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Energy storage – A catalyst for greening the grid

Shatanshu Agrawal's picture
AVP, Greenko

A professional with more than 12 years of experience of assisting clients in strategy and corporate planning. Have assisted CXOs across private and public sector entities in formulating and...

  • Member since 2020
  • 8 items added with 3,778 views
  • Feb 11, 2021

India is well on its path of greening the power sector. There is no turning back from it. From here onwards, the share of RE in Indian power sector will only increase notwithstanding the minor bumps which would keep coming as the legacy supply systems adjust to a new normal. Challenges pertaining to RE integration are already a reality in our country. Going ahead, the issue of RE integration will aggravate unless the right measures are implemented.

One of the key mitigation measures is development of adequate energy storage capacity in India. Energy storage, as the name suggests, stores electric power in certain hours of the day (i.e. charging) and supplies it back in different hours (i.e. discharging). It is noteworthy that a majority of countries leading in RE adoption, namely Australia, Germany, Japan, USA, China have already created a sizeable energy storage capacity. As per data made available by Department of Energy, USA more than 150 GW of energy storage capacity exists in the world, largely based on Pumped Hydro Storage (PSP) technology. Energy storage is thus an established concept with few techno-commercially proven technologies already existing and a host of other technologies at various stages of evolution. The global RE transition has just made the world take a serious look at energy storage technologies with a new vigour. India also needs to get its act right and take decisive steps to enable adequate energy storage capacity development in the country.

The need for storage capacity is already evident in a few states in India and is likely to be felt materially across multiple states over the next 2-3 years. As per our estimate, energy storage requirement for the Indian power system is likely to exceed 100 GW/6 hours by 2030. This is subject to, primarily, achieving RE target of 450 GW with solar generation capacity of 300 GW by 2030, 300 GW peak demand in 2030 (5.2% CAGR growth over the next decade) with hourly demand profile largely same as is now, as well as improved ability of conventional generation capacity to vary its output at a short notice (so as to accommodate the demand and RE generation variability). These estimates might be higher than what is available in the public domain but we have assumed RE capacity targets to be sacrosanct (though they can do with some adjustments), Nil RE curtailment and arguably, a reasonable demand growth scenario. As any centurion will tell you, the grind starts much early and for the Indian power sector, it needs to start now!

OPINION: Energy storage – A catalyst for greening the grid
Before we list the action items to create a sustainable energy storage market in India, let us have a perspective on the potential business models of energy storage in India. The central functionality of energy storage in the Indian power sector will be to shift energy from peak generation hours (typically, solar hours) to peak demand hours (morning or evening). Specific applications would differ based on where in the electricity value chain energy storage is integrated. Broadly, there are four key business models as presented in the schematic. Technical feasibility of these models is established as they are in implementation in various parts of the world and are unlikely to see any major challenge in the Indian context. In fact, even in India, integration of RE and energy storage to provide firm and dispatchable supply has already been successfully tested vide few tenders from the central tendering agency and much needed more such tenders are in the making. However, this (“behind-the-meter” integration of RE and Storage) may not be the most efficient energy storage application and Indian power sector will do better to switch to other applications which ensure optimal energy storage utilization so to enable development of a viable large scale energy storage market in India. Multiple use cases of such application(s) were evaluated in the present context and found to be techno-commercially viable. It is important to note that both RE and energy storage technologies are under evolution and are expected to become further cost competitive going ahead whereas legacy power generation and transmission systems costs are expected to be either static or inflationary, and hence, the attractiveness of the suggested energy storage business models will continue to increase.

Hence, now the key to establish sustainable energy storage market in India depends on expeditious roll-out of enabling policy, regulatory and contracting structure. Following immediate action items are required for this.

  1. Market enablement – putting a cogent policy regime in place
    1. Formulate National Storage Policy – laying down long-term vision, articulating areas of application of energy storage, framework for assessment of energy storage capacity at various levels (national, regional and state level) in the power system (we have refrained from suggesting ‘targets’) and delineating role of various stakeholders in the same.
    2. Rethink transmission infrastructure development framework – existing transmission planning framework to include energy storage as an eligible transmission element to optimize transmission asset utilization besides providing other benefits like energy shifting, RE firming etc.
  2. Operational procedures – enabling policy
    1. Issue Stand-alone Storage Bidding Guidelines providing interested parties a suitable framework to contract energy storage as per their specific need and also follow-up with a Model Contract Agreement
    2. Rework the transmission connectivity and pricing regime – existing transmission connectivity and pricing framework is suited only for legacy generation assets and need to be accommodative for energy storage characteristics.
  3. Contracting – putting policy in action
    1. Mandate agencies (as Government may deem fit) to undertake stakeholder consultation for design and issue of suitable Storage Tenders for procurement by different set of procurers (Discoms, RLDC, CTU etc).
  4. Storage capacity creation particularly ‘Aatm Nirbhar’ Energy storage – managing the supply side
    1. Rationalize fiscal regime (GST, service tax) for promotion of indigenous energy storage capacity development
    2. Simplify approval or clearance process for expeditious development of grid-scale energy storage solutions which otherwise increases the effective cost and development timeline of energy storage capacity.

The debate on the need for introduction of energy storage in India is settled. The focus now should be to shift gears and press the pedal to bridge the gap between plans and projection to capacity on ground.

[This piece was authored by Manoj Tanwar, VP & Head (Commercial); and Shatanshu Agrawal, AVP, Greenko. The views expressed are personal]

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 11, 2021

Hence, now the key to establish sustainable energy storage market in India depends on expeditious roll-out of enabling policy, regulatory and contracting structure. 

Are the public leaders in India generally in agreement-- are there allies in high places, or is this going to be the crux of the fight moving forward? 

Shatanshu Agrawal's picture
Shatanshu Agrawal on Feb 13, 2021

Hi Matt, In our conversations with the public leaders, there is a general consensus on need for energy storage. The debate is now on in terms of potential business models and how to enable them. There is some concern around price as well (India being a price conscious market. No surprises there !!). We are expecting few key developments this year - first storage contract with a utility. Lets see how it actually pans out.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Feb 12, 2021

Shatanshu, Thanks for highlighting this important issue. Energy storage is needed to balance the GRID everyplace . Battery Storage has been the holy grail for 100 years. It reacts very fast. Then the hydro storage can be run with it for a very stable and efficient GRID.   When my wife and I worked in Mumbi building the country wide Reliance cellular network we got to see the problem with power in India. It will take sometime but it will be much better for the growth of business .  

Shatanshu Agrawal's picture
Shatanshu Agrawal on Feb 13, 2021

Thanks Jim. I can imagine the challenges you would have faced then. Things have improved since in some aspects. 

There is right noise around energy storage in India. Hopefully now actions will match the words.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Feb 13, 2021


Thanks Shatanshu.  In a very real way, the planet is dependent on India´s success in transforming its energy infrastructure.  The data indicate that there is a big job ahead.


«India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), after China and the US.

Coal power plants, rice paddies and cattle are major sources of emissions, which continue to rise steeply, although per-capita emissions remain well below the global average.

India is also very vulnerable to climate change, notably due to the melting of the Himalayan glaciers and changes to the monsoon.

The country has pledged a 33-35% reduction in the “emissions intensity” of its economy by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.»

However, I do not doubt that India is capable of meeting the challenge.  Perhaps India´s greatest assets are their huge and able workforces for all aspects of the energy conversion.  

It should be noted that nuclear power has a less than stellar record in India.

"Nuclear power produced a total of 35 TWh and supplied 3.22% of Indian electricity in 2017.

Nuclear power in India has suffered from generally low capacity factors. As of 2017, the lifetime weighted energy availability factor of the Indian fleet is 63.5%."

However, that won´t stop the nuclear interests from attempting to divert India to what may seem like a viable alternative to the step by step establishment of a

«sustainable energy storage market in India (which) depends on expeditious roll-out of enabling policy, regulatory and contracting structure.»

as indicated in Mr. Agrawal´s post.

There may well be a future for nuclear in India´s energy mix.  But, there should be no temptation to rely on nuclear in any sizable way as some suggest:


"The Indian government is committed to growing its nuclear power capacity as part of its massive infrastructure development programme."


Am I correct in believing that the author would consider that a crucial mistake with regard to  the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets planned by 2030?

Shatanshu Agrawal's picture
Shatanshu Agrawal on Feb 13, 2021

Hi Mark, Nuclear seems to be less likely scenario given the developmental issues and cost of generation. With respect to India, fuel security is also an issue. We think RE + storage is potentially the optimal route for India. Though the RE scale up in India is unprecedented and may have its own challenges.

Shatanshu Agrawal's picture
Thank Shatanshu for the Post!
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