Interview (Dr Rahul Walawalkar)

Dr Rahul Walawalkar,
President at India Energy Storage Alliance

“How important a role will energy storage play in realizing the Indian vision of sustainability-covering renewables, EVs and energy efficiency?”

India has the potential to deploy over 300 GWH of energy storage by 2022. Electric vehicles, behind the meter and grid scale energy storage are key applications to help the Indian government meet wind and solar targets as well as meeting the energy access goals. We are already seeing the inflection point for deployment of energy storage in commercial EVs such as e-rickshaws and distributed applications to displace diesel usage. EV market would be driven by 3 wheelers and commercial transport vehicles during next 5 years.

“What are the current technology trends in energy storage?”

India has a huge market for conventional technologies like lead acid and is valued at $5 billion USD market for lead acid. With high life cycle, high efficiency and stiff price reduction, Li-Ion is giving a tough competition to current lead acid technologies. Over the years, Li-ion batteries have evolved from LCO, LMO, LFP, NCA, NMC and emerging technologies like LTO, Li-Air and Li-Sulphur.

Other technologies like flow batteries (VRB, ZBR), Sodium based battery, Zinc –Air are also emerging applications.

“How attractive will the Indian market be in terms of size in the energy storage niche?”

The current size of the energy storage segment in India is estimated at over 15 GWh which is expected to grow by 8% to 10%year on year.

“What suggestions would you like to give to the government for the National Energy Storage Mission?”

MNRE has drafted National Energy Storage Mission (NESM) to strive towards leadership in the energy storage sector by creating an enabling policy and regulatory framework that encourages deployment, innovation and further cost reduction through multiple strategies. NESM has set a realistic target of 15-20 GWh of grid-connected storage within the next five years.

There should be a 2-3 year window where imported energy storage and EV components can be offered at lower import duties to fuel demand. Government can layout a clear road-map for increasing import duties over 3-5 years as it can provide incentive and time for companies to set up domestic manufacturing for key components such as li-ion cells, BMS, power electronics and EV drive train components.

TADF (Tech acquisition development fund) incentives to be extended across all applications of energy storage deployment
Energy Storage also needs to be considered as “Green Technology”, enabling to obtain the following incentives as already defined in the national manufacturing policy.

•Enabling 5% interest in reimbursement & 10% capital subsidy for the production of equipment/machines/devices
•A grant of 25% to SMEs for expenditure incurred on audit subject to permissible limits
•A 10% one-time capital subsidy for units (practicing zero water discharge) and rebate on water cess
•Tax benefits on R&D expenditure, duty concessions for R&D imports

“What role do you see for Indian Energy Storage Alliance [IESA] in the growth of energy storage in the country?”

IESA was started because we believed that energy storage technologies can be a game changer for India’s electric grid and transportation sector. We started with just 5-member companies in 2012 and today we have 90+ member companies. At that time, there was little awareness of advanced energy storage technologies and its applications among industry and policy makers in India.

In India, over the past 6 years, we worked diligently to create awareness about energy storage technologies, business models and policies. Apart from this, we have also done initiatives to create industry capabilities and help IESA members to help develop business. India has already seen over 1 GWH of deployment of advanced energy storage technologies for distributed applications, and the market is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

In 2017, IESA has upgraded its mission to make India a global hub for R&D and manufacturing of advanced energy storage and EV technologies by 2022.

“Do you see India developing as a manufacturing hub for energy storage?”

The cost of batteries has come down drastically in the last 5 years. Electric vehicles are creating a big demand and due to this demand the cost will further come down. India is expected to attract investment in up to four ‘Gigafactories’ for advanced Li-ion batteries, attracting over US$3Billion in investments in the next 3 years. Recently, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Libcoin are in discussion to form a consortium to build India’s first lithium-ion battery (LIB) gigafactory. The proposed plant will initially have a capacity of 1 GW-hours but would be scaled up to 40 GWh in the due course. Earlier, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) in collaboration with Toshiba and Denso announced to set up a Lithium-ion battery production facility purely dedicated to automobiles in Gujarat. Exide announced their plans to set up Li-ion manufacturing with two different partners. Apart from this, there are at least 4-5 other large industrial consortium who are trying to finalize their plans for manufacturing in India.

Various private players have shown their interest in setting up the manufacturing base which includes EXICOM, Bharat Energy Storage Technology, RASSI group and others. For Electric Vehicle adoptions, townships, SEZs and private companies should take an active role in adopting energy storage.

KIA Motors have invested $2 billion in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh spread across >500 acres. Mahindra, Tata motors already launched their 4 Wheeler EVs in India and others are in the race.

TECO Electric will be investing $50 million (approximately Rs 356 crore) in Devanahalli, Karnataka for the first phase of a project to develop engines for EVs.

Interview 28/03/2019 by Moulin
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