Rapid growth of the renewable energy sector in recent years has thrown up challenges for Distribution companies forcing the Centre and the State governments to consider new models of development.

One such could be gigawatt-scale battery back up projects for which tenders are likely to be called by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). This is expected as some Discoms have expressed difficulty in managing spikes in renewable energy output and balancing it with conventional projects.

Bigger mix

In some cases, where the mix of solar, wind and hydel has shot up by 15-30 per cent, the Discoms find balancing the power generated from various sources a challenge. The infirm nature of power, lack of round-the-clock dependability and non-availability during peak hours is forcing this change, sources close to the development explained.

Also, some of the older projects have been implemented at higher tariffs of about ₹5-6 a unit.

Renewable energy generation accounts for about 34 per cent of total installed power generation capacity of about 350 GW. What is worrisome for Discoms is that the new capacity additions in future will account for 60-70 per cent.

The per capita energy consumption is about 1,000-1,200 units, about one-third of global average, but the demand growth has been tepid. In absolute terms, the growth is barely 2-3 per cent and during peak it is 10 per cent, due to commercial and residential demand growth.

States lead

The Discoms are now keen on 24x7 power and some States such as Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are in the process of tendering for battery back up solutions. So far there have been few pilot initiatives with battery back up of 5-10 MW.

AP has received good response to its tenders, and several States, including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, with big renewable portfolios, are planning battery back up solar projects.

According to experts in the power sector, India needs about 15-20 GW of renewable energy storage back up to ensure 24x7 power.

While renewable energy capacity addition has become commoditised and can be rapidly deployed, ensuring that it meets the requirements of Discoms during peak demand and gets assimilated seamlessly is the challenge.