How Battery Storage Technology Paves Way For A Renewable-powered Future?

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Battery storage systems are emerging as one of the key solutions to effectively integrate high shares of solar and wind renewables in power systems worldwide. 

Battery storage systems(BSS) are used to store energy for later use. BSS serves as a crucial hub for the entire electricity grid, right from managing power during peak load periods, enabling energy management and boosting the quality and reliability of power to helping decrease environmental impact. Energy storage also smoothens the integration of variable or intermittent renewable energy sources into the grid by matching supply with demand.

Energy storage serves as a major enabler of a smarter grid. Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) provide a broad range of primary and ancillary services and functions for grid operators. The wide range of applications of energy storage, coupled with the falling cost of systems, would likely result in the rapid growth of battery energy storage solutions. Li-ion batteries are emerging as a frontrunner among the battery energy storage technologies. Recently, lithium-ion (Li-ion) has gained pre-eminence as the leading battery technology because of its higher efficiency compared to others. The increasing growth of electric vehicles (EVs) resulted in advancements in Li-ion technologies and a steady decline in the prices of lithium-based batteries.

The potential applications of BSS have gained the attention of a number of stakeholders across the value chain, boosting its considerable growth and paving the way for the next phase of the energy transition and a renewable powered future.

Read on as our experts give their views..

India, as per its stated goals under the Paris Agreement, aims to reduce its emissions intensity by 33-35 percent by 2030 from the 2005 levels, while increasing the share of non-fossil-fuel-based energy to 40 percent of its total generation capacity. In line with this commitment, the country has set itself a target of achieving 175 GW of renewables-based energy (RE) capacity by 2022, and 450 GW by 2030. This capacity will largely be solar-based and, to a lesser extent, wind-based. Solar installations have witnessed tremendous growth over the past decade; solar is today the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the world as well as in India. Despite the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, solar power generation continues to be a resilient driver of India’s ambitions of achieving a sustainable energy mix. 

The government too is bullish on a RE-powered future. The proposal put forth in 2020 for a National Renewable Energy Policy for promoting renewable energy and determining renewable purchase obligations is in line with the country’s carbon reduction commitments. Meanwhile, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is exploring the possibility and viability of different models such as wind-solar hybrid; solar with storage; hydrogen, and others. Going by the government support and the interest and the momentum that the solar power sector is witnessing, it is clear that solar will lead the way, complemented by other RE models. The industry has, meanwhile, started domestic equipment manufacturing to reduce dependence on foreign imports.

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The need for battery storage amidst India’s RE plans

India’s plans for driving the growth of RE involve, among other things, renewable hybrids. Owing to the complementary nature of wind and solar power, wind-solar hybrid systems are well-suited to meet India’s energy needs. However, the unpredictable nature of both these types of energy necessitates battery storage to be able to provide round-the-clock power. As we transition towards an energy mix with an increasingly higher proportion of RE, battery storage systems will have a very important role to play in ensuring grid stability. Battery-storage-enabled RE systems can provide clean energy in a controlled and uninterrupted manner by storing the energy generated during the peak RE generation hours and releasing it into the grid during peak demand hours.

Coupling solar PV with battery storage can provide an extremely cost-effective means of providing affordable, reliable electricity supply to many remote, underserved communities in India. There is yet another reason why battery storage is so important in the RE context. The electricity that’s fed into the power grid should be of the same frequency as the electricity that’s consumed. The variable nature of solar and wind power, however, makes it very challenging for grid operators to maintain the frequency of a pure RE grid. Battery storage can be of tremendous help with frequency management and grid synchronization. The declining prices of batteries make them a viable option for RE storage. Even electric vehicles (EVs) can serve this purpose. They can draw power from the grid during peak generation hours, store it in their battery when not they are not in use, and release it back into the grid when needed.

The way ahead for battery technology innovation and adoption 

The adoption of energy storage has, in the past, raised some concerns over the financial viability of DISCOMs. It is very important to address these concerns and to ensure that the RE play is a win-win proposition for all stakeholders. Although India has developed battery storage facilities, we need a robust framework to regulate the use of storage systems, as well as clear guidelines for attracting investments. The Government of India has consistently supported schemes for setting up centralized and distributed REsources. These efforts have succeeded in creating demand, spurring technology advancements, and enabling economies of scale in the RE sector. The National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage, launched in 2019, promotes phased manufacturing programmes for battery and EV components and will support the establishment of large-scale integrated battery manufacturing plants in India. 

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Li-ion batteries are widely used around the world to store energy for EVs and RE systems. However, they aren’t easy to dispose of, and are classified as hazardous waste. India should invest in research and development to try and find means of making batteries that are not only renewable or recyclable, but also cost-effective. Falling costs, coupled with market reforms that reward the speed, accuracy and precision of battery storage systems, will help in driving their widespread, market-driven adoption. India has made an impressive start in its journey towards its RE goals. Getting there in the targeted time will call for concerted efforts by all stakeholders, guided by a clear policy and regulatory framework, and powered by continuous innovation in battery storage solutions.

By Manoj Gupta, VP-Solar and Waste to Energy Business, Fortum India Pvt Ltd

Battery energy storage (BES) technology is set to play a crucial role in helping India achieve net-zero carbon emission goals. The country is committed to increasing the renewable energy (RE) share in power generation by 40% and reducing carbon emissions by 33-35%, by 2030. Currently, the share of RE in the primary energy-supply mix is approximately 20%. This is projected to reach 100% by 2050. 

The falling costs of RE technologies and the Government’s thrust on deploying green energy create an attractive environment for REinstallation in the country. However, the intermittent nature of RE makes it challenging to integrate it into the grid. BES, by storing the excess energy and feeding it to the grid, can improve the reliability of the grid while providing power system flexibility. This is applicable to off-grid power supply as well. 

Of the various energy storage technologies, like pumped-hydro, compressed air, thermal fluid storage, etc., BES—which is compact, fast-ramping, and has a smaller gestation period— is the most preferred.  Among the various BES technologies available, lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) are the most popular as they offer better performance characteristics (power and energy density, cycle life, safety, etc.). 

LiB technology is currently gaining momentum for utility-scale applications, constituting almost a 90% share in the utility-scale energy projects across the globe. India too has installed a 10 MW LiB energy storage system in Delhi—its first such system—designed to improve the reliability and efficiency of the grid, support peak demand, and aid grid stabilisation, among others. 

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LiB prices have reduced by about 70% in the last five years, and are expected to decline further, given the global impetus towards electric vehicles and RE deployment.  Currently, the price of LiBs is approximately USD 137/kWh, which is expected to come down to USD 58/kWh by 2030.

However, there are significant challenges in employing the LiB technology.  Presently, Indian battery manufacturers import Li cells from countries such as China, Japan, and Korea, and assemble the modules. Another concern is that LiBs are being considered primarily for electric vehicle (EV) applications; their use in the RE sector is neglected. Going ahead, it may become difficult to meet India’s rising demand, as the exporters of Li cells will also have to achieve their EV- and RE-deployment goals.

To preempt future supply-chain risks, India needs to start manufacturing these cells domestically. Considering the scarcity of materials used currently in LiB variants (Ni, Co), alternate battery materials (Li iron phosphate, Li manganese oxide) should be prioritised. Further, emerging battery technologies like LiS, Li air, and solid-state batteries should be explored, as they are better than the conventional LiBs, and their raw materials can easily be sourced domestically. 

Also, to boost domestic production, Indian battery manufacturers should utilise the production-linked incentive scheme that provides a substantial financial support of INR 18,000 crore for setting up LiB cell manufacturing.

Moreover, as a sizable number of retired batteries (from EVs) become available in the coming years for secondary use, they can be utilised in RE applications. BES deployment at utility-scale, along with such secondary use, will reduce energy costs and mitigate environmental impact. This should be complemented by a battery recycling ecosystem that enables using recycled materials for domestic-cell manufacturing. 


Dr Anjali Singh –  Research Scientist, Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP)

Bhupesh Verma – Senior Research Analyst, Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP)

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