3 minutes reading time (634 words)

Looking at India’s next sunrise sector

The Indian innovation ecosystem has passionately taken up the cleantech challenge with breakthrough in energy management systems, advanced metering, and grid optimization software on the RE-front. The same goes for innovations in battery swapping, EV battery management systems, and hybrid vehicle retrofit kits on the e-mobility side, writes SidharthChoudhary, Assistant Vice President - Invest India.

In these unprecedented times of a global pandemic, cleantech remains one of the few bright spots, especially renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage. In fact, one of the unintended after-effects of the lockdown has been a resurgence of nature. A lot of people are now starting to question: why can't these conditions continue to persist in a post lockdown world?

A big part of the reason is our power system dependent on coal and conventional transport system − together accounting for more than 60 percent of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, the government's push towards the greening of the grid and the transport sector is timely and puts India at the cusp of a great energy storage opportunity.

Additionally, there have been various measures to accelerate the EV market, estimated to be worth more than $2 billion by 2023. The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India – Phase II program aims to bring more than 150,000 EVs (primarily e-2W, e-3W, and e-buses) on the road by 2022. It is further augmented by a reduction in GST, Income Tax deduction up to `1,50,000 and interest subvention up to `2,50,000 on purchase of EVs. Finally, there are concerted efforts being made by the government and private entities to establish charging infrastructure all over the country. Furthermore, India is already Asia's largest market for various off-grid products such as solar pumps, solar streetlights, solar study lamps, and solar homes.

Our experience in the Accelerating Growth of New India's Innovations (AGNIi) program shows the Indian innovation ecosystem has passionately taken up the cleantech challenge. On the RE-front, we are seeing products and services in solar energy, energy management systems, advanced metering, and grid optimization software. While on the e-mobility-front, innovators have approached us with a variety of innovations in charging infrastructure including swapping, EVs such as bikes, e-3Ws, autonomous cargo-carrying robots, battery management systems, and hybrid vehicle retrofit kits.

However, there still remain applications with tremendous scope for innovation and enterprise including stationary energy storage for grid or off-grid as well as commercial and industrial applications, various parts of the battery value chain such as packaging and thermal management, battery electronics, and even cell manufacturing. Another area which will gain significance in the coming years is the treatment of batteries at the end of their use, either via second-life applications or recycling for critical metals.

As we all know, we are already creating value in areas of our traditional prowess including software and systems integration. India could potentially target up to 80 percent of the battery value by fostering innovations in cell and battery pack manufacturing – this could start for alternative applications such as drones, delivery bots, and consumer electronics. In fact, a robust public R&D network of various government labs such as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology R&D societies and Indian Space Research Organisation could serve as technology partners/providers for startups and established Indian companies, since they have considerable resources on the development of such technologies.

With the determined efforts of organizations such as India Energy Storage Alliance, MeitY and Invest India, the ecosystem supporting energy storage research and startups is fast maturing.

In fact, it will not be wrong to say that the future is indeed bright for EVs and energy storage in India.We could be looking at our next sunrise sector.
Sidharth Choudhary
Author : Padmini
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