2017-05-16
12. Microgrids

Energy Storage for Microgrids

Micro-grids in India were pioneered in the 1990s by West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) when it installed a 25KWp solar PV system in Sundarban delta region. Subsequently Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) initiated a solar plant in Bilaspur district. By the 2001 census, there were an estimated 25,000 remote villages which were considered too remote and warranted off-grid electrification. Thereafter, several micro-grid installations took place under the umbrella of Government initiatives such as the Remote Village Electrification Programme (RVEP), Village Energy Security Programme (VESP) and Decentralized Distributed Generation (DDG) scheme across various states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and West Bengal.

Apart from Government encouragement, there are multiple emerging private players who are active in establishing and maintaining micro-grids in the country. Hush Power System based in Bihar installed 90 biomass based plants in 300 villages and hamlets. All plants provide power supply through basic micro-grid infrastructure in villages with unreliable grid power or no power at all. Similar efforts are being pursued by a private entity called Mera Gao Power (MGP) which has electrified households in over 500 hamlets in Sitapur and Barabanki districts in Uttar Pradesh through solar PV based mincro-grids. DESI Power – another company dealing in biomass-based generation – has implemented micro-grids in over 20 sites in Araria district of Bihar. Other private sector companies that are providing power access in rural areas of India through DRE based micro-grids are Minda Next Gen Technologies, Kuvam Energy, Gram Power, Gram Oorja, OMC power, Greenpeace, Tata solar, ONergy etc.

Electrical energy storage is a key component of micro-grid systems, particularly the solar PV or small wind based projects. The storage system provides valuable functionalities to the micro-grid systems, most significantly in extending the output of the generation plant through dark hours of the day or when the wind is not blowing. Along with a power conditioning unit and inverter, the battery storage systems also serve the purpose of smoothing intermittent power flow from renewable generation, regulating voltage in the system and providing peak shaving. Depending on connectivity of the micro-grid to the centralized grid system, energy storage can also help in resiliency through its ability to offer islanding and black start support.

According to a recent survey done for the Rockefeller Foundation, in typical solar micro-grid systems serving rural communities in India, the cost of battery back represents anywhere between 10%-20% of the capital expenditures. Most of the current installed systems in Indian rural setups have been conventional lead-acid based and their typical life does not extend beyond 3-5 years. Other prevalent technologies such as advanced lead acid, Li ion or Nickel Cadmium have been found too expensive and impractical in the rural context. However, such a scenario might change in the urban context if campus based micro-grids are encouraged in urban townships and establishments such as SEZs or hospitals etc. since the appetite for investment may be higher compared to a rural setup.

Why IESA?

IESA provides a common platform for micro-grid project developers, operators and other stakeholders in the country. The alliance is making conscious effort to bring together the practitioners and researchers alike on a single stage where they can work together to enhance the employability and acceptability of micro-grids across India. The alliance will offer consultations and dissemination of information on following aspects related to uptake of micro-grid:

  • Micro-grid feasibility, design, and implementation
  • Refining the business case for hybrid, renewable energy micro-grids
  • Solar + storage advances
  • Utilisation of energy storage for micro-grid scenarios
  • Micro-grid power control, management, and grid integration
  • Optimising the management of distributed renewable energy resources
  • Effective project evaluation, implementation, and management
  • Project financing
  • Economic and market analysis of micro-grids
  • Standards and interoperability issues
  • Market drivers and opportunities region-wise in the country

The participants of the alliance are envisaged in forms of micro-grid project developers, owners, and entrepreneurs, utility, renewable energy professionals, energy storage providers, researchers and academics professionals, investors and regulatory representatives etc. IESA promises to be a unique platform for all those stakeholder to share knowledge, network for business opportunities and work in tandem to facilitate best practices of micro-grid implementations and maintenance.

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