We Should Soon Witness Large Solar+Storage Offgrid Setups In India.

The electric mobility space has been a hotbed for startups, who saw the opportunity in the green transition. It helped that the transition is calling for a virtual reinvention of multiple aspects of the way mobility was done, right from vehicles, to vehicle batteries, to charging and more. One such startup in the news has been Bhago Mobility, a startup that has been building solutions in the energy storage space, including, what else, Lithium Ion batteries too.

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SaurEnergy caught up with Vipul Duggal, after the firm acquired a stake in another startup, Pastiche Storage Solutions, to strengthen its offerings in the storage space.

Q. What was the driving force behind the current stake buy in Pastiche for Bhago? How did you identify the company?

Vipul Duggal - CEO, Bhago Mobility Solutions

Vipul Duggal, CEO, Bhago Mobility Solutions

Vipul Duggal: Bhago has been working in the Energy Storage Sector since 2019. Over the years, the company has invested in Advanced Cell Technologies, i.e. Solid-State Lithium Batteries and also working on redefining the manufacturing of these advanced technologies.

During our journey, we also felt the need and requirement for in-house development and supply for battery packs and downstream products which would help us to directly cater to our customers exactly as per these requirements.

In India, today, there are a lot of battery pack assemblers but only a few actually understand the exact technology and expertise which is actually required for a sophisticated product such as lithium battery packs.

Pastiche is one of the first movers in the segment and has been in this industry since 2014. Over the years, they have catered to different types of applications such as consumer electronics, medical, solar, electric vehicles, defense, railways, etc. So, they have been a part of the segment and deeply understand not only the technology but also the application.

Pastiche has well-established production and in-house testing facilities, with a trained and skilled team of battery technologists.

Q. You have highlighted your progress with a solid-state battery. How far are we on that path? When do you expect to launch it. What are the key sectors you will target first?

Vipul Duggal: The motto “FUTUREISSOLID” has been inscribed into all of us at Bhago. We are advancing well as per our planned goals and objectives.

Different capacities of cells have been developed and undergoing continuous testing with our Technology Partners and their results are really phenomenal, with extremely high density and reliability, which is much above the conventional lithium-ion batteries today.

The first lot of solid-state cells have already been moved and within June 2022, will be put for testing and validation at Bhago Facility. We also feel the pride and excitement to share that these cells would not only be ours but also one of India’s First Solid-State Cells.

Being a Tier1 Company in the Automotive Segment, since 2015, we are already working on the RFQs from our customers. Apart from these, there are projects under discussion for the Energy Storage Applications too. So the key sectors are well identified and already being worked upon.

Q. How will solid-state batteries from you compare with other options in terms of price, performance, safety, and charging cycles?

Vipul Duggal: Solid-State Lithium Batteries are the new development and advancement over the existing Lithium-Ion Batteries. Solid-state batteries combine the performance of conventional lithium-ion/lithium polymer systems with higher safety for usage and flexibility in form-factor, to target versatile applications

Our Gen1 Solid-state batteries offer a high energy density up to 790Whr/Kg, as compared to 100-260 Whr/kg of conventional lithium-ion batteries.

The absence of a liquid electrolyte in all-solid-state lithium batteries simplifies the packaging and reduces dead weight in the battery, resulting in improved energy density. Our solid-state batteries which use proprietary solid electrolytes are completely inflammable, thus making them completely safe and extremely reliable.

On the other performance parameters, our solid-state batteries offer a wide operating temperature range and enhanced cycles.

Within June 2022, Bhago would be amongst the 1st players in the Indian Market to physically demonstrate their Solid State Battery Cells and start to conduct rigorous inhouse testing and validation of these cells, subject to different applications and segments.

Q. What are your key goals for 2022-24 period for the firm now?

Vipul Duggal: In the year 2015 the company had already set its long-term goals for the green mobility segment, following which in 2019, Bhago Mobility Solutions was incorporated and during the years the company has invested into advanced cell technology.

In the year 2020, the company envisioned its short term goals in the green mobility segment, following which, in 2022, a strategic investment has been made into Pastiche Energy Solutions, thereby bringing onboard not only an eight-year experience and skills but also the diversified customer profile that Pastiche has been serving, such as consumer electronics, medical, solar, electric vehicles, robotics, energy storage etc.

As a first stage, Bhago is fully focused and inclined toward its existing operations and channels for developing and supplying advanced battery solutions to its Global and National Automotive OEMs.

In the further stages, Bhago shall be expanding and diversifying its product range and battery solutions for other segments such as energy storage, defence, aerospace, etc.

Q. Do you believe we are well prepared in India for the EV transition being proposed? What are the key challenges?

Vipul Duggal: Change is as natural as Life. When change happens by choice we see it as an opportunity. When change hits us unexpectedly we can also see it as an opportunity to improve what needs improvement and change what needs to change.

Considering the current global concerns for fossil fuels, carbon emissions, etc which pose a great threat to our future generations, the Transition towards EV is one small gesture our generation can offer to the future.

Yes, today India is not fully ready for the EV transition and the major threat and concern lies in the lack of R&D and technology development being done in our country.

Whether it is the EV Vehicle by itself or its battery solution or charging system, substandard and unreliable products, at low prices are strongly being marketed and promoted, with the lack of any regulated or designated policy control or standards.

The key challenges that we understand would be the lack of technical understanding of the products and validation of these products (electric vehicles, motors, controllers, batteries, chargers, wiring harnesses, etc) to stringent global standards.

Another major challenge would be the price sensitivity of the consumer, because of which a superior technology or product, which may offer better performance, reliability and safety, would not be easily accepted or promoted.

Q. We can see a spate of start ups and other large firms in the storage space today, with many raising funds too. How do you see the funding environment to remain? Will it get bigger or stabilise at current levels?

Vipul Duggal: A strong financial backing has always been the backbone for any business entity.

In today’s scenario, there has been a transitional shift towards electric vehicles and energy storage solutions, which has resulted in lot of new-generation startups in the segment. Some of the startups have been successful in developing and delivering a technology rich product or solution.

Many financial, private and family bodies have also invested in various technologies through different startups or companies, at different levels. In the coming years, the funding scenario will surely be on a rise and there surely would be some exceptionally large fundings too. The scenario can be anticipated to stabilise, once the segment becomes technology developed and there is a standardisation across products.

Q. What are the battery chemistries you expect to see being used by 2030 in the storage sector? And specific segments they will be used in.

Vipul Duggal: That surely is a difficult question, to which any answer would not do complete justice. As on date there are several chemistry and technologies which are being worked upon.

Lithium Ferrous Phosphate has recently gain good volumes and recognition in the storage segment.

A lot of R&D and manufacturing establishments are being made Globally towards Solid State Batteries.

A few projects have also been setup towards Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Cells, Aluminum Batteries, Sodium Batteries, SuperCapacitors, Lithium Ion Capacitors, etc.

Q. We have seen how solar+storage has really caught on in the US, Australian and European markets now. Do you see India following soon? Or will costs be a deterrent?  When will it make sense for a solar +storage offgrid setup in rural areas?

Vipul Duggal: Considering the developed status for the US, Australian and European markets, the solar + Storage solutions have been so popular and accepted there. India surely is following and with the new stringent policies being drafted which are directed towards Carbon Neutrality and Low Emissions, so the segment shall soon start to pick momentum.

Initially cost can surely be expected to be a deterrent, but as volumes scale up and the technology becomes more mature and standardised, cost benefits and price drops shall be witnessed, thus giving a major boost to adoption and deployments.

For the rural areas, several Government schemes have already been launched and delivered for Rural Electrification such as Solar Home Lighting Systems (Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojna) and Solar Street Lighting Systems (Atal Jyoti Yojna) and many more.

For the offgrid segment, several projects have already been launched and some are also nearing completion. So overall, we should soon be able to start witnessing large solar+Storage offgrid setup in India.

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