Vedanta Resources Plc is firming up its clean energy plans for India, encouraged by the opportunities offered by the country’s growing green economy. As part of the strategy, the firm is looking at developing battery storage solutions, Ajay Kumar Dixit, chief executive officer, alumina and power business, Vedanta Ltd said on the sidelines of a conference on natural resources organised by Network 18 and the Confederation of Indian Industry. Vedanta Ltd, formerly known as Sesa Goa Ltd, is an Indian mining unit of London-based Vedanta Resources. Such storage solutions would help with grid balancing, besides complementing the government’s push for solar power, which is generated during the day and can be stored in batteries to be made available at night. India plans to generate 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this, 100GW is to come from solar projects.
Dixit said the approach is to look at products from its mining operations to develop effective battery solutions. “Our innovation group is looking at it,” he said. Vedanta Resources’ business interests in India include oil and gas, power, iron ore, zinc, copper and aluminium production. Also, Vedanta Resources, which owns Cairn India Ltd, plans to set up solar power parks at its mining sites given the large tracts of land available for the purpose. Experts say India is not doing enough on developing storage solutions in the country. “China is spurring a huge domestic supply ecosystem for lithium-ion based batteries through demand creation and incentives,” consulting firm Bridge to India wrote in a 14 March note. “Unless India moves quickly and decisively, it runs a very real risk of missing the bus on domestic manufacturing for a very vital technology of future,” the note added.
Other firms looking at developing battery storage solutions include Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. In an 5 March interview, Vedanta Resources chairman Anil Agarwal said the firm will consider a “strategic investment” in the solar sector. “There has been a shift in the solar business. It used to be Rs6 per unit and now it has come down to below Rs2 per unit. That is definitely an advantage. So, we are studying it very seriously and will take the clean energy plans forward,” Agarwal said. India’s solar power sector in February witnessed a record low-winning bid of Rs2.97 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to build a 750 megawatt (MW) plant at Rewa in Madhya Pradesh. The Rewa bid translates to 5 cents per kWh and ranks India at the sixth position globally in terms of the lowest tariff bid awarded. This was due to payment guarantee, availability and price of land, and transmission modalities.
With effective levelized tariff—the value financially equivalent to different annual tariffs over the 25 year period of the power purchase agreement—of around Rs3.30 per unit at Rewa, the solar power has become a competitive energy source vis-à-vis coal-fuelled conventional source of electricity due to the lower cost of raising finances, and solar module prices plunging. This assumes importance given that India receives solar radiation of 5 to 7 kWh per sq. m for 300-330 days in a year. Vedanta Resources also plans to spend $10 billion over the next three years across its businesses, of which $8 billion is earmarked for Indian operations.