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Space Technology to Fast-track Prime Minister Modi’s Energy Access goals in India

Space Technology

India Energy Storage Alliance announces collaboration with European Space Agency to explore applications of space technologies for accelerating energy access in India

Microgrids – distributed systems of localized generation, distribution network and load – are being increasingly deployed particularly in rural areas of emerging and under-developed countries to achieve energy access. Approximately 87 % of the people without electricity live in rural areas characterized by remoteness and sparse population density. The traditional approach to serve these communities by extending the central grid has been proven to be ineffective due to a combination of factors such as capital scarcity, insufficient energy service, reduced grid reliability, etc.

India has been a pioneer in rural microgrids since the 1990s, however there is significant progress to be made despite rapid advancements in technologies like solar PV, energy storage and affordable LED lighting solutions. India Energy Storage Alliancfaste (IESA) estimates that India has installed over 2000 AC microgrids of over 5 kW and over 10,000 DC microgrids with majority sizing less than 1 kW.

There are many challenges, which have restrained growth of this sector including numerous financial, technical and social limitations. Project operators on several occasions do not have clear answers themselves to recognize why microgrids are prematurely failing or operating at lower efficiencies. Interestingly, funding agencies, investors and equipment suppliers are often surprised by sudden news of failure of assets or technical audit reports undermining poor functionality of mini-grids or microgrids. As it could be guessed, these microgrids are remotely monitored with manual reporting or not monitored at all. And hence, inaccessibility of data in this case has led to lack of analysis and knowledge generation.

In many of the cases, project owners and operators are not to be blamed as poor telecom connectivity and high cost of remote monitoring at remote locations has plagued data acquisition and analysis. India Energy Storage Alliance, with its vision of making microgrids economically sustainable by understanding and addressing common modes of failure on its MICRO platform and the European Space Agency (ESA), with its aim of bringing satellite communication technology for the bottom of pyramid application to create a net social impact, have partnered to resolve this problem statement.

In collaboration with IESA, the European Space Agency is now launching a new initiative to support feasibility studies which identify and explore business opportunities for deploying services based on Satellite Communications, Earth Observation data, and/or other space assets to support the decentralized management of microgrids in India and other developing countries. The study is expected to culminate into a funded microgrid pilot project demonstrating the potential of above services. Requirements from Indian microgrids stakeholders will be collected by IESA and provided by ESA to the consortia whose proposals are accepted.

India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) has recently launched the “Microgrid Initiative for Campus & Rural Opportunities (MICRO)” whose main goal is to reduce electricity cost for microgrid consumers by 30-50% within next three years through technological & policy innovation. MICRO aims to develop microgrids as an enabler for economic transformation of regions currently suffering due to poor access to electricity. The IESA team believes that microgrids in India, has vast potential to transform the economic landscape in rural India as well as provide improved power quality for consumers in urban townships to critical infrastructures like hospitals and university campuses. To achieve this dream, the sector would need to be organized. The MICRO portal (http://micro.indiaesa.info/) that brings together microgrid developers, technology providers, financing partners and local community was launched at a workshop at IIT Bombay on 19th August 2016. IESA is also working with partners such as Global Energy Storage Alliance and Alliance for Rural Electrification to extend this initiative to Asia and Africa, offering a tremendous commercial opportunity to developers and service providers.

To know more details about the IESA – ESA partnership as well as the MICRO initiative, join us at “Energy Storage India 2017” the 4th international conference dedicated to energy storage and microgrids in India. The theme of this conference is “Moving from Vision to National Energy Storage Mission”. The Energy Storage India event will be held in Mumbai during Jan 11th – 13th, 2017 and is supported by MNRE – Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India and US Department of Commerce. Main conference will feature key sessions covering Regulatory & Policy Framework, Renewable Integration, Microgrid, Smart grid, Smart Cities, C&I applications, Utility applications, electric vehicles & e-transportation, MAKE IN INDIA as well as Financing & Investment. This year’s pre-conference workshop on 11th January will feature special workshops on Microgrids, Advances in materials and Safety Standards, Testing, Certification & Recycling of energy storage devices.

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