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India's Race to Replace Diesel Generators

image credit: © Rudra Narayan Mitra |
Julian Jackson's picture
Staff Writer, Energy Central BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

  • Member since 2020
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  • Oct 25, 2021

Like many developing countries, India has power supply issues. Its growing cities and expanding population puts a strain on utility companies as demand grows. Often utilities struggle to provide 24/7 power to all their customers: outages are common. The customary solution to these challenges for different types of end-user, including factories, hospitals, shopping malls, residential complexes and government organizations, is to have large scale diesel generators to provide uninterrupted power. By some estimates there are over 70,000 MW of large DG sets in India. These generators emit heat, particulates, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants. Air quality in India's cities is often quite poor, and the generators contribute a substantial amount to this.

The best option to replace these generators with an up-to-date system is lithium ion batteries. A battery backup system can be charged either from the grid or from renewable systems like solar rooftop arrays. While a typical diesel generator operates during power outages – typically a few hours a month in India – the battery energy storage system connected to the grid can support the power infrastructure 24x7 by providing frequency and voltage support and can be a great resource for renewable energy (RE) and electric vehicle (EV) integration with the electricity distribution grid.

A cost analysis found that lithium ion batteries were up to a third cheaper than diesel generators per KWh. That is in addition to eliminating the discharge of pollutants. 

Batteries can have a significant effect on load management, benefiting utilities. They can sell electricity back to the grid to assist in managing loads at peak times. They can also help with peak load shaving, where the user implements battery power support at peak times. Another area is system regulation: power system regulation or balancing can be done efficiently by a battery system by adjusting the momentary differences between demand and generation. Voltage support: grid operators are required to maintain the grid voltage within specified limits. Voltage support is especially valuable during peak load hours when distribution lines and transformers are generally over-loaded.

India's power requirement is expected to grow from the present 395 GW to 823 GW in 2030. This huge increase in capacity will need careful management. Replacement of diesel generators distributed across the country with modern battery systems is the fastest and cheapest route to build flexibility for the Indian grid.

Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Oct 26, 2021

Hi Julian

You covered everything. The question is about barriers to the implementation.

I think it is a financial barrier, which could be defeated by the energy services companies. Win-win situations are promising here.

Pulikkal Ashokan's picture
Pulikkal Ashokan on Nov 4, 2021

Dear Mr Julian Jackson,

I read with interest your note on the diesel generators activities in India and the level of power generated by Diesel Generators.

You had also suggested for alternatives sources for power generation to contribute with clean energy.

I am a Researcher in clean energy for more than 20 years and my research activities

found more results to look for  new alternative methods to generate clean energy.  I have invented 3 new major methods,

and am in the process of making working models soon. I have given more importance to new methods in Hydro power, to re-use water many times, and artificial wind energy to get 100% power generation from wind. Therefore, my inventions will help energy problems being faced by all, in a few years' time,  once they are implemented well in the world. I wish to write to you more, if I am given your contact email ids.


P.P. Ashokan,

Researcher-clean energy & water,

Cochin-Kerala - India  Ph 9074575071 email:

Julian Jackson's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
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