The Demand for Storage Technologies in Energy Transition
Pathways Towards 100% Renewable Energy for India
Ashish Gulagi, Dmitrii Bogdanov and Christian Breyer
Lappeenranta University of Technology, Skinnarilankatu 34, 53850 Lappeenranta, Finland
Corresponding author email: Ashish.Gulagi@lut.fi
ABSTRACT: The initiatives taken by India to tap its renewable energy (RE) potential have been extraordinary in
recent years. However, large scale deployment of renewables requires various storage solutions to balance
intermittency. In this work, a 100% RE transition pathway based on an hourly resolved model till 2050 is simulated
for India, covering demand by the power, desalination and non-energetic industrial gas sectors. Energy storage
technologies used in the model that provide flexibility to the system and balance the demand are batteries, pumped
hydro storage (PHS), adiabatic compressed air energy storage (A-CAES), thermal energy storage (TES) and power-
to-gas technology. The optimization for each time period (transition is modeled in 5-year steps) is carried out on
assumed costs and technological status of all energy technologies involved. The model optimizes the least cost mix of
RE power plants and storage technologies installed to achieve a fully RE based power system by 2050 considering
the base year’s (2015) installed power plant capacities, their lifetimes and total electricity demand. Results indicate
that a 100% renewable energy based energy system is achievable in 2050 with the levelised cost of electricity falling
from a current level of 57 €/MWhe to 42 €/MWhe in 2050 in a country-wide scenario. With large scale intermittent
renewable energy sources in the system, the demand for storage technologies increases from the current level to 2050.
Batteries provide 2596 TWh, PHS provides 12 TWh and gas storage provides 197 TWh of electricity to the total
electricity demand. Most of the storage demand will be based on batteries, which provide as much as 42% of the total
electricity demand. The combination of solar PV and battery storage evolves as the low-cost backbone of Indian
energy supply, resulting in 3.2 – 4.3 TWp of installed PV capacities, depending on the applied scenario in 2050. The
above results clearly prove that renewable energy options are the most competitive and least-cost solution for
achieving a net zero emission energy system. This is the first study of its kind in full hourly resolution for India.
Keywords: energy transition, storage technologies, India, 100% Renewable Energy, energy system optimization,
In the next few decades, the role of India in transitioning itself to a net zero emission based energy
system till 2050 as agreed in COP21 will be keenly observed by the world. In turn, its success will be a
major step in restricting the global temperature rise to 2°C. Working towards the COP21 agreement, the
government of India has initiated a radical transformation of the energy sector, especially power generation
from renewable energy sources . The government has set a target of installation of 175 GW of renewable
capacity by 2022 which includes 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind energy. Also during COP21, India
launched the International Solar Alliance, which is a coalition of the countries located between the Tropic
of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn to help transfer and collaborate on solar energy .
In India, population growth, access to modern services, increasing electrification rates and a rapid
growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the last decade have driven a large increase in energy demand
and put pressure on the security, reliability and affordability of energy supply, all of which are strongly
linked to economic stability and development . As of today, imports of oil, gas and coal form a substantial
part in meeting the energy demand, and high dependence on imports of fossil fuels has created a serious
threat to the energy security and environment of the country . To keep up with economic development
and improving the living conditions of the poor, a rapid increase in installed capacities of power generation
sources would be needed without additional greenhouse gas emissions . In 2014, 240 million people in
India did not have access to electricity, while 840 million people relied on wood, crop waste, dung and
biomass to cook in traditional cook stoves, which are the major cause of indoor air pollution and premature
death . Climate change will affect most Indians due to flooding, change in the monsoon cycle and water
scarcity [7,8]. Coal has been the dominating fossil fuel in the energy mix of India . Coal-fired power
plants are associated with high health costs and heavy metal emissions [9-12], which are rarely taken into
account in optimizing the societal cost of energy supply in a region. Therefore, in the future, India will hold
the key for minimizing the impacts of climate change.
The government is taking efforts to curb the effects of climate change and provide electricity for
all in a sustainable way by taking initiatives in renewable power generation and particularly utilizing the
abundant solar potential. According to a research by KPMG , electricity generation from solar power
will find a breakeven to the price of electricity from imported coal in 2015 and domestic coal in 2019. With
the rapid decrease in solar prices, producing power from a new solar plant is cheaper than a new coal fired
power plant . However, large scale deployment of renewables in future would require various storage
solutions to balance intermittency and to create a more reliable and flexible electricity distribution system.
According to the IEA , energy storage offers the required flexibility for the energy systems of the future
as they are capable of overcoming the problem of intermittent supply of the resources. For India energy
storage technologies could bring reliable and uninterrupted basic energy services to remote areas .
For India there is little research yet on the sustainable energy transition pathways into the future
decades or none which has integrated all aspects in the required manner, including storage technologies.
The approach applied in this study is more comprehensive, such as an hourly based model that guarantees
that the total electric energy supply in a year in the sub-regions covers the local demand from all sectors
(which is most relevant during the monsoon season); transmission grid connecting different regions that are
able to reduce the need of energy storage and total costs; and an integrated scenario that assumes demand
by power, water desalination and non-energetic industrial gas sectors.
The transition of the Indian power system from 2015 to 2050 in 5-year time steps was modelled
with the LUT energy system modelling tool. Bogdanov and Breyer  describe the model in detail, giving
equations and constraints used in the modelling. The LUT energy model is based on a linear optimization
of the energy system parameters under previously defined constraints, applied to the system with the
assumptions for the future RE power generation and demand. The main input parameters and outputs of the
model can be found in Figure 1. The full set of all the technical and financial assumptions used in the
modelling of the Indian energy transition can be found in the Supplementary Material (Table 1). The main
target of system optimization for the model is to minimize the total annual energy system costs, which is
calculated as sum of the costs of installed capacities of the different technologies, energy generation and
generation ramping. In addition, included in the energy system is the self-generation and consumption of
energy for residential, commercial and industrial sectors. The respective capacities of rooftop PV systems
and batteries are installed by the prosumers. For the prosumers, minimizing the cost of consumed electricity
is the target function. This cost is calculated as a sum of self-generation, annual cost and cost of electricity
consumed from the grid. The excess electricity generated by the prosumers is fed into the national grid and
assumed to be sold for a price of 0.02 €/kWh. The model ensures that prosumers satisfy their own demand
for electricity before selling.
Figure 1. The flow diagram of the LUT energy system model from inputs to outputs 
The target function described above was applied in 5-year time steps from 2015 to 2050. The other
two important constraints applied to the model were: no more than 20% growth in RE installed capacities
compared to total power generation capacities could be achieved for each 5-year time step so as to avoid
disruption to the power system. No new nuclear or fossil-based power plants could be installed after 2015,
for strict sustainability reasons. However, installation of gas turbines were allowed as they are a highly
efficient technology that can accommodate RE-based synthetic natural gas or bio-methane into the system
. The block diagram of the energy model is provided in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Block diagram of the LUT energy systems model . This is made up of major renewable energy
sources, transmission options, various storage technologies and various demands.
2.1 Applied technologies
For India, technologies applied for the energy system optimization can be divided into four main
Technologies for electricity generation
Energy storage technologies
Energy sector bridging technologies such as gas from Power-to-Gas (PtG) process and Seawater
Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalination
Electricity transmission technologies
The full block diagram is presented in Figure 2.
3. Assumptions for the region of India
3.1 Subdivision of the region and grid structure
India was divided into 10 sub-regions based on the population distribution, consumption of
electricity and the grid structure. Figure 3 shows the different sub-regions of India. The interconnection
between the regions can be also seen in Figure 3.
Figure 3. The different sub-regions in India and the grid configuration
3.2 Applied scenarios
For the energy transition of India, two scenarios were studied for the energy system analysis:
Country-wide scenario, in which the energy systems of the regions are interconnected
Integrated scenario, country-wide scenario plus SWRO desalination and industrial gas demand, where
PtG technology is used not only as a storage option but also covers non-energetic industrial gas
3.3 Financial and technical assumptions
The optimization of the model is carried out on an assumed cost basis and the state of technology
from the year 2015 to 2050. The financial and technical assumptions for all the energy system components
are tabulated in the Supplementary Material (Table 1). Weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is set to
7% for all scenarios, but for residential PV prosumers WACC is set to 4% due to lower financial return
requirements. Electricity prices (2015) for residential, commercial and industrial consumers for all the
countries are taken from various state tariff annual reports. The electricity prices till 2050 were calculated
according to the assumptions from Gerlach et al. . The electricity prices for all the sub-regions in India
are provided in the Supplementary Material (Table 3). The excess electricity generated by the prosumers is
assumed to be fed into the grid for a transfer selling price of 2 €cents/kWh. The main constraint for the
prosumers is to satisfy their own annual demand before they can sell electricity to the grid.
3.4 Resource potential for renewable technologies
The generation profiles for single-axis tracking, optimally tilted PV, solar CSP and wind energy
were calculated according to Bogdanov and Breyer . For hydro power, feed-in profiles for all the
regions were calculated based on the monthly resolved precipitation data for the year 2005 as a normalized
sum of precipitation in the regions. The potential for biomass and waste potential for India are taken from
 and divided into three categories: solid wastes, solid residues and biogas. The cost calculation for all
the biomass categories described above were done using data from International Energy Agency  and
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change . For solid fuels a 50 €/ton gate fee is assumed for 2015,
increasing to 100 €/ton for the year 2050 for waste incineration plants and this is reflected in the negative
cost for solid waste. The method for calculating geothermal energy potential in the sub-regions can be found
in Gulagi et al. . For seawater desalination, detailed calculations for the technical constraints and
financial cost of seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination are described in Caldera et al. . The
non-energetic industrial gas demand data is taken from IEA statistics  and extrapolated till the year
2050 from the IEA assumptions of non-energetic industrial gas demand growth rate . The electricity
demand is taken from the Power System Operation Corporation Limited, National Load Dispatch Center
 and extrapolated till 2050 from the IEA assumptions . The electricity demand till 2050 is given in
the Supplementary Material (Table 3). The lower and upper limits of renewables and fossil fuels are given
in Supplementary Material (Table 6 and 7, respectively).
The levelized cost of electricity for the country-wide scenario (Figure 4) shows first an increasing
trend till 2025 and then decreasing from 2025 to 2050. The same is observed for the integrated scenario
(Figure 5). This is due to higher cost coal based generation and its associated fuel and CO2 emission costs
being replaced by lower cost solar and wind based generation till 2050. The increase in LCOE till 2025 is
due to the high fuel and CO2 emission costs related to the coal usage as the share of coal in the system in
2025 is 40%. The decrease in LCOE after 2025 is due to an increase in the share of renewables and decrease
in the share of fossil fuels, and also associated costs of CO2 emissions and fuel costs. The integrated scenario
shows a decrease of 14% in the total LCOE for the year 2050 in comparison to the country-wide scenario
due to the decrease in cost for curtailment and storage. The integrated scenario provides the system the
required flexibility due to the bridging technologies of non-energetic industrial gas and desalination
demand. The fuel costs for all the fossil fuel technologies in shown in the Supplementary Material (Figure
Figure 4. Contribution of levelized cost of primary generation (LCOE primary), storage (LCOS), curtailment (LCOC),
fuel cost and carbon emission cost to total LCOE (left) and contribution of all technologies to LCOE (right) from 2015
to 2050 for the country-wide scenario
Figure 5. Contribution of levelized cost of primary generation (LCOE primary), storage (LCOS), curtailment
(LCOC), fuel cost and carbon emission cost to total LCOE (left) and contribution of all technologies to LCOE
(right) from 2015 to 2050 for integrated scenario
The installed capacities of the different power plants and electricity generation for the energy
transition from 2015 to 2050 is shown in Figure 6 and 7 for the country-wide and integrated scenarios,
respectively. Also, the absolute numbers of installed capacities can be found in the Supplementary Material
(Table 4). In the year 2015, coal dominates the total power plant capacity of India. However, after 2015 the
renewables, particularly solar PV, start to dominate the installed capacities to overcome the deficit created
by the phasing out of the fossil fuel plants, particularly coal. In the integrated scenario, additional demand
created by non-energetic industrial gas and seawater desalination is satisfied by installation of additional
PV plants. For the year 2050, 25% more solar PV and 19% of additional battery capacities are installed in
the integrated scenario when compared with the country-wide scenario. The installed capacities for coal in
the year 2050 is due to technical lifetime assumptions, as these plants do not contribute to any power
generation . Solar PV plants develop quickly after 2025 and wind power develops gradually after 2015.
Installed capacities of renewables grow at a constant rate for all the years. For the year 2050, PV single-
axis contributes 59% and prosumers contribute 29% to the total installed capacity in the country-wide
scenario. In comparison to solar PV plants, electricity generation from wind energy does not increase
significantly from 2035 to 2050 in both the scenarios. By 2050, PV single-axis contributes to 6000 TWh
and 8180 TWh of electricity and PV prosumers contribute to 1673 TWh to the total electricity generation
in the country-wide scenario and integrated scenarios, respectively. The full load hours (FLh) for solar PV
in the country-wide scenario reached its peak of 2081 in the year 2025 and decreases slightly year by year
till 2050. This can be explained by the higher installed capacities of solar PV after 2025, also in regions of
slightly lower irradiation. The PtG technology creates an additional demand of 157 TWhel for the country-
wide and 860 TWhel for the integrated scenario in the year 2050, which is observed in increased generation
capacity. The FLh for all the technologies in the country-wide scenario can be found in the Supplementary
Material (Table 5). As the share of renewables increases, curtailment increases due to the intermittency of
the renewables (Supplementary Material Figure 6).
Figure 6. Cumulative installed capacity for all generation technologies (left) and total annual electricity generation
by different technologies from 2015 to 2050 (right) for country-wide scenario
Figure 7. Cumulative installed capacity for all generation technologies (left) and total annual electricity generation
by different technologies from 2015 to 2050 (right) for integrated scenario
The role of storage technologies increase with the rising share of renewable energy in the system
(Figure 8 and 9). Till the year 2020, already installed PHS is the most cost effective storage and provides
the required storage option for the system. By 2025, prosumer and system batteries come into effect due to
the increasing influence of solar PV on the system. These batteries provide the system with the required
flexibility and a more cost effective option than utilizing the thermal power plants. The PtG technologies
contribute to the gas storage from the year 2045, as can be observed in huge installed capacities of gas
storage in the year 2045 and 2050. In the year 2025, the solar PV generation share is 55% of the total
electricity generated and this is the time when battery storage comes into the system for the country-wide
scenario (Figure 8). The increase in share of solar PV (Figure 6) corresponds to the increase in the share of
batteries (Figure 8), as hybrid solar PV-battery systems evolve as the least cost combination to provide
electricity in India . Batteries help electricity generated by solar PV to be used in the night time. The
batteries provide a total output of 2596 TWh and 3145 TWh in the year 2050 for the country-wide and
integrated scenarios, respectively.
Figure 8. Storage output required from 2015 to 2050 (left) and newly installed storage capacities (right) for country-
Figure 9. Storage output required from 2015 to 2050 (left) and newly installed storage capacities (right) for
The newly installed capacities for the storage technologies is mainly based on PHS for the year
2015, as the influence of renewables on the system is low and fossil fuels dominate the system. However,
after 2020, the newly installed capacities are mainly based on prosumer batteries in 2025 and later replaced
by system batteries in the next years. Gas storage is required as a seasonal storage from 2040 and, as can
be observed from Figures 8 and 9, there are huge capacities installed in 2045 and 2050.
Figure 10. Newly installed capacities in relative terms for 5-year intervals for country-wide (left) and integrated
The annual CO2 emissions during the energy transition are illustrated in Figure 11 for the country-
wide and integrated scenarios. The annual CO2 emissions are reduced to 0 by 2050. The increase in annual
emissions in 2020 is due to an increase in the electricity generated from coal power plants to satisfy
increased electricity demand as solar PV and other renewables are not yet cost competitive against the
marginal cost of coal plants, since existing capacities generate more electricity due to higher FLh. But even
more relevant is the set limit to not change the installed RE installed capacities on a higher growth rate than
20% for a 5-year time step. However, a substantial decrease in emissions from 2025 is observed due to an
increase in generation share of the renewables. The red lines in Figure 11 represent the ratio of CO2 emitted
for every kWh of electricity produced. In 2015, this value is at about 900g of CO2 per kWh and drops to 0
by 2050. The energy system in India is completely decarbonized by 2050.
Figure 11. Total annual CO2 emissions and ratio of CO2 emissions to electricity generation during the transition
period for country-wide (left) and integrated (right) scenario.
The results of this work prove that a least cost 100% renewable based energy system is achievable
for India by 2050 with the assumptions used in this study. These results represent a first of its kind energy
transition integrating the applied sectors on an hourly basis towards achieving a 100% renewable energy
based system. The LCOE obtained for a fully sustainable energy system for India in the year 2050 is 42
€/MWh and 37 €/MWh for the country-wide and integrated scenarios, respectively.
In the year 2050, PV single-axis and PV prosumers dominate the system with 2169 GW and 1048
GW, respectively, in the country-wide scenario, which represents 59% and 29%, respectively, of the total
installed capacities. This can be attributed to the steep decrease in the capex of solar PV and batteries, and
excellent solar conditions all year around in all parts of India. The solar PV electricity generation share, of
about 86% for 2050, is substantially higher than the world average of 40% found for 100% RE overnight
scenarios based on year 2030 assumptions . It is also higher than the obtained PV electricity share of
50% based on the same 2030 overnight scenario assumptions for the region India/SAARC . Prosumers
contribute significantly to the power generation and can play a significant role as they are immune to the
risk of power cuts, which is a big problem in India. Solar PV and batteries will form the backbone of a fully
sustainable electricity based system in India. The high solar PV share in the generation is possible only due
to the (low-cost) support of batteries. The wind conditions in India are not the best and this can be observed
in the installed capacities of wind energy during the transition period in both scenarios (Figure 6 and 7).
However, installed wind capacities are utilized in the period of low solar radiation and monsoon, when the
wind conditions are excellent in some parts of India . A 100% RE-based system can be visualized for
the year 2030, understanding the effects of monsoon and how the system reacts to its effect . For the
year 2050, wind contributes 36% to the total generated electricity. Electricity storage technologies play a
key role in maintaining the balance between supply and demand. On a daily basis, batteries and PHS play
a vital role in maintaining balance between supply and demand. Power-to-gas provides the system with a
long term storage option, which acts as a seasonal storage.
In a 100% renewable energy based power system, the role of storage technologies is very important.
In terms of cumulative installed capacities, gas storage dominates the power system as PtG is utilized as a
seasonal storage after 2040 when the penetration level of renewables exceeds 80%. However, batteries are
already utilized from 2025, when the share of renewables exceeds 50%. The above results are in agreement
about utilization of storage technologies at different renewable penetration levels [32,33]. For the year 2015
and 2020, the current installed capacity of PHS is sufficient to balance the system that is dominated by
power production from coal. As the influence of solar and wind increases, the relevance of storage
increases, particularly batteries. After 2035, the battery output contributes approximately 14% to the total
electricity demand, increasing to 42% by 2050 in the country-wide scenario. For the total electricity demand
in 2050 for the country-wide and integrated scenarios, 46% and 40% comes from storage technologies,
The current primary source of energy for India is coal and, it is the world’s third largest coal
producer after China and the United States . According to International Monetary Fund, India has huge
subsidies for coal and other fossil fuels . These coal-fired power plants are associated with high health
costs and heavy metal emissions [9-11] which are actually not yet taken into account in India in optimizing
the societal cost of energy supply. The change in the capacity mix for India from coal dominated to
renewables will help achieve important goals such as no stranded assets and departure from the burning of
fossil fuels, which is very inefficient technology. Taking away the subsidies from the fossil fuels and
investing in RE would enable India to achieve their climate change mitigation goals and zero carbon
The results obtained show a low LCOE for the transition till 2050 in the country-wide and
integrated scenarios. The recent growth in policies regarding renewables in India has been remarkable with
many ambitious projects and targets from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy [35,36] and the
formation of the International Solar Alliance at COP 21 . These initiatives will support the development
of a fully sustainable energy system for the future. The LCOE obtained from this study can be compared
with the LCOE of the alternatives of clean energy such as a new nuclear plant (assumed for 2023 in the UK
and Czech Republic) and gas CCS (assumed for 2019 in the UK) with LCOE of 112 €/MWh, and 126
€/MWh for coal CCS (assumed for 2019 in the UK) . Some reports  even indicate that CCS
technology will not be available until 2030, and a report by Citigroup questions whether it will ever be
profitable at all . The results obtained for a 100% renewable energy based system show the available
least cost RE electricity generation options, which would help achieve the goal of net zero GHG emissions
set at COP 21 .
The results of this paper indicate scenarios where a 100% RE-based system is possible and lower
in cost than the high risk options which have disadvantages related to proliferation risk, nuclear melt down,
unsolved nuclear waste disposal, CO2 emissions from power plants with CCS technology, health risk due
to heavy metal emissions from coal fired power plants and diminishing fossil fuel reserves. Also, nuclear
fission has limitations similar to those mentioned above. Also, the associated financial and human research
and development resources spent will not solve the energy problems in the world . The criteria for a
low cost, fully sustainable energy system are not satisfied by the above mentioned alternative options.
For India, a 100% RE-based system is achievable and the real policy option. The RE sources can
cover the electricity demand for 2050 for power, seawater desalination and synthetic natural gas demand
by 2050. The proposed energy system configuration can handle the hurdle due to the monsoon season quite
effectively. The LCOE obtained for a fully renewable energy system for the year 2050 was 42 €/MWh for
the country-wide scenario and 37 €/MWh for the integrated scenario. The obtained price range for
electricity is lower than the current system based on coal while matching climate change targets plus a huge
co-benefit from reduced health cost due to eliminated toxic heavy metal emission from coal-fired power
plants. The energy system of the future in India will be mainly based on solar PV and batteries. The high
PV share is only possible due to the (low-cost) support of batteries. The storage requirements will be mainly
based on batteries from the year 2025, when the share of renewables is more than 50%, and from 2045 gas
storage is utilized when the share of renewables is more than 90%. A 100% renewable energy system for
India is highly attractive, in particular due to the fact that it costs less than only the subsidies for a coal-
based energy system.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the public financing of Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for
Innovation, for the ‘Neo-Carbon Energy’ project under the number 40101/14 and support for Finnish Solar
Revolution project under the number 880/31/2016. The first author would like to thank Fortum Foundation
for the valuable scholarship. The authors would like to thank Michael Child for proofreading.
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