Eos Energy Storage

Ending Energy Poverty in India with Solar Battery Systems

Lead Organization

Eos Energy Storage

Edison, New Jersey, United States


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Project Summary

India, as one of the world’s largest and most rapidly emerging economies, sits at the intersection of two major challenges: (1) how to provide reliable electricity to approximately 235 million people in rural communities who currently lack access and (2) how to control the environmental impact of powering such a large and expanding economy. Historically, deployment of solar mini-grids has been cost-prohibitive due to the high cost and limited life of conventional batteries. Eos is seeking to end energy poverty in India by deploying solar battery systems integrating its safe, sustainable, and cost-effective zinc battery. Eos will setup local manufacturing to deliver a standardized solution, provide training to develop skilled laborers, and will partner with communities and local businesses to install and maintain solar battery systems across the country. The proposed project will bring clean energy to impoverished residents in India, create jobs, and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Problem Statement

There is a groundswell of opinion that solar is the ideal renewable energy technology for most of India. There is also strong evidence to suggest that decentralized solar plus storage in mini grids offer the best modality for implementing solar power systems in the rural areas. Unfortunately, there are a number of hurdles that are preventing this from becoming a large-scale reality across India: (1) Solar power and battery storage, despite having dropped significantly in cost, are still considerably more expensive than conventional sources like coal; this can make it difficult for the government to choose solar over coal. (2) The cost of solar plus storage systems are also too high relative to what low-income rural consumers in India can afford in electricity bills. Also, the absence of affordable appliances for low-income households and enterprises (e.g., refrigerators, irrigation pumps) severely restricts demand for electricity, which in turn exacerbates an already difficult economic equation for utilities hoping to invest in the technology. (3) Significant capital investment is required to form production and economies of scale, making it very difficult to achieve cost targets. (4) Lead-acid batteries—the default technology for energy storage in developing countries today, has significant technical challenges that limit usability. (5) “Smart” meters for electronically monitoring and managing usage are too expensive, largely due to the small size of the current market. These challenges may force the Indian government—as with governments around the world—to choose between affordably providing electricity to its people and controlling its environmental footprint.

Solution Overview

The Indian government and its utilities are working towards a solution to electrify the country but have not been able to act fast enough to come up with a feasible solution on their own. Public Private Partnerships are a strong channel Eos plans to tap into to expedite the delivery of clean affordable power. Eos’ Aurora energy storage solution helps bring down the cost of renewable electricity by combining its batteries with solar generation on a dc-coupled basis and act as a steady supply throughout the day and evening hours after the sun has gone down. Eos plans to utilize India’s developed partner channels for electrical products to form a more affordable and rural India specific operating solution that is more affordable than what is found in the West. India has a number of homegrown manufacturers capable of producing many of the necessary components of solar power systems, at scale. Typical Western-made inverters tend to be far more expensive and of higher quality and are not essential for typical use in rural mini grids in India. These homegrown solutions will provide a true cost benefit with Eos’ affordable battery. Eos believes this is achievable on a large scale and a perfect geographic environment for its battle tested durability and long asset life of its product compared to lead-acid. The cheaper material cost at scale over lithium-ion and reliable wide temperature operating range from -10C to 50C without costly heating or cooling systems is a major sell for Eos’ project success.

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