Panasonic and Indian Utility Team up to Roll Out Urban Microgrids

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Panasonic and Indian electricity utility group BYPL recently installed four solar-plus-storage-based urban microgrids on rooftops at the utility’s offices in the Delhi region, piloting what development partners expect will be many more to come.

urban microgrids

By THANIT PKC/Shutterstock.com

The partnership’s microgrids offer 5-7 kW of solar with daily battery energy storage capacity ranging from 7-10 kWh.

A huge market opportunity

Panasonic India and BYPL, which supplies electricity to about 1.6 million customers in East and Central Delhi, intend to work closely with commercial and industrial companies to deploy similar systems behind the utility meter in the Delhi and beyond. All told, Panasonic anticipates installing 60 MWh of smart battery energy storage capacity in partnership with BYPL over the next three years.

“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 the construction industry not just in India but also South East Asia, Middle East and Africa,” said Atul Arya, head of energy systems, Panasonic India.

Urban microgrids can make a big contribution to the decentralization and decarbonization of India’s power system, according to Panasonic.

Additional microgrid energy services will be rolled out over time to improve utility grid stabilization and overall management capabilities. Microgrids will be used to avoid network congestion and bottlenecks and provide ancillary grid services, such as voltage regulation.

Microgrids central to renewables strategy in India

“India is investing steadily in renewable energy and microgrids are at the center of this growth,” said Arya. “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 union budget announcement, and this will bring greater avenues and opportunities in the market.”

Diesel consumption is expected to increase 6% in fiscal year 2019, even as  India’s builds more infrastructure, which is expected to increase energy use.

“This increased consumption would result in increased emissions, poor air quality and pose health hazards,” Arya said. “Microgrids have large potential of offsetting these emissions from diesel by providing critical back-up or mitigating diesel usage by means of multiple cycling per day.”

First steps for the pilot

They four urban microgrids in the pilot feature direct current solar PV, lithium-ion batteries, hybrid bi-directional inverters, and smart, adaptive microgrid control and energy management software. The microgrids can disconnect from the utility grid and operate autonomously when the grid goes down.

Early project results show the solar PV systems meeting 92% of projected site load

“Microgrids help ease the strain of the larger grid system by allowing entire sections of the grid to disconnect entirely and operate independently,” said Arya.”This flexibility not only helps lessen the effects of larger grid incidents but also improves up-time for the individuals and businesses within the microgrids’ service area.”

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