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India begins its ESS journey as spectre of coal shortage haunts power supplies

Mon, 10/18/2021 - 15:02 -- paul Crompton

India’s government has begun proceedings to deploy 1GWh of battery energy storage system capacity— in the week a coal shortage could disrupt 70% of the country’s power mix. 

Solar Energy Corporation of India— a central public serve undertaking under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy— has called for the expression of interest for procurement of 1,000MWh of battery energy storage (BESS). 

A request for solution (RFS) bid document and the draft comprehensive guideline for procurement and utilisation of BESS is due to be discussed during a pre-bid conference on 28 October. 

Based on the suggestions and the feedback from stakeholders, the final RFS document will be floated in the first week of November, along with the final comprehensive guidelines for procurement and utilization of BESS as a part of generation, transmission and distribution assets and with all ancillary services.

Going forward, India plans to use ESSs under following business cases:

  • Renewable energy along with the energy storage system
  • Energy storage system as grid element to maximize the use of transmission system and strengthening grid stability and also to save investment in the augmentation of transmission infrastructure.
  • Storage as an asset for balancing services and flexible operation.  The system operator i.e. load dispatchers (RLDCs and SLDCs) may use storage system for frequency control and balancing services to manage the inherent uncertainty/variations in the load due to un-generation.
  • Storage for distribution system i.e. it may be placed at the load centre to manage its peak load and other obligations.
  • As a merchant capacity by the energy storage system developer and sell in the power market
  • Any other future business models as a combination of the above.

The EoI is part of a road map for the installation of the energy storage systems in the country by the country’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Power 

India aims to meet its 450GW renewable energy target of Ministry of New and renewable energy by 2030, which must be complimented by energy storage including: batteries and pumped hydro.

Energy crisis

Most of India’s power plants run on coal, but according to reports, more than half of the country’s 135 coal-fired power plants are running low on the fossil fuel— some as low as two-days worth and at least 17 of its power stations had levelled to zero of their supplies, according to India's Central Electricity Authority (CEA). 

The power stations generate nearly 70% of the country’s power supply. 

The country, the second largest producer of coal after China, still imports a lot of coal to meet its huge demand.

A cause of the shortage could be down to increased demand following a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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