Atul Arya, Head Energy Systems Division – Panasonic India

“We see a lot of potential in application of energy storage across Indian Railways.”

Mr. Atul Arya

Mr. Atul Arya, Head Energy Systems Division – ‎Panasonic India

The solar storage sector has emerged as a wakeful technology wherein it is echoing solar + storage as the next big thing. Amid, government recent helm to pilot MW projects with storage, this sector is rejigging the innovation-driven companies’ stimulus. To name one is Panasonic; the company has decisively benchmarked its position compelling to rethink on the rock-bottom market sentiments of lead-acid batteries.  In an effusive conversation with Mr. Atul Arya, Head Energy Systems Division – ‎Panasonic India  traversed Niloy Banerjee, Associate Editor – SEI across the nitty-gritty of Indian Solar Storage Sector and pinned Panasonic’s role to edify the next big wave of Li-ion technology in the Indian solar market. Excerpts.

  1. Solar sector in India is today reiterating Gigawatt, what opportunities do this pragmatic unit of power keeps for Panasonic India?

At Panasonic, we believe in creating a clean, unbreakable grid that fuels India’s economic prosperity. Infact, we are running “100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project” globally, that has reached passed its halfway mark with the cumulative number of solar lanterns donated exceeding 50,000 on March 10, 2016. Through this Panasonic aims to donate 100,000 solar lanterns by 2018 to offer relief to communities stricken by large-scale natural disasters or by epidemics.

In India Panasonic has successfully completed supply of 2.9 MW of Photovoltaic Module HIT™ to a large sanitary ware manufacturing company in India (for its roof top project) and now executing ~2 MW roof top project for the same customer on EPC basis. Additionally, we have also successfully completed and commissioned 700kWp of roof top power plant on EPC basis with the photovoltaic modules for a large IT company in South India and currently, executing an additional ~1 MW of roof top plant for the same customer in western India.

  1. What are the key nuggets of AES and Panasonic India’s strategic partnership in India?

Panasonic has been working in the “Energy Storage Solutions” space in India since FY 2013.  We are the market leaders in supplying lithium-ion batteries to telecom sector as well as multiple other mission critical applications. We have recently partnered with AES India Private Limited to further strengthen our position in the market and ensure a continued supply of energy across the aforementioned mission critical areas such as hospitals, hotels and data-centres.

At Panasonic, we aim at transforming the energy storage infrastructure to deliver more value from the initial investment, while ensuring a clean, unbreakable grid that fuels India’s economic prosperity for decades to come.  For instance, we have been monitoring potential growth in lithium-ion batteries and their usage in ATM’s during power outages. Here, Panasonic has partnered with NCR – a global leader in ATM machines. By 2020, we have set ourselves a target of supplying batteries for 100,000 machines in the country

  1. Which sectors and the key technologies primarily the company aims to cater in the Indian market?

The top five segments that are vital for Panasonic’s Lithium-Ion energy storage business are:-

  • Mobile Phones / Smart Phones / Tablets Industry
  • Telecom Back Up Systems
  • Portable Hand Held Devices – POS, Power Drills, etc.
  • Automotive Applications like Lawn Movers / Golf Carts / Ebike
  • Solar Street Lights

Meanwhile, for Lithium Ion Battery Performance, the most important aspect is to understand the conditions in which the Battery is going to be used. So, we first check the Application Condition for e.g. Automotive is the most stringent. Followed by Out Door Applications and then followed by High Load Conditions, These operating conditions drastically affect the performance of the Lithium Battery Performance. As a thumb rule, we simulate the Conditions and then decide the Critical Parameters / Envelope for the Performance of the Battery. At Panasonic, we do not compromise on the safety of the product. We rather degrade the life of the battery than taking any risk on the safety of the usage.

  1. Many big names are been gossiped to enter the Indian market soon. Panasonic India has a long-driven market in India, what will be your strategies to be upfront with the emerging competition in the Indian storage ecosystem?

At Panasonic, whether it is about application in solar installations or, EV charging stations Panasonic’s smart energy storage solutions are customized to meet all requirements.

Some of the many useful benefits of implementing a Panasonic system are:

  • Stability – Energy storage systems act as a stabilizer for fluctuating electric power.
  • Scalability – Comprised of storage batteries and control units to manage charging and discharging, storage systems are suitable for a variety of applications.
  • Reliable resource – When an outage occurs, power from the storage system can be used as a backup energy source.
  • Cleaner form of energy storage – By simply storing and recycling electricity, energy storage systems have no direct emissions.
  • Savings – Energy storage systems help customers avoid premium pricing during peak demand.
  • A forward facing solution – Storage shifts consumption forward for optimal energy management.
  1. Rooftops in India and now even MW solar projects are opting for high-optimized power storage technologies to stabilize the sporadic energy flown from Grid. How is Panasonic India aiming to provide consistent energy regardless of the instable grid’s behavior?

At Panasonic, we cater to energy requirements in 3 broad categories:

  1. Small scale – applications in Telecom, Banking, ATMs; 5-15 KW
  2. Mid-Size scale – applications in Buildings, Industrial segments; 100KW – 1MW
  3. Large scale applications; 5MW<

Panasonic’s smarter, more secure power grid, energy storage and energy management system balances power generation to demand, reduce the potential for blackouts, and integrate current energy sources.

  1. Indian practices a strict certification procedure to qualify the battery through the tests corresponding to capacity, efficiency of watt-hour and amp-hour, and charge retention shelf life irrespective of type/capacity of battery. How the company does accomplish the regulations?

Globally we follow UL, VDE, CE, JIS, etc. besides our own Internal Testing standards and procedures. We also Test and Certify our products from Case to Case basis like TUV. In India recently BIS has been introduced and we are ensuring all our products are compatible with this.

  1. What are the current or proposed projects of the company?

We are currently working with Banking and Telecom sector players. We see a lot of potential in application of energy storage across Indian Railways.

  1. A large portion of the Indian market is still driven by Lead-Acid batteries because of its application, pricing etc. How do you think Lithium-ion will make its mark in the Indian market?

Lead-acid batteries although easily accessible are relatively less efficient and unsafe than a Li-ion storage. Meanwhile, we at Panasonic safety is the prime factor that needs to be taken care of. The safety level of the battery has to be at an optimum level and Panasonic’s separator technology contributes to improve the safety. Furthermore, the designing of the cells and the batteries is such that it ensure the safety of the battery module. The advancing of cathode and anode material technology contributes to improve the stability and the energy density.  The recyclability of the charge and discharge is also improved with advancing those electrodes and electrolyte.  Charging method is also improved and it leads to the higher recyclability.

  1. Lately, SECI has afoot to integrate ‘Storage’ in large-scale solar projects, through its latest tender of 100MW in Andhra Pradesh, The Govt. body mandated ‘STORAGE’ for every 50MW of solar and the same has been practiced for a 200MW solar in Karnataka. Alongside, Panasonic 10 MWhr battery array with AES in Haryana has significantly sparked the storage corridors bringing India’s first utility-scale storage project. How optimistic is the company with ongoing projects and what more do you envisage in this sector.

The Indian power market is expected to grow up to 350 GW by 2022, from current installed capacity of 288GW. In addition, there is a target to install 160 GW of solar and wind generation. While this rapid growth in renewables will help improve energy security, increase access to electricity, reduce reliance on energy imports, and reduce air emissions, it will also strain the system, as the current infrastructure is not designed to meet these modern demands. Energy storage can easily transform this infrastructure to deliver more value from the initial investment, while ensuring a clean, unbreakable grid that fuels India’s economic prosperity for decades to come.

  1. What are the key business models of Panasonic India for the indigenous market?

At Panasonic, we have three key priority areas that also reiterates our business model:

  • Creation of demand – across the industry/stakeholders
  • Develop demand
  • Develop and build on capabilities

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