Lighting up from the sky - solar-powered rooftop batteries

Lighting up from the sky - solar-powered rooftop batteries

The union ministry of power has proposed the tie-up with MIT under the Indo-US Science & Technology Forum to develop the prototype storage battery into a commercial product for meeting India's growing energy demand.

The proposal was discussed during the visit of US Energy Secretary Steven Chu to India Nov 12-14 under the clean energy cooperation between the two countries.
"We are sending a team of officials soon to the MIT to discuss the proposal, including issues such as IPR (intellectual property rights), royalty and licence to manufacture the product on large-scale at a later stage," Brahma said on the margins of the Indian Science Congress (ISC 2010) that concluded on Friday.

Using solar panels, a rooftop battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy and stores up to 1 MW or one million watts for supplying uninterrupted power to cities, an entire district or a cluster of villages across the country.


"Initially, the ministry will fund a pilot project that will be implemented jointly by the state-run BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd) and NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) at select sites to evaluate the cost and the quality of energy generated to ensure uninterrupted supply to low-tension power users," Brahma pointed out.
The US energy department has offered to help India explore renewable resources such as solar and wind energy to bridge the growing demand-supply gap for power across the country.

"Being a tropical country with sun shining brightly during 10 months a year, 1 MW storage batteries are best suited for India to ensure power supply in secondary cities, towns and villages that are subjected to hours of blackouts in peak season," Brahama noted.

The storage battery can also be charged with wind energy that is available in abundance across peninsular India for most of the year.

"When sunlight is less during monsoon and winters, wind energy can be harnessed to charge the storage battery and maintain power supply to end-users through smart grids," the secretary noted.

Admitting that solar panels and photovoltaic cells were still cost prohibitive and hence economically unviable, Brahma said India would collaborate with MIT for further research and development (R&D) to reduce the cost so that storage batteries become affordable to manufacture, install, supply and charge at a reasonable rate per unit.

"We can supply power from storage battery directly through a local grid on stand-alone basis or pool it with national grid to rationalise its generation cost with that of thermal or hydro power, which are cheaper to produce," Brahma asserted after making a presentation on the power scenario in the country at a plenary session on 'Need for Alternative or Green Energy' on the valedictory day.

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