November 11, 2021: Exide Industries, one of India’s largest lead battery manufacturers, has decided to focus on microgrid installations to make the most of what it believes is a ‘huge, huge potential market for energy storage’, R&D president Dipak Choudhury told delegates at the Asian Battery Conference in early November.
With India’s drive towards ramping up its energy storage capacity — the government has put up billions of dollars of cash for battery firms to install storage – the race is on for battery makers to submit tenders.
To make the most of the government’s $2.5 billion PLI (production-linked incentive), which is technology agnostic, battery makers have to meet certain criteria, such as committing to sourcing a certain amount of materials from within India and meeting minimum performance thresholds.
Chaudhury said the aim was to have a stationary storage market of 230GWh by 2027, 15% of which would be grid scale, the rest behind-the-meter storage.
“We are developing lead-acid solutions for small to medium capacity,” he said. “We are currently limiting our solutions to a range of between 50 kWh to 500kWh. Mostly what you hear is MWh, but we think we need to go there step by step.”
Because of the size and diversity of India’s geography, he said small-scale storage systems for smaller, more remote households and offices could be made a ‘far more optimal solution for the energy storage capacity of this country’.
He said he was absolutely confident that what Exide had been working on for the past two to three years would be ‘the most cost-optimal solution’.
“With India’s social and political impetus to go towards rural electrification, and given the size and diversity of the geography of the country, taking transmission lines all across the country is a far more difficult and challenging situation — so the best option is to go for microgrids,” he said.
Every home or small office has battery back-up because of the unreliability of the grid, and these were almost entirely lead acid. Chaudhury cited a typical case study with the agricultural village of Adhaura, in north-east India, which has around 70 households with an average load of 117W.
The village is backed up with a tubular lead battery that can deliver 10 kW-15kW for six hours, a size and capability ‘that has become almost a standard expectation for microgrid applications’, he said.
Exide’s batteries, he said, can withstand extreme seasonal temperatures of up to 46oC, and last for more than 10 years.
“As many as 8 million blocks like this are going onstream every year — which works out at up to 14GWh of storage a year,” he said. “With a little bit more effort this could be made a far more optimal solution for the energy storage capacity of this country.”