Energy storage has emerged as a major focus area for a number of companies engaged in the renewable energy sector. The rapid growth in solar photo-voltaic projects and wind farms globally and domestically is forcing developers to innovate power grid networks apart from charting a new course for battery storage technologies.
This calls for regulatory changes which factor in new storage technologies as large solar and wind projects get integrated with the grid.
Given the challenges of maintaining system stability, experts see battery storage for solar projects as one of the options which can help better manage power supply variations. The changes would be necessitated as local conditions could wary and the demand-supply situation could necessitate seamless management of grids.
While a number of companies are working on innovating (Tesla is the best example), according to Telangana State Electricity Regulator, Ismail Ali Khan, provisions relating to ancillary capacities need to be addressed through amendments keeping in mind the new developments taking place. For instance, renewable energy projects are vulnerable to changes in climatic conditions and the challenge is to ensure that such variations do not impact the grid.
Representatives of several companies from the United Kingdom were in India last month. They spent time interacting with their Indian counterparts at a meeting hosted by the CII to explore the potential of battery storage technologies and explore options to invest and partner in research and development.
On potential collaborations, Andrew McAllister, British Deputy High Commissioner based in Hyderabad, said in the UK 13 per cent of the electricity comes from renewable energy and is targeted to go up to 30 per cent by 2030. The UK is the first to commit to completely phase out coal powered energy by 2025.
While the UK generates 3.6 giga watt of off-shore wind capacity, more than anywhere in the world, it is also seeking to innovate in the area of energy storage.
Harry Vickers of Camborne Energy Storage explained how the company was looking at investing in energy storage products and developing them. As a tech agnostic player, it was open to working with any company willing to engage in this area of immense opportunity and scope.
Being amongst the first to install the grid-scale ‘Tesla power pack’ in Somerset, which has the capacity to power about 500 homes, Camborne is seeking to play a much bigger role engaging with companies in India.
As the renewable energy capacity of both wind and solar is projected to go up significantly, the need for energy storage has become a new thrust area for companies. The ‘Tesla power pack’, developed by the California-based company that designs and manufactures electric vehicles, is sophisticated and look like white fridges. It has been deployed in the UK. Camborne is looking at setting up similar large scale projects.
William Heinzelmann, Senior Analyst with Good Energy, said their focus has been on innovation and investments into new technology areas in the renewable energy sphere. “We expect cost of electricity to go down with the implementation of solar PV projects. By 2020 it is proposed to link up all domestic connections with smart grids and smart metering systems.”
With the installed capacity of solar and wind power projects set to go up significantly, Heinzelmann felt there would be new challenges in managing frequency, be it excess power or shortage of power and combining different energy streams, including renewables. There is therefore need to work on smart grid projects and bring down network costs.
For experts at the meeting, energy storage was one major focus area to maintain grid stability and security. This, they reiterated, would call for changes in the regulatory framework.
According to Frank Gordon of the Renewable EnergyAssociationthere has been significant developments in energy storage leading to a storage revolution, critical to meet the energy requirements of the world. He felt while the cost of energy is coming down, we would require even better technological capabilities to handle the changing energy mix without disrupting grid stability.