Scientists Design Promising New Cathode for Sodium-based Batteries

on July 31, 2017

Scientists have designed a new type of cathode that could make the mass production of sodium batteries more feasible. Batteries based on plentiful and low-cost sodium are of great interest to both scientists and industry as they could facilitate a more cost-efficient production process for grid-scale energy storage systems, consumer electronics and electric vehicles. The discovery was a collaborative effort between researchers at the Institute of Chemistry (IOC) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Lithium batteries are commonly found in consumer electronics such as smartphones and laptop computers, but in recent years, the electric vehicle industry also began using lithium batteries, significantly increasing the demand on existing lithium resources.

“Just last year, the price of lithium carbonate tripled, because the Chinese electric vehicle market started booming,” said Xiao-Qing Yang, a physicist at the Chemistry Division of Brookhaven Lab and the lead Brookhaven researcher on this study.

In addition, the development of new electrical grids that incorporate renewable energy sources like wind and solar is also driving the need for new battery chemistries. Because these energy sources are not always available, grid-scale energy storage systems are needed to store the excess energy produced when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.

Scientists have been searching for new battery chemistries using materials that are more readily available than lithium. Sodium is one of the most desirable options for researchers because it exists nearly everywhere and is far less toxic to humans than lithium.

But sodium poses major challenges when incorporated into a traditional battery design. For example, a typical battery’s cathode is made up of metal and oxygen ions arranged in layers. When exposed to air, the metals in a sodium battery’s cathode can be oxidized, decreasing the performance of the battery or even rendering it completely inactive.

The researchers at IOC of CAS and Jiangxi Normal University sought to resolve this issue by substituting different types of metals in the cathode and increasing the space between these metals. Then, using the Inner-Shell Spectroscopy (ISS) beamline at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)—a DOE Office of Science User Facility—Brookhaven’s researchers compared the structures of battery materials with unsubstituted materials to these new battery materials with substitute metals.

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Brookhaven National LaboratoryScientists Design Promising New Cathode for Sodium-based Batteries

Minnesota co-op plans state’s biggest energy storage project

on July 31, 2017

Midwest-Energy-NewsMinnesota’s largest retail electric cooperative is in negotiation with vendors to build the largest storage energy project in the state alongside three solar installations.

Connexus Energy plans to install storage capable of storing 20 megawatts, the equivalent of 40 MW hours of energy, according to Brian Burandt, vice president of power supply and business development.

“I believe it’s the largest project being contemplated at this time,” he said. “There are larger projects in the country at this time but this is the largest we know about in Minnesota.”

The storage would be sited at three proposed solar installations that Connexus plans to build likely next summer. The collective output of the solar project would be 10 MW.

The battery storage installations would be co-located at the solar sites, Burandt said. The co-op is “still in negotiation” about the solar projects.

Connexus, the largest customer-owned utility in Minnesota, serves 130,000 homes in the suburbs of the Twin Cities.

Ellen Anderson, executive director of the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab, applauded Connexus for embarking on the project.

Her lab recently issued a report on energy storage and is among the sponsors of a conference on the same topic in September. It also convenes the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance.

“It’s really is going to be an extremely influential example” in Minnesota and the Midwest in showcasing how “energy storage is an opportunity right now for utilities looking to combine customer benefits and cost savings and renewable energy goals.”

The project may resonate beyond the region because a cooperative is embarking upon the energy storage-solar concept, Anderson said.

“Co-ops see an opportunity they may have not considered before,” she said. It’s safe to say Connexus sees this as a first step to storage improving their system and helping customers. They’re being real innovators here.”

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Midwest Energy NewsMinnesota co-op plans state’s biggest energy storage project

Energy Storage Research Gets Funding Boost in House-Passed Spending Bill

on July 29, 2017

The House passed a government spending bill on Thursday that would provide a small funding boost for energy storage research as part of the appropriations for energy and water development programs in fiscal 2018.

House lawmakers voted 235-192 to pass a “minibus” spending bill that includes $37.56 billion for energy and water development — $3.6 billion more than the White House request. The appropriations bill would then head to the Senate, where similar legislation calls for $38.4 billion in funding for the next fiscal year.

House lawmakers on Wednesday adopted an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) that would shift $10 million from the Energy Department’s administration account to its Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability for energy storage systems demonstrations. Despite the small dollar amount, Gallagher said it’s a sign of bipartisanship on the issue.

“There’s growing, strong support among conservatives for a smart approach to energy that is both environmentally friendly and economically friendly,” Gallagher said in a brief interview Thursday.

The House adopted the amendment by voice vote on the same day the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation published a study that recommends continued federal investment in late-stage energy research. That analysis evaluated 53 demonstration projects initiated between 2009 and 2011 that received federal funding through 2015. Of those, 16 were energy storage projects that relied on the federal government for almost half of their funding, 10 of which have been successfully completed.

“When these projects actually do get built, it’s very rare for them to be built entirely with private funding,” lead author David Hart, former innovation director for the manufacturing industry at the White House during the Obama administration, said at an ITIF panel discussion Wednesday.

Hart, who’s now a senior fellow at ITIF and a professor of public policy at George Mason University, said demonstration projects are integral to the commercialization of technology because complex energy systems need to be developed gradually. The poster child for proper development and deployment, he said, is the Petra Nova carbon capture project in Texas: completed on time, under budget and led by the private sector with the reassurance of federal funding.

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Morning ConsultEnergy Storage Research Gets Funding Boost in House-Passed Spending Bill

Middle East interest in energy storage ‘ramping up significantly’, I.H.S says

on July 28, 2017

Energy Storage NewsThere is increasing high-level interest in the potential for energy storage in the Middle East, with grid-connected systems forecast to reach 1.8GW in the region by 2025, according to I.H.S.

This interest, from the likes of government agencies and utilities – many of which are state-owned – comes primarily from the burgeoning interest in utility-scale PV plants, an energy asset class which the region has wholeheartedly embraced in recent years according to Julian Jansen, a UK-based senior analyst with the research company.

“We are seeing that total deployment, the overall installed base by 2025 in the Middle East region, is going to reach around 1.8GW of grid-connected energy storage,” Jansen said.

“With a lot of that growth, to caveat, it’s going to be seen more towards the end of the period. Up to then, it’s going to be quite a slow market to get going until about 2020. Then we’ll see some strong growth.”

The region is at present unquestionably a small market as far as energy storage and especially utility-scale advance battery energy storage is concerned. The majority of the Middle East’s installed base comes from just one project, a 108MW sodium-sulfur battery energy storage project for Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water Authority supplied by Japanese company NGK. While Jansen said it was hardly controversial to state that energy storage is in its infancy in the region, it was unlikely to remain the case long term. One developer with experience of the region, Sami Khoreibi, CEO of Enviromena, recently blogged for this site that energy storage will transform Middle East and Africa’s energy market over the next 10 years.

“What we see now is that interest is ramping up very significantly,” Jansen said.

The UAE, Saud Arabia and Qatar are among the region’s countries that have enjoyed progress in solar PV in very recent times, with all of them adding significant utility-scale projects. Meanwhile Jordan, another of those countries to see large-scale PV rollout underway, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a 20MW battery-based energy storage system with AES Corporation in 2015.

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Energy Storage NewsMiddle East interest in energy storage ‘ramping up significantly’, I.H.S says

Crazy New Cargo Ship Gets Ready For Its Solar + Wind + Energy Storage Closeup

on July 28, 2017

energy storage cleantechnicaA cutting-edge new cargo ship from the company Eco Marine Power could be the first out of the box to integrate a rigid sail system with solar power and energy storage. Going by the concept design, the renewable energy hardware seems to be taking up some valuable deck space, but this first vessel will be a floating R&D platform intended to arrive at the optimal balance between renewables and cargo for various ship models.

If all goes well, the company foresees that various iterations of the wind+solar+storage combo could be used in the cruise ship and ore carrier sectors, in addition to cargo ships.

A move in the direction of rigid sails for cargo ships crossed the CleanTechnica radar back in 2012, when the Irish company B9 Shipping came up with an idea for a wind-powered cargo ship modeled on rotating sail technology used in the then-largest luxury yacht in the world, the Maltese Falcon, which hit the water in 2006 using DynaRig sails.

DynaRig is rooted in a 1960’s concept for placing sails on a rotating mast. The heavy materials in use at the time prevented the concept from breaking into commercial application, but the introduction of lightweight carbon fiber and other new materials enabled DynaRig sails to slide into the superyacht market.

DynaRig also got a mention in CleanTechnica back in 2013, when the high-end yacht company Oceanco came up with an idea for deploying a ship equipped with both solar panels and DynaRig technology.

That yacht (dubbed Solar) made a huge splash when first announced in 2012. It was under wraps as a super secret project until it launched into a testing phase earlier this year.

Despite Oceanco nailing down the Solar name, it looks like Eco Marine Power could still have bragging rights to the first integrated wind + solar ship. It’s pretty hard to spot where Solar is hiding its solar panels, and there doesn’t seem to be much room for them on deck considering all the superyacht extras crowding for a spot in the sun:

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CleanTechnicaCrazy New Cargo Ship Gets Ready For Its Solar + Wind + Energy Storage Closeup

Energy storage group outlines ways for states to promote the technology

on July 27, 2017

energy storage utility diveOnly a handful of states – California, Oregon and Massachusetts – have energy storage procurement targets. California and Oregon were the first to enact mandates for energy storage. They were followed by Massachusetts, which recently set an “aspirational” 200 MWh storage target. And in June, the New York legislature passed a bill calling for an energy storage target.

But a new report from the ESA put establishing a procurement target at the top of its list of state policies needed to jump start energy storage deployment. A target creates an environment in which storage purveyors can learn by doing. In states like California, this has already resulted in procurements that have exceeded mandated targets, the report says.

Among the other recommendations from the ESA is the creation of time-varying electricity rates that can demonstrate the value of storage to customers while better aligning customer costs with system costs.

The report argues that the benefits of energy storage must be realized through accurate market signals that enable the value of storage to be monetized. This could include solutions such as locational pricing and crafting rates that signal the best time to leverage storage capabilities, the report says. New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision is one notable efforttackling these issues, including compensating distributed energy resources according to the value assigned by the location. 

As prerequisites for competition, ESA recommends that states include energy storage in its integrated resource planning, distribution system planning, grid resilience and emergency management planning, peak demand reduction and energy efficiency programs. The report also recommends cost-benefit analysis for storage, and potential tax incentives to scale deployment in states. 

To encourage access, the report recommends that interconnection rules and interconnection queues should be updated to reflect changes in the energy storage market.

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Utility DiveEnergy storage group outlines ways for states to promote the technology

Nissan charged up for first phase of energy storage investment

on July 26, 2017

AM-OnlineBusiness minister Greg Clark, announced yesterday, that the first phase of the Government’s £246million investment into battery technology and energy storage in the UK had begun.

Nissan plans to be at the forefront of EV technology with the roll out of its Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology, under its Intelligent Mobility platform.

V2G technology allows electric vehicles to be fully integrated into the electricity grid and will help improve grid capability to handle renewable power, making renewable sources even more widely integrated and affordable.

Private EV owners and businesses with large EV fleets will have the opportunity to create mobile energy hubs by integrating their vehicles into the grid.

Nissan EV owners can connect to the grid to charge at “low-demand, cheap tariff periods”, with an option to then use the electricity stored in the vehicle’s battery at home and at work when costs are higher, or even feed back to the grid which could generate additional revenue for the EV owner.

Nissan Europe’s director of energy services Francisco Carranza said: “Nissan has been saying for a long time that the future is electric. That forward-thinking led us to produce the the Nissan Leaf.

“Our vehicles can be plugged into the grid and support the transmission and distribution companies in making the UK grid more sustainable and more stable. The increase of electric vehicles penetration, the introduction of more and more distributed generation and storage and the overall increase in renewable energy penetration should be done smartly.

“In addition to Nissan electric vehicles and the vehicle to grid services, we also have plans for our batteries once they have been used in cars – as stationary energy storage units which can be filled by renewable sources.”

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AM OnlineNissan charged up for first phase of energy storage investment

How solar, energy storage could benefit from the UK’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan

on July 26, 2017

Energy Storage NewsEarlier this week the UK government and energy regulator Ofgem published a strategy for a modernised, smart and flexible power system, the result of an eagerly anticipated response to last year’s Smart Power Call for Evidence.

The 32-page document outlines how the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) considers the domestic power market to mature and includes significant clarity, transparency and guidance for its minded role for storage, as well as potential benefits for the UK’s solar scene.

Business secretary Greg Clark said: “Upgrading our energy system to make sure it is fit for the future is a key part of our Industrial Strategy. A smarter energy system will create opportunities to reduce energy costs, increase productivity and put UK businesses in a leading position to export smart energy technology and services to the rest of the world.”

Breaking the document down into four main sub-sects, the key points of the big unveil are:

Utility-scale solar

Solar asset holders are to receive guidance on how storage can be retrofitted onto their sites without impacting subsidy schemes they may qualify for. The most recent CfD (Contracts for Difference – a government-backed method for investing in low carbon tech) consultation has revealed how storage should be treated on CfD-eligible builds, while Ofgem has updated it guidance on the Renewable Obligation subsidy scheme (RO) accreditation amendment process and provided guidance on how to co-locate storage. This will be followed by new guidance on the feed-in tariff (FiT) and RO schemes for any participants who wish to retrofit battery storage at a later date. This is likely to be of significant importance to owners of solar assets, particularly funds and other long-term holders, who could deploy battery storage en masse once more certainty is provided and the economics make sense.

Utility-scale energy storage

Storage may not face demand residual charges at transmission and distribution level courtesy of Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review, published in March this year. Ofgem is expected to announce details on the scope of that review shortly, with a view to provide guidance on the subject by the end of the year.

Primary legislation will be used to amend the Electricity Act 1989 to include an explicit definition of electricity storage, specifically as a generation subset. This will then allow Ofgem to consult on a modified generation licence for storage which it intends to introduce by next summer.

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Energy Storage NewsHow solar, energy storage could benefit from the UK’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan

Global Annual Utility-Scale & Distributed Energy Storage Capacity Additions To Exceed 50 GW By 2026

on July 26, 2017

energy storage cleantechnicaThe combined global annual capacity additions for utility-scale and distributed energy storage is expected to exceed 50 GW by 2026, according to new figures published by Navigant Research.

While it is unsurprising that the global energy storage sector is set to see strong growth over the next decade, the sheer scale of that growth expected by 2026 is phenomenal. According to two new reports published by Navigant Research, the annual capacity additions expected for both the utility-scale energy storage sector and the distributed energy storage sector will together exceed 50 gigawatts (GW) in 2026. Specifically, the global annual utility-scale energy storage power capacity additions will grow from 1,159 MW in 2017 to 30,473 MW by 2026. Meanwhile, the global annual capacity additions for the distributed energy storage systems (DESS) sector will grow from 684 MW in 2017 to 19,700 MW by 2026.

“Worldwide, the energy storage industry continues to gain momentum, with an increasing number of new projects being announced and commissioned,” said Alex Eller, research analyst with Navigant Research. “While most activity remains highly concentrated in select markets, newly announced projects indicate that significant geographic diversification is taking place.”

Navigant Research predicts that 5 countries in 2017 are expected to account for 51% of all new energy storage capacity additions across both sectors — the United States, China, India, the UK, and Australia. (Note: Navigant did not provide this information in their publically available information, but the charts below seem to bear this out.) This is down from 58% in 2017.

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CleanTechnicaGlobal Annual Utility-Scale & Distributed Energy Storage Capacity Additions To Exceed 50 GW By 2026

UK to invest $320m in energy storage R&D

on July 25, 2017

power engineeringIn a move aimed at powering its transition to a low-carbon economy with energy storage, the UK is set to fund battery technology research to the tune of £246m ($320m).

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark is scheduled to announce a four-year investment round, called the Faraday Challenge, today.

According to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department, the funding will be distributed through three competition streams that will aim to boost UK-based R&D in storage technology.

A £45m research competition will be led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and will begin by creating a Battery Institute. This will consist of a consortium of universities and will aim to address the key industrial challenges in battery development.   

The next stage will be led by innovation funding body Innovate UK, which will hold R&D competitions designed to bring the most promising results of the Battery Institute closer to market.

For stage three, a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre will focus on scaling up battery technology. The competition is aimed at finding the best proposal for a new open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility.

Professor Philip Nelson, head of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said batteries “will form a cornerstone of a low carbon economy, whether in cars, aircraft, consumer electronics, district or grid storage” and that “to deliver the UK’s low carbon economy we must consolidate and grow our capabilities in novel battery technology”.

Ruth McKernan, Innovate UK Chief Executive said: “By any scale, the Faraday Challenge is a game changing investment in the UK and will make people around the globe take notice of what the UK is doing in terms of battery development for the automotive sector.

“The competitions opening this week present huge opportunities for UK businesses, helping to generate further jobs and growth in the UK’s low carbon economy.”

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PowerEngineeringUK to invest $320m in energy storage R&D