Energy storage projects will increase in India for peaking power tariff tenders: Deepak Thakur, CEO – HES at Sterling and Wilson
He added that the firm will expand its portfolio in integrating storage solutions and is positive that the hybrid market will grow with higher renewable energy penetration into the grid
The hybrid and energy storage (HES) division, part of the solar power generation company Sterling & Wilson, was launched in 2018. Deepak Thakur, chief executive officer of its HES division in an exclusive interview tells ETEnergyWorld they are awaiting hybrid EPC tenders in Leh, Chhattisgarh, Lakshadweep from SECI, NTPC, in the coming months and are focussing on round-the-clock power concept. Edited excerpts:
Give us a brief overview of the size of the company’s operations and the hybrid energy and storage business?
The global turnover of Sterling and Wilson in 2018-19 was Rs 12,207 crore. The Hybrid and Energy Storage (HES) business provides EPC solutions for hybrid power plants and energy storage. These hybridized storage solutions can be applied to large fossil and renewable power plants, data centers, the C&I segment and also remote settings such as islands. We offer these solutions to a range of clients — independent, community of ‘behind the meter’ end-users, project developers, public utilities etc. The company has delivered 9.5 GW of solar, diesel, and gas-based power plants on a turnkey basis.
The HES division was launched exactly two years back in April 2018. Can you share details — capacity and location etc — of the projects bagged/commissioned in India in this time? If the company has not commissioned any projects in India in two years, is that not slow progress?
Indian Hybrid market got the push from MNRE/SECI couple of years ago. Initial projects which were announced and tendered were Wind Solar Hybrid of 1.2 GW and 700 MW CTU connected Wind Solar Hybrid Projects. These were tariff-based bidding projects, which were not pure-play EPC contracting business models. Recently, SECI came out with an RTC power supply tender and peaking power supply tariff, which are all hybrid projects under the same tariff-based bidding structure.
In 2018, the first large EPC Hybrid project was tendered, with a configuration of 40 MW Wind, 120 MW Solar + Storage, which was partly funded by World Bank. SWPL was the lowest bidder and received the LOI from SECI. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, this project could not take off. In India, we are awaiting Hybrid EPC tenders in Leh, Chhattisgarh, Lakshadweep from SECI, NTPC, and other large utilities in the coming months. We are quite positive that the Hybrid market will grow with higher Renewable Energy penetration into the Grid.
What are the specific business opportunities or tenders the company is eyeing in India in the HES space?
HES is specifically focussing on opportunities like Round-of-the-Clock (RTC) power concept coming up in Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) tenders. S&W is also positive about the fact that the energy storage projects are going to increase in India for peaking power tariff tenders. We will expand our portfolio into engineering and integrating storage solutions to address this potential market in India. We are also focussing on upcoming Wind, Solar Hybrid projects, as targeted by the Govt of India under MNRE/ SECI.
Can you give us details of the current ongoing projects and what is the capacity of the projects executed by the HES division?
The company has executed a hybrid project with Solar + Diesel + Battery in Nigeria, under the Energizing Education Programme from Rural Electrification Agency (REA) for three sites. This comprises 37 MWh battery energy storage systems, 5.7 MWp solar, and DG of 4.4 MVA. It is providing power to universities in West Africa.
In Niger, we have won a large Hybrid project of Solar + DG + Battery + Transmission line as part of a consortium bid. We would start implementing another solar-gas-storage hybrid and solar-DG-storage system integration project by the end of Q1.
What are your expansion plans for India and the global markets?
Hybrid power, along with battery storage, has gained traction in recent years due to the inherent benefits of facilitating power predictability, serving 24 x 7 energy needs with optimization of fossil fuel-green energy mix, reducing the carbon footprint. According to a report, the global hybrid energy, including the storage market, is projected to be about $40 billion by 2025. Our parent SP Group is present in 60 countries. The S&W portfolio is spread in India, Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, and the Caribbean.
Over the last couple of years, our solar business has expanded into North, South America, and Australia. The expansion plans for the HES business include leveraging S&W’s existing worldwide presence. However, the focus is on specific markets like South Asia, Africa, South East Asia, and Australia in the medium term. This is based on the assessment of each market in terms of the regulatory framework, policies, energy scenario, T&D scope, and trends. We have built domain expertise in hybridization and storage, and these operations are spread across four locations, in addition to India.
What steps should the government take on the policy front for promoting hybrid energy storage in India?
India’s resolve to achieve 175 GW renewables capacity by 2022 will help build a new energy security architecture in the country. And, this transition can be enabled through robust policy implementation and availability of utility-scale battery storage services.
How do you see the hybrid energy storage industry growing in the coming years in India?
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has stated that based upon the availability of land and solar irradiation, the potential of solar and wind energy in the country is around 750 GW and 300 GW respectively. However, the current installed capacity of Solar and Wind in the country 35 GW and 38 GW respectively, as of February 2020. At present, close to 63 per cent of the total installed capacity is being met by thermal energy and around 23 per cent through renewable energy, while hydropower accounts for almost 12.5 per cent.
This points to the urgent need for further exploitation of renewables sources of energy, and hybrid and energy storage should be integral to this scheme of the framework. The clear trend in the recent past, which is expected to only grow, is that the demand for electricity will be met more through renewable energy (RE) installations. The economics of solar and wind power today definitively outweigh thermal power generation, and this is a huge lever, in addition to governmental push towards RE. While intermittency and unpredictability are known limitations of renewable energy, hybridization mitigates these issues effectively. An existing solar installation, for example, can integrate wind to make it capacity-efficient and likewise, a wind farm can accommodate solar installations on the same land parcel.
The unutilized energy can be stored in a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) and used whenever required. Storage provides a flexible source and load to mitigate voltage regulation limitations and, hence, once the hybrid set-up is connected to a BESS, it becomes a truly robust and viable energy source.