Energy storage has been a buzz world off late globally and I recently had an opportunity to attend a workshop hosted by the India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) that focused on evaluating the potential for energy storage integration to large scale Renewable Energy (RE) projects and the Electricity Vehicle (EV) market in India. The workshop had significant interest from top RE developers in the country considering the recent tenders from Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) to establish a solar plus storage in the upcoming solar parks in Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Karnataka.
The potential for energy storage integration with solar and wind
In general the overall potential for energy storage stems from the fact that RE is intermittent in comparison to the power demand and hence when there is a significant increase/decrease of RE in the mix there will a period when there will be notable dip from RE in contrast to demand which in graphical terms is referred to as Duck Curve/Camel curve.
It is this period that the power sector anticipates could be served by energy storage instead of turning on/off big fossil powered plants in a chaotic manner. The scenarios are well served in developed world where the Demand Side Management (DSM) has evolved to accommodate energy storage along with the ramping of renewable energy. However, the Indian scenario will be in sharp contrast considering the Indian power demand will be significant and so will the anticipated RE capacity of 175GW by 2022.
The industry believes that the large scale storage although envisaged currently would take time to ramp up but ancillary services market could be well served by energy storage in the short and medium term until the storage technologies reach market maturity. A section of experts are of the opinion that micro grids are not getting the right attention when it comes to storage. Energy storage could be well developed and integrated to micro grid sites. In short, storage as a value proposition will be viable for storing PV during peak sunny days or even for managing morning/evening peak demand and more importantly during the ramp-up/ramp down of RE generation, i.e. the anticipated duck/camel curve.
The electricity vehicle adoption has not been up to the expectations of the government. Even with the nascent battery technology the Revas and Amperes did enter the market and create an impression on the EVs but they failed to take off. The National Electric Mobility Mission anticipates 6 million EVs or Hybrid EVs to rule the roads by 2020. The recent FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles; a 30-60 Lakh subsidy for Electric buses) policy that was launched with a subsidy outlay from the government has created a second buzz wave. It is aptly aided by the new generation vehicles from Mahindra and Ather energy, the latter in particular has taken the 2 wheeler EV market in India by storm, akin to the impact of iPod entry in the music industry (Follower beats the industry leaders).
Aside to the passenger vehicles and its market, leading industry players are also investing significantly in the R&D of electric buses. Policy makers likewise have their task cut out in assimilating industry and market information from other countries where EV has been successful in trying to creating the right framework that facilitates the development of associated infrastructure that enables the operation of electric buses.
Overall, the market for energy storage looks promising although the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) anticipates the large scale adoption to kick in only close to 2020 with R&D and demonstration projects occupying the space until then. On the contrary, the road map for EVs are very optimistic with economic viability forecast in the next couple of years and India could see large scale manufacturing facilities in operation by 2020. However, like for any futuristic project of this scale a clear direction through policies and regulations is needed. For e.g. the ancillary service market in India has still not gained expected traction owing to lack of policies (read more). Similarly for EV and the sector to develop policies related to EV charging and reverse feed in tariffs have to be laid down. Nevertheless, there is some optimism in the air!