India Utility Commissions Largest Battery Energy Storage System in South Asia

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India’s Tata Power, AES and Mitsubishi recently commissioned what the project partners say is India’s first, and South Asia’s largest, grid-scale battery-based energy storage system (BESS) — a 10 MW-10 MWh system supplied by Fluence, a Siemens and AES company.


By Pretty Vectors/

Connected to a substation owned by Tata Power subsidiary Delhi Distribution (Tata-DDL), the lithium-ion BESS can store and dispatch electricity to consumers in milliseconds. Its speed and capacity enhance grid stability, reliability and resilience and allows the utility to better manage transmission and distribution to more than 2 million consumers, according to the companies.

Enables interaction of minigrids, microgrids

Tata Power-DDL distributes electricity to some 7 million consumers in north and northwest Delhi. Tata Power, AES, Mitsubishi and Fluence began discussing the project in late 2016. AES and Mitsubishi are joint owners-operators, said Manish Kumar, AES managing director, energy storage.

“For India’s transmission and distribution grids, energy storage provides the capability to create unbreakable and self-healing networks that enable the interaction of microgrids, minigrids, and fully distributed generation…Energy storage adds much needed capacity, which ensures there will always be power available to meet peak requirements,” Kumar told Microgrid Knowledge.

The project employs Fluence’s Advancion Energy Storage Platform. The installation is made up of 31 Advancion nodes with a total capacity of 10 MW-10 MWh, as well as room for more should conditions warrant, Kumar explained.

“These independent, modular nodes incorporate pre-certified batteries and inverters with Fluence’s patented controls, and are architected in a massively parallel design — offering customers the highest level of reliability and availability, similar to the world’s best data center systems,” he said.

In addition, Advancion’s control system supports a large number of storage applications that can be controlled by Tata Power-DDL on-site, remotely or by integration with an external energy management system, Kumar said. “This application is very similar to an installation Fluence delivered for Arizona Public Service,” he added.

The project will provide the utility with the chance to gain experience in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of utility-scale BESS with an eye towards broader-based adoption, Kumar said. More specifically, he cited:

  • Opportunities for substation investment deferral
  • Management of peak load (i.e., peak shaving)
  • Reducing AT&C losses (i.e., energy resources that cannot be billed for)
  • Frequency & voltage regulation
  • Renewable integration, i.e., provide peak power to support the evening ramp in grid demand
A significant leap forward for Tata Power and clean energy in India

The ability to deploy utility-scale BESS in months — compared to years for pumped hydro-power storage or natural gas- or coal-fired power —  could also boost India’s universal electrification drive, according to Tata Power.

“Energy storage is needed in India with its ambitious vision to increase renewable energy generation to 225 GW by 2022,” Kumar said. “There’s a great deal of variability in renewable generation — the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Energy storage helps transmission and distribution network operators, such as Tata-DDL, manage that variability and reduce congestion on the transmission system, enabling the delivery of more affordable and clean energy.”

Deployment of distributed, renewable energy capacity is leading towards a cleaner, more sustainable future in India and globally, Kumar added. The zero marginal cost of solar and wind power, along with their variable, intermittent nature, poses fundamental challenges for profit-driven utilities and businesses across the energy sector value chain, however. Energy storage offers a solution to those issues, he noted.

Furthermore, today’s BESS provide a unique tool that gives large energy users the ability to control when they consume grid power or power from on-site, distributed generation, Kumar continued. ‘That reduces volatility and gives them greater control over their fuel and energy costs and reduces their overall economic and operational risks. ”

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It also safeguards customers from outages and the potential for lost revenue and equipment damage.

“If an outage occurs, energy storage can quickly and efficiently operate in islanded mode and can be paired with generation to ensure continuous operation,” Kumar said.

AES, for its part, sees a huge opportunity in India’s nascent BESS market. “AES believes India is going to be a big market for energy storage, presenting a potential investment opportunity of $50 billion that could help integrate renewable energy into the grid, replace polluting diesel-fueled power, and boost reliability and resiliency,” Kumar said.

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