Storage Solutions Can Change the Outlook of India’s Telecom Industry: Atul Arya

Storage Solutions Can Change the Outlook of India’s Telecom Industry: Atul Arya Atul Arya, head energy systems, Panasonic India

Storage solutions can change the outlook of India’s telecom industry by enabling integration of renewable energy and providing future expansion of rural telecom reach, for small cell cities and energy management services on the cloud, believes Atul Arya, head energy systems, Panasonic India, an Indian arm of Japanese electronics major. In conversation with Manu Tayal, associate editor, Saur Energy International, Arya shared his views on various topics related to his company’s product offerings such as urban microgrids, future expansion plans, scope of energy storage market etc. Here’re the excerpts from that exclusive interview published in the Saur Energy International Magazine’s August 2019 edition:

Q. What is Panasonic’s Urban Microgrids and how will it help in fortifying the energy infrastructure in India?

Atul Arya

Atul Arya, Head Energy Systems, Panasonic India

We have recently introduced urban microgrids, hybrid Energy Storage Systems (ESS) with end to end solutions for the Indian market. The integrated solar power microgrids feature efficient, reliable, and intelligent power storage solutions to power up urban residential and commercial areas. With its usage apt across multiple applications such as self-consumption, peak shaving and energy arbitrage, the microgrids provide complete solutions enabling uninterrupted power supply to enhance power distribution.

Urban microgrids are essential to the energy ecosystem in the country as it not only decentralises the distribution system but also makes it local. It offers a better system for energy distribution and is economically more viable for the end consumer, while also reducing carbon emissions.

Q. What are the key benefits of this Hybrid ESS with integrated solar power solution? And who are the target customers?

Panasonic’s intelligent hybrid Li-Ion ESS has numerous advantages such as stable power output, backup power source during outages and most importantly a significant cycle performance along with an efficiency rate of more than 95 percent leading to large recovery of the stored energy.

The solutions come with unique remote monitoring and data analytics feature over webpage and smartphone platforms.

A single microgrid by Panasonic has the capacity to light up multiple homes and buildings, and generate power. The proposed system offers multi-faceted benefits in the operation as follows:

  • Reduce/eliminate dependence on grid; continuity of load.
  • Superb cycle performance and highly efficient (> 95 percent) leading to large recovery of the stored energy.
  • Solar self-consumption system. Time of use tariff scheduled charging and energy arbitrage.
  • Renewable energy source leads to a lesser carbon emissions and thus promote sustainability.

The market opportunity is huge and we plan to partner with utility companies providing services to commercial buildings such as hospitals, hotels, malls, industrial buildings and construction industry not just in India but also South East Asia, Middle East and Africa.  We recently collaborated with BYPL, the leading utility company to provide services in the Delhi region. Through this partnership, we aim to create energy storage capacity of 60 MWh over the next three years which will not only help with grid stabilization, management of peak power demand but also reduce diesel consumption of 4.3 Million litres and 11 thousand tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Q. How do you see the impact of this solution on Panasonic’s further expansion into energy solution business?

Our energy business is one of our key strategic pillars to drive growth in the country and we have recently expanded our portfolio across mobility solutions and microgrids with the recent launch of Urban Microgrids.  We have been steadily ramping up our energy business and with our strong legacy of producing cutting edge technology products and R&D capabilities, we believe, we are uniquely positioned to cater to this growing demand of providing sustainable and end to end energy solutions in the country. With the new microgrid solution that we have launched, we expect it will help us further fortify our presence in the energy storage solutions market. Microgrids help ease the strain of the larger grid system by allowing entire sections of the grid to disconnect entirely and operate independently. This flexibility not only helps lessen the effects of larger grid incidents but also improves uptime for the individuals and businesses within the microgrids service area. The newly launched system by Panasonic consists of Li-ion batteries, hybrid bi-directional inverters, solar charge controllers, EMS and other supporting equipment. The grids will be available in multiple energy storage options: 5kW, 10kWh, 6kWp solar. With this, we aim to build a robust energy storage capability in the country.

Q. How do you see the growth of India’s renewable energy market till date? What kind of future opportunities this market will offer in next 2 to 3 years down the line?

India is investing steadily in renewable energy and microgrids are at the centre of this growth. One clear factor driving this industry is the government’s increasing focus on sustainable energy and programs around electrification for all. Electrification at affordable rates has been a key focus for the government during its budget announcement, and this will bring greater avenues and opportunities in the market. According to Climate Scope, India ranks second in a list of over 100 countries on its preparedness for investing in renewable energy. Rooftop solar alone is estimated to represent a USD 23 billion investment opportunity in India as per Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The country has the world’s largest auction for renewable energy, and has recently embarked on major incentives for renewable energy development, including microgrids. Furthermore, many opportunities will come with the expansion of the renewable energy market. Storage solutions can change the outlook of India’s telecom industry by enabling integration of renewable energy and providing future expansion of rural telecom reach, for small cell cities and energy management services on the cloud. Panasonic Microgrids are independent of any power source and we are hopeful that the industry size will double to Rs 120 crore in the next couple of years with further steady growth expected for the next 5 years.

Q. What is your outlook on the energy solution through microgrids in India?

Distributed generation is the quickest and most economical method for providing electricity to rural India. However, the major challenges involved for the establishment of a micro grid segment in the country have been reliability of storage and operation & management of multiple installations. To assist with this challenge, we have introduced a solution called ‘Off Grid’ 2.0, an offering which is ready for grid connectivity and when the need arises, add on tools for management of multilocation, grid connected distributed generation systems can be provided on demand. Owing to greater focus on infrastructure development by Indian Government and with power deficit in few areas, diesel consumption is poised to grow at 6 percent in FY201920; around 18 percent of which would be in non-transport and building sector. This increased consumption would result in increased emission resulting in poor air quality and pose health hazards. Microgrids have large potential of offsetting this emission from diesel by providing critical backup or mitigating the diesel usage by means of multiple cycling per day. E.g. A microgrid penetration of 50 percent in the building sector would result in reduction of diesel consumption by 0.63 MMT per month of the overall 7MMT per month. With a factor of 3.186 kg CO2/kg Diesel, this is equivalent to reduction of 2MMT of CO2 equivalent emission per month.

Q How much revenue is Panasonic targeting via urban microgrids solution in next 3 years?

Panasonic has an increased focus towards solar renewable energy and the solution works as a backup to store extra energy generated during the day.

Panasonic India is dedicated towards establishing a firm position in setting up robust energy infrastructure. We have made significant investments for competency building in terms of development of high capacity solution range, compliance certifications, and automation & data analytics.

We have already deployed this product at BSES Yamuna and in Jharkhand with an aim to make energy accessible to the local communities and they have seen considerable improvements in efficiency and better management of power supply. We are in talks with similar other players to deploy our solution.  We are keen on collaborating with the Government of India and various utilities on its initiatives around electrification and developing sustainable energy eco system.

Q. How suitable is the regulatory framework and market structure for energy storage in Indian renewable sector? In terms of cost per kWh of storage, where do you see prices in 2020? The impact of storage price drops in India?

With India aiming to set up 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022, it is important to make improvement in storage technology, making it more energy efficient with easy integration with the grid. Energy storage can easily support transformation of our grid infrastructure to integrate renewable energy with lower initial investment.Furthermore, to strengthen Government of India’s recently launched National Energy Storage Mission, we will continue to support on behalf of the storage sector and wait to see the outcome of the policy measure. Energy is a key focus area for the company, and we will continue to make adequate investments in resources towards addressing this. The National Storage Mission will help us prepare a roadmap for India to leverage its size to produce innovative, competitive multi-modal mobility solutions to be deployed globally.

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Manu Tayal

Manu is an Associate Editor at Saur Energy International where she writes and edits clean & green energy news, featured articles and interview industry veterans with a special focus on solar, wind and financial segments.