Could the grid stymie India’s storage plans?

Pumped hydro might not be the best option for long-term storage in India (pic: animam.photography).

Pumped hydro might not be the best option for long-term storage in India (pic: animam.photography).

 

By Jason Deign

Doubts over the strength of the grid have called into question a USD$17.2bn plan to build 10GW of pumped hydro storage in India.

Central Electricity Authority chairman SD Dubey unveiled the five-to-six-year pumped hydro programme last month.

The administration would be adopting pumped hydro to store excess power from India’s growing renewable energy sector because the storage medium is cheaper than batteries, he said.

But being able to store energy in pumped hydro reserves depends upon getting it to the dams in the first place.

And observers have questioned whether India’s grid is up to the task, particularly since it is already groaning under the impact of solar energy. 
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Another reason for energy storage

A very interesting article from Gigaom.com crossed our radar yesterday. If its information is reliable (and there’s no reason to doubt it is), it provides a solid case for selling energy storage as a way to avoid spending on massive generating capacity that is rarely used.

The argument runs roughly like this: on most days, California’s electricity demand ranges between about 23GW and 36GW, but occasionally peaks at over 40GW, although this only happens for 70 hours in a year. In order to meet this peak demand, California has to supply the power that would be generated by 20 nuclear power stations. Of course, some of this capacity is idle a lot of the time.

Clearly, the current centralised type of energy grid that has to build huge, expensive generation plants to supply power for a total of less than three days a year is highly wasteful. A more flexible, distributed system, with plenty of energy storage, would be a much more effective way to keep the lights on.