India’s first 24/7 solar-powered town enabled with battery storage and smart controls

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Modhera in the Indian state of Gujarat is the country’s first fully solar powered town, demonstrating that battery storage can enable 24/7 clean energy and rural access to electricity.  

GreenPowerMonitor, which supplied the project with power plant controller and energy management system (EMS) said the smart combination of solar with battery storage with intelligent controls can solve the very complex challenge of creating a community’s entire energy network.

Modhera has only 1,400 inhabitants and is home to the Sun Temple dedicated to Hindu solar deity Surya.

It was picked out as the ideal place to demonstrate that access to electricity can be made fair, universal and completely renewable, in a project supported by the national government Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

MNRE issued the scheme’s tender in March 2020, citing that the “Scheme for Solarisation” of Modhera had the objective of bringing forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own vision for the historic town, this being “so that the domestic and agricultural electricity needs of all the households of Modhera are fully fulfilled with solar energy, thereby setting up a pilot demonstration project for a village/town running completely on solar energy”.

As sought out through the tender, a 6MW solar PV power plant, 6MW/15MWh battery energy storage system (BESS), 271 rooftop solar arrays of 1kW each, smart meters and electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment were installed.

GreenPowerMonitor, which is a renewable energy digital services company owned by certification and standards group DNV, was appointed by engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor Mahindra Susten to supply integrated onsite control, monitoring, data management and display solutions for the hybrid power plant.

FIMER provided six 1MVA bi-directional power conversion system (PCS) units including solar inverters, which Energy-Storage.news reported in early May. The project was brought online in just a year, with commissioning in August 2021.

This week, GreenPowerMonitor (GPM) offered more details on its involvement in the project and the company’s manager for the region said its successful operation so far indicated the huge potential of hybrid renewables-plus-energy storage.

“Combining solar PV and batteries in a hybrid project is challenging, but opens a wide range of possibilities to provide 100% renewable and clean energy to local communities,” Sergi Bosque Garcia said, adding that the flagship project “can be replicated in other regions with similar needs”.

“…we hope that this becomes a standard solution and a benchmark in the renewable energy industry.”

GPM’s power plant controller (PPC) and energy management system (EMS) are used as the system’s master controllers, allowing the batteries and other components to manage black start / grid-forming (islanding), energy shifting, state-of-charge (SoC) management and balancing of batteries in addition to frequency and voltage support.

GPM has created its digital platforms to maximise the production and integration of renewable energy and monitors 54GW of renewable energy assets worldwide, the company’s CEO Juan Carlos Arévalo told Energy-Storage.news in a recent interview.

“As you can imagine when we talk about renewables, we talk about storage as well, because we foresee the future as a combination of all the technologies, plus storage,” Arévalo said.

“Storage is an enabler, it’s not a source of production, it’s an enabler to other technologies, to maximise how to get the most out of them, and what we want is to offer through our power plant control and energy management system is flexibility.”

The R650 million (US$8.37 million) cost of the Modhera 24/7 solar project was shared 50:50 by the state government of Gujarat and the national Union Government. Both will hope the project can truly serve as the replicable example for other regions that it has so far proven to be.

A  different kind of 24/7 renewables supply was contracted for in August 2021 by the government-owned Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), which signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with independent power producer (IPP) ReNew Power for a 400MW ‘Round-the-Clock’ (RTC) electricity supply deal. That involves the use of a combined 1,300MW of wind and solar, together with BESS technology.

Don’t miss our free webinar, “Learn about India’s current and future business models for energy storage,” with Clean Horizon and guest speakers from Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Customized Energy Solutions. It takes place on Wednesday 22 June and you can register to attend here.

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