The sessions commenced after Welcome Remarks from Ashok Thakur, Editor-in-Chief of ETN and Director of Strategic Initiatives at CES, who stressed on the importance of renewables in helping India meet its energy needs and highlighted IESA's commitment to facilitate meaningful dialogue in the energy storage domain.
The panel discussion, moderated by Dr Rahul Walawalkar, President of IESA and Managing Director of CES, consisted of Ghanshyam Prasad, Chairperson of the Central Electricity Authority, S R Narasimhan, Chairman and Managing Director of Grid India, Manasvi Sharma, CEO of Fluence India, and Stephen Fernands, founder and President of CES.
The session kicked off with the Keynote Address by Ghanshyam Prasad, who pointed out the country was well on its way to achieving 50% power generation from renewable sources by 2023. "We are currently generating 42.5% of power from non-fossil fuels," Prasad said. CEA estimates forecast the country could exceed its target substantially and generate 60-65% of power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, he added.
Prasad said that factoring in a 2-3 year gestation period for the generation projects, the country would need to bid out all projects by 2027-28. "Each year, we could have 50 GW of bids out," he stated, adding that a huge amount of storage will be required if such capacity is to come on stream.
S R Narasimhan, who followed to the podium, spoke on India's energy mix and urgency of storage in the country. Narasimhan said India would require at least 50 GW of storage capacity by 2030.
He pointed out that India's wind and solar generation capacities are mainly based in western part of the country, and the increasing number of cyclones can cause disruptions to the power supply. "Systems can sometimes fail during cyclones," he said, adding that "sometimes there are also instances of tower collapse during intense cyclones." All of this makes development of strong storage systems imperative, he pointed out.
Dr Walawalkar, who moderated the session, earlier spoke about the change in mindset when it comes to storage. "About 10 years ago, when we first started out, most people believed that India should look at storage around 2030-35," he said, adding "But IESA believed India should jump on the storage trend at the same time as the developed world."
Manasvi Sharma started off by acknowledging the key role played by India's policymakers in bringing about the storage revolution. "Storage in real and storage is happening, and due credit to the policymakers in India," he began. He alluded to the cricket analogy of one batsman being a pinch-hitter and another being a sheet-anchor and hoe both of them together can take a team over the finish line.
He pointed out that bids from the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) average Rs 4.67 per unit, which is comparable to any other alternative source of power generation. "So the combined resource (grid + storage) will need to be competitive, and it already is!" he concluded.
Stephen Fernands, founder and President of CES, picked up on Sharma's cricketer analogy and expanded on it. "It's not possible to have one player only bat, one only run and one only field," Fernands said. "We need a cricketer who can do all of these things," before adding, "Storage is that cricketer, it is the answer to energy demand-supply mismatches."