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India’s largest energy storage project is of ‘strategic importance’ for regulators

An existing AES Advancion array. The 10MW India project is expected to act as a great confidence booster for policy makers who are forming a National Energy Storage Mission. Credit: AES

The start of construction on India’s largest energy storage project is not only of strategic importance to regulators, but could also drive another wave of utility-scale projects in India, the chief of the country’s storage alliance has said.

AES India, a subsidiary of AES Corporation, and Mitsubishi Corporation started work this week on the 10MW project that will support the network operated by Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (Tata Power-DDL), a distribution company (Discom) that serves the North and North-West parts of Delhi. Energy-Storage.News reported in January 2017 that what is claimed to be India's first grid-scale energy battery storage project is designed to aid the integration of rooftop solar in particular.

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Rahul Walawalkar, executive director of the India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), told Energy-Storage.News this week: “The AES project is expected to demonstrate the multiple value proposition of energy storage for the distribution grid such as peak shaving, distribution upgrade deferral, reactive power support as well as ancillary services for improving distribution grid reliability.”

Walawalkar also said the project was of “strategic importance” for Indian regulators, given that the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) had already released a staff paper on energy storage last year.

The project would act as a “great confidence booster” for policy makers, such as NITI Aayog, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Ministry of Power (MOP), who are working on a National Energy Storage Mission. In this way, the new project will go towards addressing questions about technology readiness, added Walawalkar.

India’s National Solar Mission (NSM) was particularly successful in driving the local PV market to become the third largest in the world last year, and the nation will be eyeing up similar success in energy storage.

The AES, Mitsubishi project being deployed in Rohini, Delhi, at a substation operated by Tata Power-DDL will enhance grid reliability for more than 7 million customers across the Delhi region.

Storage technology and services company Fluence, a Siemens and AES joint venture, will supply AES' grid-scale Advancion technology platform for the project. The Advancion solution is designed to provide long-term dependability. The project should also demonstrate storage’s ability to balance distributed energy resources, including rooftop solar, said Praveer Sinha, CEO and managing Director, Tata Power-DDL.

The Tata Discom has already implemented smart grid technologies with AES and Mitsubishi, leading the way in India with several country-firsts.

The Indian renewables sector has been described as having it’s “head in the sand” in terms of future grid integration challenges, so the deployment of large-scale storage will be welcomed. Only this week, the head of consultancy firm Bridge to India expressed surprise at roughly 2GW of solar tender issuances in the state of Karnataka as he forecasted troubles with grid integration and balancing of such a heavy solar load, particularly as the state also has significant amounts of wind capacity.

The Delhi project followed a successful demonstration by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) last year using advanced lead acid and Li-ion batteries for grid support services, said Walawalkar – adding: “This project can lead the next wave of adoption of grid-scale storage in India.”

IESA research has found that India has already reached 1.5GWh of storage capacity over the last three years, while growing interest in electric vehicles, has seen various Indian companies including Exicom, Delta, Acme set up more than 1GWh of annual production capacity for lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing. 

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