SECI Kick Starts Storage Push With Notice for 2 GWh Tender

Highlights :

  • This will be the first stand alone storage tender by SECI, when it comes.
  • The announcement comes when authorities have been slowly putting together the full framework to enable a large battery eco system on the regulatory front.

In a surprising move, the Solar Energy Corporation of India has issued a notice intimating its plans for a 2000MWh storage tender. The notice mentions that the final tender would be out by august 31, 2021.

This seems to be the first ever storage only tender from the government agency, and follows NTPC’s expression of interest call earlier for a total of 1000Mwh of energy storage options at its various power plants across India.

The SECI notice also follows the announcement by Power and MNRE Minister R.K. Singh at a conference last week, that India would shortly go for about 4 GWh of grid scale large batteries.

A number of announcements and moves have set the ground for this new focus on large batteries, not the least of which is expectations of a drop in costs as well  as changes made to the conditions regarding PPA’s with thermal plants that are over 25 year old. With discoms allowed to exit such PPA’s, and the possible passage of the electricity act in this session of parliament, the case for battery storage will be much stronger now.

Over the next 2 years, it seems to predict that many discoms will look beyond thermal power to meet not just their renewable purchase obligations, but also exlore more renewable power as it is cheaper than thermal options in many cases today. Especially for plants located a distance away from mining pit heads or coal landing points.

The structure proposed by SECI, a 25 year PPA  with the selected bidders from the RFS, is probably a legacy issue for now, as large battery technology providers and developers might have been good with a 15 year PPA too, with more flexibility on monetising the storage available, especially from ancillary battery services. The state has been set for that too, with the CERC issuing draft guidelines for rules on Ancillary battery services.

Thus, piece by piece, the scene seems set for a serious battery deployment starting 2023 possibly.

In Doing so, India will be following a global trend that has picked up noticeably in Australia, the US, and now even China. As the share of renewable in grids worldwide goes up, large batteries are expected to play a key role in balancing the grid, as well as providing back up power at a time when renewables drop down due to weather conditions.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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