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Solar Energy Corporation of India launches ‘first-of-its-kind’ 1,000MWh battery storage tender


The government-controlled Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has launched a 500MW/1,000MWh pilot tender for large-scale standalone battery storage.

SECI issued a Request for Selection (RFS) document yesterday, seeking to procure the battery energy storage systems (BESS) through a tariff-based competitive bidding process. It is expected to be the first stage in a procurement drive for 4,000MWh of BESS in total. 

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The corporation, as its name suggests, is responsible for promoting solar energy in India as an arm of the National Solar Mission, and is administered by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

In order to support the deployment and integration of 500GW of new non-fossil fuel energy capacity, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has modelled a need for 27GW/108GWh of battery storage by 2029-2030, in addition to 10,151MW of pumped hydro energy storage.  

The tender is for two BESS projects at a single site, which is at Fatehgarh-III substations in the state of Rajasthan. Land will be provided on a leasing/right-to-use basis, facilitated by SECI in agreement with the Transmission Licensee.

The systems will connect directly to India’s inter-state transmission system (ISTS) with an aggregate capacity of 1,000MWh, comprising two-hour duration systems. Bidding entities may propose to build one or both of the 250MW/500MWh projects sought.  

SECI will enter into a battery energy storage purchase agreement (BESPA) with winning bidders. The corporation said it has received interest from prospective buying entities that want to be able to use energy storage to deliver power on-demand, during both peak and off-peak times. 

Selected systems will be delivered on a build, own, operate and transfer basis and once commissioned, SECI intends to act as intermediary for use of the BESS and for charging-discharging. 

The tender is for new facilities only. An end date for submissions of 10 June 2022 has been set, with bids to open five days later. 

Sector poised for rapid growth

SECI signalled that it was preparing to launch the tender in October last year. Other large-scale tenders hosted directly by government entities are also expected, while a state-owned power company, NTPC, is already hosting its own 1,000MWh tender process

SECI contract manager Pratik Prasun said via social media site LinkedIn that the public procurement tender is a “first-of-its-kind concept in India, where two of the most important use cases of BESS will be tested on a large-scale,” drawing readers’ attention to a pre-bid meeting to be held on 6 May. 

India’s energy storage market is poised for rapid growth, with support from government lining up with growing private sector interest. As noted by the India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) industry group, there is only about 85MWh of grid-connected BESS online or under construction in the country so far, but a solid pipeline of 4.6GWh, including tendered for and announced projects exists. 

This has recently led global players in the energy storage technology provider and system integrator space like Fluence and Powin Energy to enter the market. Both have partnered with major domestic players in the renewables space.

 In a recent interview, Powin Energy executive VP Danny Lu told that the importance of strong local partners with a deep knowledge of the Indian energy sector cannot be overstated. Lu said that Powin’s local partner, O2 Power, will be responsible for entering bids into tenders like those launched by NTPC and SECI. 

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