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Indian authorities 'evading' discussion on battery energy storage system

By Shankar Sharma* 

In the larger context of the ever growing need and importance of renewable energy sources for a sustainable energy/ electricity sector in our country, the critical role of energy storage systems, especially the battery energy storage system (BESS), is being emphasised frequently at the global level, such as the one by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Unfortunately, our authorities in India seem not to attach the same level of importance, which the BESS deserves.
Much of the discussions in our country, if any, on the energy storage systems, seem to focus on pumped storage hydro power and large scale transfer of power across the regions through high voltage lines. 
But such discussions never seem to take cognisance of the enormous ecological and social costs/ consequences of these two technologies to the larger society, and they also seem to provide only a passing mention of BESS, despite the fact that BESS, as a technology, has enormous significance for our country in its purported smooth transition to green & sustainable energy scenario. 
 Instead of considering how to make BESS a widely used and techno-economically attractive technology, the concerned authorities/ entities/ individuals seem to focus only on the nascent problems associated with such an emerging emerging technology. The fact that many countries, such as Australia, and large provinces like California, have already deployed massive capacities of BESS, and are reaping the associated benefits are rarely mentioned in such discussions.
A recent Supreme Court judgement on the threats to the highly endangered species of Great indian Bustard due to a few high voltage lines proposed in their unique habitats in Gujarat and Rajasthan to evacuate power from a few large size solar/ wind power parks, should have made our authorities to diligently review the recent past policies associated with the planning of a large number of high voltage power lines all over the country; including the ecologically sensitive areas such as WildLife Sanctuaries.
At a high level, there is a need to objectively review the very need for so many additional power lines, especially those dedicated for solar and wind power parks, and those routed through high value forests. 
There is a need to review the need for so many additional power lines, especially those routed through high value forests
Such an objective review will enable our planners to avoid many of these lines, and most of the pumped storage hydro project proposals, if the critical relevance of distributed kinds of renewable energy sources to our country, such as roof-top solar power systems are optimally harnessed.
The apparently evident reluctance of our authorities to objectively take into account such multiple and credible options wih regard to electricity demand/ supply scenario in the country, are also leading to a scenario wherein the unacceptably costly options such as massive size coal, nuclear and hydro power projects are being pursued without any rational discussions, even as late as 2024. 
Sadly, even the media discussions on such issues can also be seen as endorsing such irrational policies without objective deliberations.
A discussion paper sent to CEA in the form of invited public comments on its draft National Electricity Plan Volume II, Transmission (years 2022-27) has highlighted many of the associated issues of importance.
Whereas, it is deplorable that such credible feedback from civil society groups/ individuals are rarely, if ever, acknowledged by our officials (let alone commenting on them), I hope they are, at least, acted on.
So much for the oft repeated slogan: "sub ke saath, sub ka vikaas, sub ka vishwaas".
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst. This article is based on the author's representation to the Secretary (Power) and the Secretary (NRE), Government of India



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