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Intermittency of Renewable Energy Sources to be managed

National Energy Storage Mission would soon be launched by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to kick-start grid-connected energy storage in India, set up a regulatory framework and encourage indigenous manufacture of batteries, as per the draft submitted to the Ministry in the last week of April, 2018. “We need a viable commercial plan for storing renewable energy and we will be able to significantly cut down import of fossil fuels once the storage of renewable energy is commercially viable”, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and Renewable Energy RK Singh stated recently. To cut down on fossil fuels and to achieve our Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, it becomes imperative for us to store energy generated from renewable sources which itself is inherently intermittent.

India’s zeal to step up renewable capacity has to be matched with capability to manage intermittency. The problem is aggravated by differential resource potential across states, which cannot be easily overcome by Renewable power purchase obligations. Policy enablement will play a key role in development of balancing supplies. Flexible operation of thermal power plants, both coal and gas based, is likely to create a synergy between the conventional and renewable sources. Even the stranded gas-based capacity may find a market for their power. In addition, a close coordination between generation and transmission will be needed, especially if India has to succeed in raising the share of renewable electricity yet higher by 2040 – the terminal year of National Energy Policy as per NITI Ambition Scenario that aims to present a range of possible energy implications for the country till the year 2040.

Batteries could help store surplus energy during peak generation times, but are more immediately needed to stabilise the grid when shifting between renewables and the base load thermal capacity. According to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy resources the current installed capacity of renewables is 65 GW as on February 28, 2018 and once it reaches 100 it will become critical to incorporate storage options. In India there is energy storage opportunity of 75 GW by 2022 as its targeted capacity through renewable by then is 175 GW.

NITI Aayog has proposed a three-stage solution for promoting battery manufacturing in the country:

  • Incentives on offer include land grants for direct awarding of land free of charge or at highly discounted cost to companies to develop manufacturing capacity.
  • Use of tax exemptions, or tax credits per job created and lowering the number of permits required or making them available through just one or two clearing house agencies by lowering bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Developing a common technological roadmap for the battery manufacturing industry before scaling up the battery manufacturing facilities that will allow consistency and easier adoption of the electric vehicles with minimal modifications in charging stations.

National Energy Storage Mission draft:

  • Sets a realistic target of 15-20 GWh (gigawatt hours) of grid-connected storage within next five years.
  • Power grids do not currently use storage options that would help in smoothly integrating renewable energy sources.
  • The mission will focus on seven verticals:
    • Indigenous Manufacturing;
    • Assessment of Technology and Cost Trends;
    • Policy and Regulatory Framework;
    • Financing, Business Models and Market Creation;
    • Research and Development;
    • Standards and Testing; and
    • Grid Planning for Energy Storage.
  • Renewable energy sources now make up almost one-fifth of India’s total installed power capacity.
  • As power grids increase their share of solar and wind energy, the problem remains that the peak supply of renewable sources does not always meet peak demand.
  • Solar energy generation may be at its peak at noon, but unless stored, it will not be available when needed to light up homes at night.
  • Moreover, renewable sources are inherently intermittent: there are days when the wind doesn’t blow or the sky is cloudy.

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