In order to provide a leg-up to the power storage industry — which is still in a nascent stage in the country — the government is coming up with 400 MW of renewable energy tenders for round-the-clock (RTC) electricity supply.
Sources in the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) told FE that storage-backed power from these sources would be supplied to the New Delhi Municipal Council and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
“Developers can decide for themselves if they want to set up wind or solar projects and these plants can be built at any suitable location in the country,” a person aware of the developments told FE, adding that ‘it is the first initiative of this kind’.
Experts have pointed out that having assured buyers would significantly mitigate risks generally associated with renewable projects, especially as likely higher prices from storage-linked renewable sources have till date discouraged cash-strapped distribution companies from taking up such enterprises.
The development comes at a time when the government is gradually training its focus to promote storage technologies. In March, the Union Cabinet approved the setting up of a national mission on transformative mobility and battery storage, aimed at boosting the deployment of electric vehicles and setting up of adequate battery-making capacity.
According to Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, president at India Energy Storage Alliance, the market for energy storage would grow to over 300 giga-watt-hour during 2018-25 and India is expected to attract investment over $3 billion in the next three years.
However, the industry has called for the removal of barriers such as higher GST (18% for batteries versus 5% for solar) and import duties for kick-starting the market for advanced energy storage in the country.
Since renewable energy is unpredictable in nature, other sources of energy are required for balancing it, increasing the actual cost of such power. Storage is an important component of the balancing requirement and is expected to play a major role with the increase in renewable energy capacity. Under MNRE’s research and development program, energy storage projects worth `11.6 crores have been sanctioned during the last four years. Out of this, only `4.8 crores has been released. The capacity of solar energy storage in the country is a meagre 750 kilowatt-hour.