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Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma* 

If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.
But who cares about such strategic issues in our country? No one feels accountable to provide clarifications on such intricate issues. No one even raises the issue of the absence of a national energy policy to meet our energy needs at the lowest overall cost to our society on a sustainable basis.
Different agencies in the energy sector all seem to be going on their own preferred pathways without any cohesion, or long term objectives.
No doubt, the recent news that the Delhi Regulator has approved BSES Rajdhani's Battery Energy Storage Project can be seen as a pleasant and welcome surprise for the observers of the power sector in the country.
This approved BESS project with a capacity of 20 MW/ 40 MWH, and proposed to be connected to an 11kV substation on the grid, should clearly indicate the techno-economcially credible options avaialbel to our country to optimally harness the enormous potential RE sources with the help of associated energy storage technology of BESS.
This approval by the electricity regulator indicates to me that the said BESS project is found to be a techno-economically attractive option, and that it is essential/necessary for the satisfactory operation of the grid. It is also worthy of notice that it will be connected to an 11kV substation on the grid, which can satisfactorily address multiple concerns to our power system engineers.
Delhi Regulator having approved BSES Rajdhani's Battery Energy Storage Project can be seen as a pleasant and welcome surprise
Taking this technological option to its logical conclusion, probably, the most critical question in the present scenario to be asked of the Union power Ministry is: what are the issues/ concerns preventing our authorities to consider such BESS in most of the distribution grid substations, and bring multiple and huge benefits to our communities from the huge potential of renewable energy (RE) in our country.
Some of the associated benefits from such BESS at distribution grid substations are: they will hasten the addition of roof-top Solar Photovoltaic Technology (SPV) and any other distributed kinds of RE sources in a massive scale; will lead to massive improvements in voltage profile and hence in the reduction of technical losses; avoiding the need to divert massive chunks of lands to set up additional RE dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage projects; active participation of end consumers to share the costs of the development of electricity infrastructure in the country; massive benefits in avoiding/ preventing the need to divert forest lands to set up pumped storage projects; assistance in better management of the grid operation etc.
The Union government should ask Central Electricity Authority of India (CEA), NITI Aayog, Powergrid, Power System Operation Corporation Limited (POSOCO) and other related entities to urgently commission necessary simulation studies of relevance at the national level, and take all the associated initiatives on a priority basis to take our country on the associated path of sustainable development.
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst



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