The Indian energy storage industry recently took a major step forward with the announcement of tenders for up to 750 MW of new solar PV capacity with a requirement to include energy storage. The Solar Energy Corporation of India, a state-owned entity that is helping to drive the country’s ambitious National Solar Mission, is looking to ensure this new variable generation capacity can be smoothly integrated onto an already unstable power grid. The structure of this requirement indicates that every bidder for solar capacity into the project will have to include a small energy storage system (ESS), likely determined by a set percentage of PV capacity. While this program is still in the early stages with many details not yet announced, it is expected that new storage capacity could total 100 MW.
According to Navigant Research’s Country Forecasts for Grid-Tied Energy Storage report, India is expected to be the fourth largest (and an incredibly fast-growing) market for storage worldwide in the coming decade. Nationwide deployments of storage are anticipated to increase from 110 MW in 2016 to 4.1 GW by 2025. Several key factors are driving the market for energy storage in the country, perhaps most notably the ambitious National Solar Mission. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a national target to install 100 GW of solar PV capacity by 2022, which would make the country one of the largest solar power markets in the world. India’s rapidly growing population, particularly in urban areas, is driving the need for increased investment in both electricity generation capacity and transmission and distribution infrastructure across the country.
Recognizing the Need for Storage
Although the Indian government agrees that adding energy storage to new PV plants can add significant costs to the final price of delivered electricity, it recognizes that the greater control provided by storage is becoming increasingly necessary to operate the grid. The rapidly growing amount of renewable energy on the national grid combined with the significant potential for natural disasters to disrupt grid operations is making a more flexible and resilient grid enabled by energy storage a necessity.
This announcement of tenders is an important development for the global energy storage industry, as it represents one of the first times grid operators in a large country are requiring energy storage to be included with new PV plants. Although this type of requirement has been introduced in countries with smaller grids such as Puerto Rico, India will be the largest grid to recognize this need for storage. Grid operators in India admit that their system has a much lower tolerance to integrate variable forms of energy generation compared to other regions. Similar requirements are likely to be introduced in other areas around the world as the penetration of renewable energy increases. However, the rate at which energy storage will be needed to help maintain grid stability in each country will vary significantly.