India’s renewables revolution needs what other countries are fast adopting: water battery
Pumped hydro energy storage can pave the way for India’s climate leadership by enabling another green revolution, this time in the power sector.
Progress in energy storage will soon mean energy security for India, as the country races ahead with large renewable power commitments. Already fifth in the world in renewables, India now says it will exceed its 2022 target of 175 gigawatts of installed renewable capacity. Speaking at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed his nation to more than doubling that target, to 450 gigawatts.
Yet, regardless of total capacity, we know discontinuous power is inadequate power. Wind and solar technology can generate electricity only when the wind blows or the sun shines, and green power that floods the grid and then recedes puts immense pressure on transmission systems and end users alike. Balancing this fluctuating supply is the lynchpin of a clean energy future, and the key to achieving that balance is reliable and efficient energy storage.
India hasn’t moved as swiftly on storage as it has on generation, however, leaving its lofty green commitments incomplete. The government has conducted only sporadic lithium-ion storage tenders and pilot projects, and there have been only small-scale storage experiments in the private sector.
But this delay in adopting a formal energy storage target like the one for renewable generation may be a blessing in disguise. As competing storage technologies have matured, India is positioned to pick and choose to build a diversified storage mix that best suits its renewable energy strategy. Now, a technology in widespread use elsewhere, but which has received relatively little attention in India, is getting a second look for its efficiency and feasibility: pumped hydro energy storage—essentially a water battery.