CHENNAI: India might have gotten a little bit closer to achieving its solar vision, with officials from the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI) and Raasi Solar Group huddling together in Bengaluru to thrash out a deal to co-develop the country’s first lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery manufacturing project.
“We are currently working with CECRI, whose plant in Chennai makes about 500 cells per day on a pilot project. We expect to start a 1-gigawatt factory in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu in 2019,” said C Narasimhan, Chairman and Managing Director of Raasi Group. The factory could see an investment of Rs 900 to Rs 1,100 crore.
“We are in talks with the Murugappa Group to source graphite for the anodes and are working with Tata Chemicals to source some other chemicals indigenously. But, a few components for the cathode can be sourced only from countries like China, Japan and parts of South America,” pointed out Vijayamohan K Pillai, Director, CECRI. The project’s managers have also signed agreements with a few Chinese manufacturers and are in talks with representatives from Argentina and Bolivia to ensure uninterrupted supply of raw materials.
However, the Indian Geological department’s possible discovery of lithium deposits in India might make sourcing lithium a lot cheaper.
“Lithium consumption to develop battery technology is only about two per cent, so we are looking to collaborate with a few government departments like the National Mineral Development Corporation so that they can start mining the lithium deposits in India itself. This would bring down the costs by 15 per cent. However, this will take some time,” said Narasimhan.
With much of the subsidies for electric vehicles mopped up by automakers, Narasimhan, who is also the president of the Indian Solar Association, said that they were seeking incentives for development of lithium-ion batteries.