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WESD 2023: India hits everybody's sweet spot in energy storage

Netra Walawalkar (top left) introduces the WESD panel.

The World Energy Storage Day's session on Stationary Storage within R2 (the Indian subcontinent + mainland Asean + Russia and CIS countries) closed with encouraging and positive words for the country's approach towards energy storage as well as its potential.

Moderated by Netra Walawalkar, Vice President at Customized Energy Solutions India, the panel consisted of Ghanshyam Prasad, Chairperson of the Central Electricity Authority, India's Ministry of Power, Umang Maheshwari, Director, Solutions Deployment, The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, Alexander Hogeveen Rutter, Private Sector Specialist at the International Solar Alliance, Mani Khurana, Senior Energy Specialist at the World Bank and Sanskriti Dubey, Senior Manager, Market Growth & Communications at Fluence.

Ghanshyam Prasad spoke about energy security and corelated the general shift to renewables with the Indian scenario, explaining that when we spoke about electricity, earlier we talked about 'peak' and 'off peak' but now we talk about 'solar' and 'non solar'.

He pointed out that energy storage was mandatory, but cautioned that during the monsoon season, cloud cover could make even solar generation a challenge. This would necessitate "energy storage not just for a few hours, but for days," he said, alluding to the requirement for Long Duration Energy Storage.

Mani Khurana reiterated the World Bank's $1 billion commitment to India in concessional financing and technical assistance and gave an overview of the bank's processes and upcoming projects in the battery energy storage space.

"We believe investments in battery energy storage systems (BESS) a virtuous cycle," Khurana said. "As the World Bank kickstarts investments, more investments will occur." She pointed out the importance of safety for BESS, an issue on which the bank and NITI Aayog have been in talks.

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Alexander Hogeveen Rutter dispelled notions of energy storage being an 'emerging' technology, calling it a mature technology with 40 GW operational in the US alone, with another 40 GW in the pipeline.

He added that energy storage was now cheaper than coal power in most large economies, including India, and was categorical that night-time deficit necessitated energy storage "today, not tomorrow" and that 'electricity banking' in which developers pump solar or wind power into the grid during the day and draw out coal-fired power during the evening weren't in anybody's interest.

Rutter said their calculations showed Indian consumers could save ₹42,000 crore a year if the country put renewables on a level playing field and pushed for solar and wind with energy storage instead of building coal plants.

Sanskriti Dubey took attendees through the history and technical terms of BESS projects across the country and highlighted how storage was helping RE projects cross the finish line. She pointed out that blended tariffs for battery storage-backed renewable projects works out to 30 paisa per unit, which is cheaper than the price per unit of power extracted from coal, and highlighted the speed at which BESS commissions are delivered.

Umang Maheshwari felt RE + battery energy storage projects were a crucial aspect of ensuring reliable and continuous electricity to the millions of currently unconnected people around the world as well as India. He took attendees through three of GEAPP's BESS projects, in India, Vietnam and Malawi in Africa.

Adding on what the previous speakers said, he pointed out that standalone BESS was now cheaper than gas-based power as well due to the spike in gas prices.

Netra Walawalkar gave thanks, making a point to note the deeply informative nature of the presentations made by all present. 

For all latest updates from the WESD 2023 event, visit our LinkedIn page.

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