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Modi to tap Tesla for solar battery solution

Posted: 23 Sep 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Powerwall  solar power  Make in India  solar electricity  lithium-ion battery 

Indian solar electricity planners have long been plagued by power storage problems, so when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Tesla Motors this weekend, he will most likely seek solutions regarding this matter, Live Mint reported.

Storage is critical in order to utilise solar electricity, which can only be generated during daytime. With India receiving solar radiation of 5kWh to 7kWh per square metre for 300 to 330 days in a year, the country is indeed fit for solar power generation.

Modi's government recently revealed a large-scale solar power programme, and a cost-effective battery storage model for Indian conditions could be a game-changer.

In July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Powerwall, a lithium-ion battery that recharges using electricity that solar panels generate. The energy stored in the device can be used as a power source for industrial and home applications or as a back-up energy source. It can also help to reduce grid power consumption during peak electricity hours when grid power costs more.

"Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency back-up," Tesla said.

With this device, Modi hopes to achieve his government's plan of adding 100,000MW of solar power by 2022 with 40,000MW each from rooftop and distributed generation projects.

One major problem remains—costs. India's new norm is ₹5 per kWH, but the Tesla Powerwall is available to installers at ₹2.23 lakh ($3,500) for 10kWh and ₹1.91 lakh ($3,000) for 7kWh, excluding inverter and installation costs, the report said.

According to consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, lithium-ion batteries will be the leading technology for grid-connected, utility-scale systems over the next two to three years. In addition, the grid-connected battery energy storage system market will see growth in revenue from ₹2,929.94 crore ($0.46 billion) in 2014 to ₹52,866.24 crore ($8.3 billion) in 2024.

India is the third biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the United States and China, but renewable energy accounts for only 13 per cent of India's total installed power capacity of 275,912MW.

Apple visit

Other than the Tesla visit, the Indian PM is also set to meet Apple CEO Tim Cook, according to a report from the Economic Times. Modi is expected to discuss with Cook the Make in India and Digital India initiative of his government.

Modi will invite Cook to consider investing in manufacturing and R&D in India. Apple, on the other hand, has already expressed its interest on setting up R&D activities here, the report cited a source familiar with the matter.

Modi will be in the United States from Sept. 24-29 to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York, then he will fly to Silicon Valley in California.

- Stephen Padilla

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