Author: Saumy Prateek

Guidelines to Facilitate Product Approval

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued draft guidelines for performance testing of batteries (lead-acid and nickel-based chemistry type) series approval for mandatory registration with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

The draft guidelines for series approval (grouping) are open to comments which are due by 18th April. The draft copy was prepared with inputs from stakeholders, including experts from test labs, BIS, and the battery storage industry.

Battery energy storage system (BESS) was brought under the ambit of the Solar Photovoltaics, Systems, Devices, and Component Goods (Requirement for Compulsory Registration under the BIS Act Order 2017) which was implemented on April 16, 2018.

As the Indian renewable energy industry expands, the government is trying to catch up with quality issues and is setting up testing guidelines to ensure all products sold meet established standards. MNRE issued a new National Lab Policy in December 2017 to improve the quality and reliability of renewable energy projects in India.

Because batteries are of varying sizes, ratings, and types, each category of batteries is to be grouped when submitting samples to test labs and will be granted approval for the series (group) of products based on testing of representatives’ models.

Grouping by category for testing is a good move by the MNRE. Grouping had become an issue with testing inverters where labs had no clarity on this issue, and testing of individual models became cumbersome, expensive and delayed.

According to MNRE, the information regarding the material of the containers, the separator used, and the type of sealing adopted (in the case of sealed batteries) and the overall dimensions must be provided by the manufacturer while submitting the batteries for testing.

The manufacturer will need to recommend the procedure to be followed to charge the cells and batteries. If the information is not provided by the customer, the procedure described in applicable standards will be followed.

The short-term tests (capacity test, retention of charge, sulphation test and water loss test) will be performed on all ratings included in the series. In case any test samples fail any one of the short term tests, the particular rating will be resubmitted for the testing.

Among the product range of cells and batteries from a manufacturer, the representation model of that particular cell and battery will be tested. The highest rated capacity sample will be subjected to all tests (including endurance tests), and the qualifying product will be issued test reports to all samples covered in the series.

For cells and batteries to be considered in the same series, the manufacturer has to submit an assurance to the test lab that all the models have been manufactured with no change in the grid alloy composition, grid purity, grid thickness, ingredients used in the electrode preparation, method of preparation and the thickness of the electrodes and quality systems followed for manufacturing.

The government issued a proposal to set up a national mission on transformative mobility and battery storage initiatives last month. The Cabinet has also approved the creation of the Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP) to support the development of large-scale, export-competitive integrated batteries and cell-manufacturing giga-scale projects in India. The Phased Manufacturing Program will be valid for five years until 2024 and help in localization of production across the entire electric vehicles value chain. The program is expected to be finalized by the national mission on transformative mobility and battery storage.

Unlike for solar components, battery testing guidelines are being established before the announcement of the national mission for battery storage.

Image credit: Central Power Research Institute

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