Viz-A-Viz with Atul Arya, Head, Energy Systems, Panasonic India

Q. How Panasonic is contributing towards India’s clean energy initiative?

The management philosophy of Panasonic is based on the belief of its founder Konosuke Matsushita, who said: since a company runs its business by borrowing people, things, money, land, and so forth from the society, a company is “a public entity of society”. Following this philosophy and advice from founder to make contribution to society, we have been working in the “Energy Storage Solutions” space in India since FY 2013. We have been offering lithium-ion battery-based energy solutions in India for the last three years, to reduce diesel consumption in telecom infrastructure and other segments. We have already accumulated over $100 million in revenue from the telecom vertical alone in the country.

Q. Could you elaborate our readers about Panasonic India’s foray into new storage solutions?

Atul Arya

Atul Arya, Head, Energy Systems | Panasonic India

Since the inception of the Panasonic India’s energy storage solutions division in 2013, the company traditionally has supplied its storage solutions to the Telecom and ATM banking sector. We have now started to explore opportunities in the space of general commercial and industrial buildings.

This includes warehouses and commercial factories which cannot afford to shut down because of sudden power cut. We are also supplying batteries to data centres that need a highly reliable power backup. Lithium-ion batteries are also preferred in this market segment because they are compact, very high efficiency, negligible heat loss and possible to monitor performance & diagnose in real time. Long life of these batteries reduce O&M and replacement costs and efforts to negligible values.

Further we have also begun or voyage within the Rural Microgrids segment as well, with our solution called ‘Off Grid’ 2.0. This offering is ready for grid connectivity and when the need arises, add on tools for management of multi-location, grid connected distributed generation systems can be provided on demand.

Q. What is the company’s current Telecom led energy storage business, and its future plan of action?

Until now we’ve been supplying lithium ion batteries to within the telecom tower segment, to companies such as Reliance Jio, Indus Towers and ATC Towers. We have supplied storage batteries to over 40,000 telecom towers across the country, and command a market share of 35% within the mid-size segment.

Going forward we are looking to introduce our state of the art Compact Business Power Solution – the CBPS 8000. This single cabinet solution essentially houses all the imperative functional tools in a single box which manages power requirements at the site comprehensively. With the introduction of this solution we are looking to expand our market share within the segment to 50% in the next 2-3 years.

Q. Due to lack of adequate electricity storage facilities in India, around 15-20% of renewable energy produced is wasted. How Panasonic is making its contribution towards the current power infrastructure of the nation?

We are looking to tackle this issue with the use of Lithium ion based battery, which have emerged as the technology of choice as they out perform all the other competing technologies in terms of size, capacity, efficiency, and environmental impact. The efficiency of lithium ion based batteries is in upwards of 90%, and something we use in all our storage solutions across.

Q. As Panasonic has transformed its approach from productcentric to a solutions provider, how it will be helpful in shaping the company to align with global objectives of growth in the renewable energy sector, given its increasing B2B focus?

At a global level there are two pillars which are driving growth for Panasonic Corporation’s B2B arm, they are Energy Systems and connected solution. The company is devising a similar proposition in India as well, as it expects to generate 50% of its revenues from B2B in the next 5 years. Energy systems is a critical component of this increased focus, hence why we have decided to expand our energy storage solution offerings to different sectors.

Q. How you reckon the energy storage industry to grow in the coming 5 years and key trends which will in parallel shape the industry?

Further, key drivers for utility/renewable energy storage systems in India will be:-

  • High % of Renewables in Generation

o Generation Variability & Unpredictability

o Grid reliability management difficulty

  • Continual increase in power peak shortage

o Generation and demand don’t happen at the same time

o Transmission & Distribution Network limitations

  • Captive power plants management

o Demand fluctuations management in island mode

o Response time of thermal power plants is slow

Q. How has been YoY growth for Panasonic and any key announcements which the existing and prospect customer base shall await in 2018?

On a year on year basis, Panasonic India’s energy storage business has been growing at 45%. Further we’re looking at rolling out our energy storage solutions for Data Centres by Q2 of FY 2018-19.

Q. How suitable is the regulatory framework and market structure for energy storage in the Indian telecom sector?

Current regulatory framework needs many new amendments to help kick start storage projects. Ancillary services as yet don’t have battery storage systems included. Similarly tariff policies today will need to evolve in recognizing need for time of the day tariff to manage demand as well as support growth of storage industry. Recent discussions with Hon’ble Minister of power Shri R.K. Singh indicate that new renewable projects will have storage too for firming up and peak shift.

Q. How soon will India think beyond Lead-Acid to welcome to newer, efficient and innovative technologies?

Is Panasonic working on any newer technologies? We have been using lead Acid batteries for very long and they will find relevance in some applications going forward too. However more and more applications will migrate to LiB soon. This will happen when users start to appreciate benefits of LiB and higher capex are capable to provide a very low Total cost of ownership (TCO) and make their businesses more nimble and efficient. We have been successful in articulating this to many customers and our success rate is very encouraging. We are a 100 year old organization and innovation has been constant through this journey. We will continue to work on new technologies and products.

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