In an interview, Anshul Gupta, Director, Okaya Power Group tells POWER TODAY that energy storage system will be a key saviour,as the grid might not be able to support the entire power requirement.
Elucidate the potential for energy storage in a country like India?
India has been at the forefront of technological advancement amidst the rise in average income levels and the growth of the neo-middle class which have together led to tremendous growth opportunities in the country. Along with the opportunities comes the need to upgrade infrastructure, which includes data centres, grid stability, and smart city along with new clean and green energy initiatives to replace traditional fuel usage. Consequently, since energy storage is essential in supporting all these developments, it is vital for India to develop a robust energy storage industry.
As demand matures, in your opinion, which sectors will drive the expansion of the storage market in India?
Many key segments will contribute hugely to the energy storage systems (ESS): telecom, UPS, inverters, data centres, and many more. However, according to me, the arena that is so far unrecognised is cold storage. Milk and fruits industries have been seeing a staggering CAGR of over 18 per cent per annum.
But how will it increase the ESS share?
Interesting question; but, here's why: If the milk and fruits industries are growing, cold storage spaces will need more branches and capacity to accommodate increasing volumes. That, in turn, will place a huge demand-load on the grid.The grid might not be able to support the entire requirement, which is where the energy storage system will be a key saviour.
What is the general feedback that you receive during your various interactions with potential customers?
Honestly, when we head out to meet our customers and understand their problems, a lot of discussions with respect to technology and its corresponding costs take place. Interestingly, customers with long-term vision have started accepting the costs for deploying energy storage solutions. Additionally, we have developed lithium and VRLA hybrid system solutions for price-sensitive customers.
What are some of the new technologies that you might be looking at introducing in the market?
Apart from lithium battery technology that we majorly used in NMC and LFP batteries, we are working on lithium titanate batteries for some key areas and critical operations. In the coming years, we shall be launching silicon-doped lithium batteries with better efficiency and affordable costs! Our R&D team is constantly improving and connecting with world leaders in technology to offer tailor-made solutions to the challenges faced by the Indian market.
Are things on track, as far as provisioning of trained manpower and setting up of manufacturing facilities for storage solutions are concerned?
Okaya Power Group has been manufacturing energy storage systems for the past 33 years. Swiftly moving from conventional lead acid to lithium-based energy storage systems, we have already set up and commissioned our plant in November 2017 for the new technology. However, initially, we faced numerous challenges in terms of both getting the right, skilled manpower and training them. So far, internal trainers have been working on the training part. We have taken up the matter with Skill Development Council of India (SDCI) to include and strengthen training of the youth to meet the upcoming requirement of the industry. We have even suggested making it a part of the curriculum in colleges to develop the right talent for this blooming industry.
What are some of the main challenges facing the manufacturers of storage solutions?
The challenges that lie ahead of us turn out to be a great opportunity for our product development teams. There are issues such as adverse temperatures across India, price sensitivity, and even the training of the team members-we have been taking all of these positively, and working out to create more opportunities out of all the challenges. We have been spreading awareness among our customers and getting trained manpower for the entire industry, including manufacturing, servicing, installations, as well as sales. Together with the support extended by the government, the industry is set to transform the scenario of storage solutions.
Does the country have the potential to become an important manufacturing hub for energy storage solutions?
Absolutely! India houses many leading energy storage companies, which support and supply not just within India, but internationally as well. One such example is of Okaya, where we have been supplying systems in India, apart from making niche products for the international markets. Our products are being supplied to more than 25 countries internationally.
What is your outlook for the storage segment in the near term?
As I just explained, the storage segment in India is all set to grow in leaps and bounds. It has already started making rapid strides in the renewable energy arena.
- RAHUL KAMAT