With the aim of developing a holistic ecosystem for the supply chain of batteries in the country, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), India's leading industry alliance focused on the advancement of energy storage and e-mobility launched the India Battery Supply Chain Council (IBSCC) on Thursday.
The IBSCC was launched at the India Battery Manufacturing and Supply Chain Summit organized by IESA in New Delhi.
"The activity which you are engaged in, is not for making money, but for the making of a nation through redefining mobility," said Sudhendu Sinha, Advisor, Infrastructure Connectivity & Electric Mobility, NITI Aayog, and the guest of honour at the summit.
Calling the PLI scheme in Advanced Chemistry Cell [ACC] Battery Manufacturing an aspirational scheme, Sinha encouraged industry players to set up a battery cell manufacturing supply chain that is "sustainable, robust and ethical."
Need for a holistic ecosystem for the supply chain of batteries
Various Indian cities, including the capital Delhi, have been struggling to cut down carbon emissions, therefore transitioning from ICE vehicles to electric vehicles powered by batteries is considered a viable approach for bringing down emissions.
Currently, the EV battery, a core component of the vehicle is not manufactured but is imported in India, resulting in higher EV costs. The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme aims at not only helping lower the cost of EVs by promoting manufacturing of core EV components (like batteries cells) domestically but also reducing reliance on imports and guarding the country against global supply chain shocks.
Congratulating IESA on the launch of IBSCC, Sinha assured industry stakeholders that NITI Aayog will work as a partner and help address challenges that come in the way of creating a superior supply chain for ACC battery manufacturing.
T.K Balaji, Managing Director at Lucas TVS and panelist underscored the need for players to engage in the latest technology and to avoid making short compromises on investments.
"We have this added issue of safety when it comes to Li-ion battery," Balaji explained. "It is very vital for all the players to keep in mind that, what is at stake is also the safety of the people."
If India is to emerge as a leader, Balaji continued, we have to come up with not only the best quality products but we must innovate in material sciences, cell design, and adapt production processes suitable for our country.
Speaking of areas in which IBSCC can focus its efforts, he noted, making cathode materials in India was an urgent need and should be addressed on priority.
Echoing the same thoughts, Niranjan C, Associate Vice President – Operations & Supply Chain, Amararaja Batteries, said that they would be keen on initiatives working on localization of cathode/cathode materials.
Creating infrastructure for testing and validation was another key area IBSCC should work, he suggested.
"Infrastructure availability is going to be a big challenge as we will need sufficient testing agencies, testing circuits necessary for testing, validating products, and moving the product into commercialization phase– this is one important support required," Niranjan pointed.
Arun Mittal, Director, Automotive - Exide Industries Limited lauded the government for the ACC-PLI scheme, as one of the few schemes supporting the sunrise sector.
Drawing from his experience in the battery business and discussing pathways through which India can serve as a global manufacturing hub, Mittal recommended that the best approach forward for industries would be to start working on passive components of a battery (such as separators, cases, and others) instead of the active (cathode, anode, and other materials) ones.
"If we take the approach of working on the low-hanging fruit, that will be helpful," Mittal added.
Mittal also called for greater collaboration between industry-academia and stressed the need for the industry to invest more resources in university and research labs.
Speaking of partnerships, Rajnish Goyal, GM (ESSG), IS, BHEL noted that win-win business models can be developed with EV OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) joining hands with battery technology providers as has been witnessed recently with the partnership between Volkswagen AG and 24M.
The challenge ahead, he cautioned, was going to be innovating and developing technology that will suit the unique climate conditions and market dynamics in India.
Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, President, IESA expressed that PLI in ACC battery manufacturing is not only a big opportunity for nation-building but a trillion-dollar business opportunity in the sunrise sector.
Making the cell-phone revolution witnessed in India between 2010-2020 a case in point, he added, this decade will mark the same growth trajectory for the battery sector.
The discussions at the summit ranged from a talk on ACC PLI Program, supply chain requirement for advanced battery Gigafactories in India, battery manufacturing supply chain: raw materials processing, equipment, and manufacturing process and new research & innovation in energy storage, recycling, and urban mining.
In the panel that included critical equipment manufacturers, Deepak Pahwa, Chairman Pahwa Group, and MD, Bry-Air (Asia) discussed the criticality of dry rooms for lithium battery production. In terms of localization, he highlighted, these technologies are already present in the country, citing the example of Bry-Air, which has years of experience in exporting dry room equipment to battery manufacturing heavyweights in China and Asia. Speaking of EVs, Sadaf Siddiqui, Marketing Initiative Manager, Keysight Technologies stressed the need for precise and reliable testing of batteries and creating an ecosystem where there is an optimized platform for batteries. An ecosystem that would allow managing huge test labs with thousands of test channels and large test data volume for battery manufacturing. Naveen Goudar, Managing Director of Atotech India expressed the need to bring synergies between what we already know and what we can achieve with PLI. Speaking of strong R&D capabilities at Atotech Mr. Goudar noted, "Twenty years back we were thinking how to bring technology in India, and now, we are thinking of how to co-develop capabilities."
The summit was attended by close to 150 members and hosted eminent industry leaders, think tanks, scholars, and policymakers including Tim White, Counsellor Commercial, Trade and Investment Commissioner, Australian High Commission, New Delhi; Randheer Singh, Sr. Specialist & Director, NITI Aayog; V. K. Soni, Head of Projects, Gujarat Fluorochemicals Limited; Vikram Handa, Managing Director, Epsilon Carbon, Dr. K. Ramesha, Senior Principal Scientist & Professor, CSIR – CECRI; Dr. Tata Narasinga Rao, Director (Additional Charge), International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) and Sandeep Tandon, National Program Manager, FLCTD, UNIDO among others.