Sunil Sukhija, Senior Vice president, Coslight India Telecom Private Limited

The energy storage market is growing at a fast pace, both domestically and globally. Cos­light, a key player in the energy market, has been working towards building new innovative solutions to cater to the growing energy requirements of towercos. Sunil Sukhija, senior vice president, Coslight India Telecom Private Limited, talks about the key trends shaping the energy storage market and the company’s future plans in the sector…

What are the key trends shaping the energy storage market in In­d­ia? How has been the adoption of these solutions across the telecom industry?

The provision of power to telecom towers is one of the most important aspects of telecom infrastructure. Grid supply, which is the key energy source for these tower companies, cannot be reliable all the time and that is where energy storage comes into the picture. India has been adopting green energy solutions over the past decade, but the market has been largely dependent on lead acid solutions. It has now shifted to lithium-ion (Li-ion) as it is most suitable for load profile and future planning, due to its high cycle life, low maintenance, fast charging, smart communication and constant power deliveries. The use of lithium batteries has helped tower companies reduce the use of DG sets, resulting in cost savings and contributing to a cleaner environment.

Coslight has been in the Li-ion market since 2013, and has seen an ever-growing demand for Li-ion in energy storage systems used in telecom. One more important trend in the energy storage segment is the use of remote monitoring systems. In the past few years, there has been a shift to­wards smart energy storage solutions and these solutions are remotely monitored. Be­tter control can be exercised even from a distance, which also helps control the cost.

What are Coslight’s current focus areas in the telecom space?

Coslight has a wide range of Li-ion and lead acid battery solutions for telecom applications. We are working with 48V Li-ion batteries, covering 10Ah-150Ah modules. The current requirements in the telecom industry can be met by Cos­light’s existing product portfolio. We are currently providing energy storage to various clients with our LFP-based Li-ion batteries. The number of towers powered by our lithium batteries is more than 500,000. As far as lead acid batteries are concerned, we are the key suppliers to ma­ny telecom operators and tower companies un­der Make in India, and provide so­lu­tions with advanced VRLA and AGM technology. We have all the required approvals.

How are the energy requirements of the telecom industry expected to change with the roll-out of 5G? What role can Coslight play in this regard?

Telecom is shifting from 4G to 5G. In the 5G era, towers will have higher power consumption and require stable power solutions as compared to 4G, which means their reliance on battery power will also increase. We at Coslight work according to our customers’ requirement. We understand and analyse it to provide solutions according to their needs and satisfaction. We are the first and largest manufacturer of lithium batteries in India and our quality aspect lies in the fact that we have an end-to-end supply chain, that is, producing from the cell level to the pack level. We are capable of modifying at the module level as per the technical specifications. We have a pan-India service network with our own team of expert engineers to provide immediate support to our customers.

What are some of the challenges for the company? How can these be addressed?

While energy storage systems (ESS) are the need of the hour and there are a lot of private and government tenders in the pipe­line, the key issue is the cost of these solutions. Coslight has full ownership of the product, that is, from the cell level to the battery module. Competition with other local players is a concern as all integrators just assemble various qualities of cells to make the solution. The acceptance of products without recommended certifications is creating unfair competition.

The cost is a major challenge in de­p­loy­­ment. As operators and tower companies are trying to shift from traditional VRLA to new lithium technology, they find it difficult to manage their budget and it slows down the overall process. This is the reason that the ESS implementation process is still very slow globally. Another challenge for large-scale deployment is limited solar scalability. The prices have increased at the component level, leading to customer over-budget. This requires price re-evaluation.

What will be your focus areas in the coming years?

The entire ecosystem of energy management has to be automated. More research efforts are needed for battery thermal management, which can improve life cy­c­les, performance management and safety of the battery solutions.

We are currently serving a grid substation with our ESS solution combined with battery, PCS and smart EMS system. We are working with BRPL, Delhi, to provide a combined 1 MWh ESS solution, which works in peak shaving conditions with the grid. This combined solution provides three-level protection to the battery. The ESS system is capable of running with mi­nimal physical supervision and reducing the power outage in any region.

We are also working on electric vehicle battery solutions. We are planning BESS sol­utions for power generation stations and distribution terminals. We are working on solar and wind power solutions to provide power quality improvement and power support during peak demands.