs of the global energy storage industry.

We are honoured to host an international workshop for policy makers organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at Energy Storage India 2014. Over 50 senior policy makers from more than 10 Asia-Pacific countries will get together in Delhi. We are anticipating open dialogue between leading policy makers as well as leading solutions providers from around the globe, which is essential to open the untapped potential for this 20GW market for energy storage and microgrids. For this IESA is also counting on support from global alliances with other trade and industry associations. We hope that 2015 to 2025 will be a decade of energy infrastructure transformation in India.

The Energy Storage India event takes place on 4-5 December in New Delhi.

Tags: india, rural electrification, microgrid, micro-grid, renewable energy