Clean Tech

A forward for backup

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on September 01, 2015

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Acme’s EcoGrid battery is a homegrown challenger to Tesla’s PowerWall in energy storage

Down the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, approximately five kilometres off Exit 7, lies an unassuming office complex that could be the answer to one of the key challenges to India’s renewable energy push.

The facility, which is the headquarters of Acme Cleantech, is one of the first buildings in the country to run entirely off a stack of Lithium-Ion batteries — the same kind that power your smartphones and laptops.

Acme’s EcoGrid battery stack is entirely silent, produces no noxious fumes and occupies a fraction of the space required for a comparable diesel genset. According to Daiva Prakash, Head of R&D at Acme, the system at Gurgaon can store 270 kWh of power, which is enough to run the building at full load for an hour.

Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are variable by nature. They do not consistently produce the same amount of energy all the time and cannot be amped up to meet peak demand when required. Despite the acceleration of large-scale renewable energy generation the world over, the fact remains that without a viable way to store energy generated from renewable sources for later use, clean power will never be able to emerge as a credible mainstream alternative to fossil fuels.

According to Samir Sharan, CEO of Acme, energy storage has a big role to play in India's renewable drive. “Currently, excess generation is sold cheaply. Or reduced generation due to less demand at times underrates the capacity utilisation. Energy storage solutions help fill a lot of these gaps,” he said. The India Energy Storage Alliance estimates the market potential of energy storage in the country at over 15 GW through 2020.

Internationally, Elon Musk’s Tesla has captured most of the attention in this space with its PowerWall. Acme’s EcoGrid, which is assembled in Uttarakhand, costs ₹3.5 lakh for a 6.6 kWh unit. This appears to be more expensive than Tesla’s offering which works out to about ₹2 lakh for a 7 kWh unit. But if you look at the fine print, Tesla offers only the battery at that price, whereas Acme’ billing is inclusive of other components such as an AC-DC converter without which a battery isn’t of much use.

In Sharan's view, the only stumbling block for the EcoGrid is the initial cost. But he hopes that the 10-year life span of the product and near zero cost of maintenance will push more customers to give it a chance.

Like Tesla, Acme also offers customised solutions with higher capacities for industrial use. “Our plan is to start from 1 MWh in this financial year and we will move to 50 and then 100 MWh by 2017,” he said.

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Published on September 01, 2015
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