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MR.VINEET MITTAL VICE CHAIRMAN, WELSPUN RENEWABLES Batteries: Redefining the Clean Energy Paradigm For a long time, solar power has suffered the myth that it is only useful during the day. In the prevalent technologies, at average irradiance, utility scale solar plants silently power grids during the day and turn obsolete in the night. But as the battery storage technologies evolve, the solar energy landscape is poised for a quantum leap. In India, even 25 years after liberalization, the rhetoric that prosperity is in spending and not saving, is yet to find many takers because we have an age-old tradition of storage and preservation of our resources – land, gold, food grains etc. For centuries, storage has been synonymous with asset creation. We believe that storage is critical. It is probably time to put this philosophy to good use to accelerate growth of renewable energy in India. Literature on the power sector is full of clichés around how renewable energy cannot attain parity with conventional resources, particularly solar power. But in the last two years and particularly in the last six months, the world has witnessed the dramatically declining cost of solar power generation. This trend will continue to gain momentum with advent of low-cost batteries. For a long time, solar power has suffered the myth that it is only useful during the day. We are on the brink of busting this myth. In the prevalent technologies, at average irradiance, utility scale solar plants silently power grids during the day and turn obsolete in the night. But as the battery storage technologies evolve, the solar energy landscape is poised for a quantum leap and light homes 24 hours a day. Once cost-effective and high capacity batteries become a reality, we would not be far from achieving India’s 100 GW solar power target (40 GW of which is rooftop solar for which batteries are critical). This will also finally eliminate erratic, irregular and weather-dependent from the renewable energy dictionary. Batteries will allow the grid to power streets even when the Sun has turned its face around or when wind has stopped blowing. A few years ago, even such a thought was inconceivable. What solar energy, backed with storage systems, can do must not be underestimated. A number of small and large, developed and developing nations are today demonstrating that solar grid parity and a sustainable green future are not ideas of the past, but a contemporary living reality. Despite ordinary irradiance levels, Australia added a rooftop solar system every 2.8 minutes in 2014. Its rooftop solar capacity has crossed 4 GW capacity (more than India’s overall solar capacity). Battery-supported rooftop solar capacity in Germany, which crossed 8.5 GW mark this year, has achieved grid parity. Israel is banking heavily on solar power since it strategically vulnerable and a massive attack could demolish its grid infrastructure. Surprisingly, the Minister of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia, the country that is sitting on an overabundant fossil fuel reserves, recently announced that the country would be moving into solar and wind power to the tune of $16 billion. Many developed economies including the USA is looking at a 20% renewable energy target in its energy mix which is difficult to achieve without a strong battery infrastructure. It would be appropriate to draw a parallel between India’s mobile phone revolution with the work-in-progress solar battery revolution. An outgoing call through a mobile phone cost whopping Rs 16-Rs 25 at inception and therefore remained the luxury of a few. But the public-private partnership in the telecom sector, competitive market policies and technological advancements drastically brought the costs down. The mobile revolution not just facilitated cheap communication, but subsequently empowered communities across the strata in unimaginable ways. This revolution was possible because one, mobile technology did not require connectivity with telephone towers (enabling wireless connectivity) and two, users could customize the phone according to their personal calling, messaging and data needs. Today, newspapers, television, internet and radio have all converged into a single device – For a long time, solar power has suffered the myth that it is only useful during the day. We are on the brink of busting this myth ENERGY STORAGE 30 energética INDIA · NOV | DEC15


energetica-india-54
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