SaltX Technology and Vattenfall have signed off on a Letter of Intent to lead a pilot program based on SaltX’s large-scale energy storage technology — EnerStore.
The pilot project will be developed in one of Vattenfall’s district heating networks and will be used to verify SaltX EnerStore technology in full-scale. The project is expected to start in the second half of 2017 — with the first phase expected to run for 18 months.
Sweden’s leading technology consultant – Sweco – will perform the project engineering of the pilot plant, while Stockholm University will lead the validation measurements and performance tests.
Karl Bohman, CEO of SaltX Technology, said: “Vattenfall is the perfect match for us and has the resources and extensive experience to make this pilot project a success. Their technical skills and commercial verification will be very valuable as we launch EnerStore on the market.”
Vattenfall will host the pilot plant and support the operation and maintenance of the pilot project.
Senators rushed to file a slate of energy storage bills in recent days ahead of hearings on the subject scheduled for next week.
On Tuesday, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will question energy industry leaders on reliability and resilience. At the same time, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing specifically on energy storage.
Those events could bring attention to the new legislation aimed at boosting federal support for the emerging technology. At a discussion hosted by the Advanced Energy Storage Caucus on Wednesday, industry leaders said they hope to cast energy storage as a resource that “helps everyone,” aiming to avoid the partisan divides that characterize support for renewables or fossil fuels on Capitol Hill.
“Energy storage as infrastructure is enough of a bipartisan topic,” Ted Ko, vice president for policy at Stem, said about the Franken bill, which would fund storage R&D for grid resilience. “There’s a dozen different critical infrastructures in the U.S. and energy is probably the one the others all depend on, so investing in R&D for that is I think a bipartisan issue that should give that legislation a little more legs.”
Provisions for DOE demonstration projects and technical assistance on storage could help utilities integrate the new technology into their long-term generation planning, said Jason Burwen, policy and advocacy director at the Energy Storage Association.
“There’s a recognition of putting storage into the planning processes of utilities, particularly of smaller utilities and munis and co-ops that may not have human capital and may be resource constrained,” he said. “That’s going to be transformative for those folks to figure out how does this cost-benefit work out … how do we value the resilience aspects and then how do we make this make sense not just for a one-off procurement but part of a long term resource plan?”
Energy demands from developing countries are going to grow by about 10 per cent between now and 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration. By that year, they will be using 65 per cent of the world’s total energy supply.
But although new renewable energy technology can be adopted quickly, the basic energy infrastructure in the developing world is lagging behind. As a result, energy supplies are nowhere near as reliable. And that’s a problem. “In some places we have hospitals that have 12 hours of blackouts a day,” says Enass Abo-Hamed, chief executive and co-founder of hydrogen storage startup H2GO.
If electricity could be stored on-site for when it is needed, outages would be far less frequent. But the cost of existing battery technology is prohibitive. Abo-Hamed and her colleagues are working on an innovative way of storing hydrogen gas that can be burned in fuel cells. The system uses nanomaterials to create a partially flexible sponge that is able to trap hydrogen atoms in its pores. The gas can later be released by heating the structure.
“Once you reach the required temperature, the structure gets distorted and releases the hydrogen,” says Abo-Hamed. It’s a bit like pushing corks out of bottles. But first, you have to get hydrogen. From splitting water molecules (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen. H2GO will use a water electrolyser for this process. Abo-Hamed says that, based on their calculations, a medium to large hospital in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, would need about 50 litres of water per hour. About 80 to 90 per cent of this supply is returned after the hydrogen is burned to make power, and can therefore be used again.
A new report from GTM Research has determined that for the first time ever, grid-tied residential battery storage deployment will overtake that of the traditionally-leading off-grid and grid-independent battery storage systems across the United States in 2017.
GTM Research published its latest report this week, U.S. Residential Battery Storage Playbook 2017, which details the battery storage industry in the United States, and its future potential. Traditionally, the report has shown that off-grid and grid-independent backup battery storage applications have dominated the US market, accounting for 86% of the total residential battery storage systems installed during 2016. More than 4,400 residential battery systems were installed during 2016, representing a total of 127 MWh (megawatt-hours) of energy storage.
However, GTM predicts a shift in 2017 that will flip the industry on its head, somewhat, with grid-connected battery deployments set to make up 57% of annual deployments — the first time ever that grid-connected battery systems have overtaken off-grid and grid-independent systems.
Further, and astonishingly, GTM Research predicts that by 2022 grid-connected systems will account for 99% of new deployments, with off-grid and grid-independent backup deployments remaining relatively flat.
Energy storage is already accelerating the transition to wind and solar energy, and things are about to get a little more interesting. Scientists at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have come up with a new bijel that could have some interesting energy storage applications. They’re still trying to find the right adjectives to describe it, but “weirdly exciting” seems to fit the bill for now.
Bijel is short for “bicontinuous jammed emulsion gels.” If that sounds somewhat mysterious, it’s really not. You can almost DIY your own bijel right at the dinner table. Here’s the explainer from Berkeley Lab:
Bijels are typically made of immiscible, or non-mixing, liquids. People who shake their bottle of vinaigrette before pouring the dressing on their salad are familiar with such liquids. As soon as the shaking stops, the liquids start to separate again, with the lower density liquid – often oil – rising to the top.
The key word is almost. Those spherical droplets in your vinaigrette bottle are as close to true bijellery as you can get.
The unique feature of bijels is that the two liquids can’t separate. The particles are “jammed” at the interface where they meet. Instead of distinct droplets, they form a web of channels.
That feature provides bijels with a wide range of applications in energy storage and other areas involving catalysis, conductivity, and energy conversion — potentially, that is.
In addition to issues involving the fabrication of bijels, the main catch is that the fluid channels are too wide to be of much use in energy conversion applications.
A megawatt-scale lithium-ion (Li-ion) energy storage system (ESS) can be vital in successful grid integration of a large wind or solar plant by addressing the intermittency and unpredictability inherent in renewable energy. The challenge, however, is sizing the ESS for maximum operational and financial benefit. This is because an ESS can have several distinct roles, and only by understanding its role and the specifics of its site can engineers specify the right ESS for the job.
Ramp Rate Control
Grid operators often must limit the rate of change at which power is injected into the grid-the ramp rate. The output of a photovoltaic (PV) array of several megawatts can drop by 70 to 80 percent in about a minute. The ESS, therefore, must discharge in a way that ramps the net facility output down smoothly over seven or eight minutes (Figure 1). The ESS can absorb or release energy when a sudden shift in wind or passing cloud causes a step change in output. Ramp rate control ensures that the facility ramps at a rate that is compatible with the power system. This is particularly true for island grids, because they lack the inertia of mainland networks and are susceptible to disruption, which could be caused by simultaneous uncontrolled ramping of several renewable facilities.
The ESS will experience many small charge and discharge cycles. Over the day, the cumulative energy charged and discharged in 24 hours, known as throughput, can amount to around two to three multiples of the capacity of the ESS (2C to 3C).
Typically, a 10 MW solar farm would be combined with an ESS capable of delivering 5 MW of power and storing 1.3 MWh of energy. The facility would operate at an average depth of discharge (DOD) of 6 percent and a cumulated daily energy throughput of 2.5 MWh, which is equivalent to 1.9 times the capacity (1.9C).
In contrast, wind generation generally varies at lower amplitudes so a typical 10 MW wind farm could be equipped with a 2.5 MW ESS, delivering 0.58 MWh energy storage. It would operate at an average DOD of 4 percent with a cumulated daily energy throughput of 1.9 MWh, or 3.2C.
Energy storage is tagged as the key enabler for any comprehensive transition to a renewable electricity supply. Storage will be essential to ensure stable voltage as sun- and wind-dependent generation flows into or subsides from the grid at unpredictable rates, while the ability to capture surplus generation for later use would provide logistical and economic advantages to help squeeze fossil-fuel-fired sources out of the market.
For now, though, emergent entrepreneurs face some barriers in a market designed around a non-durable commodity. Industry insiders speaking at the Energy Storage Canada conference in Toronto last week celebrated technological advances, but stressed that viable, steady revenue will be needed to propel the technology into the mainstream.
“We’re trying to get an industry off the ground and energy storage is the holy grail that everybody has always talked about,” observed Jim Fonger, senior business developer with the renewable energy and conservation consulting firm, Ameresco Canada. “Opportunities are in where the electricity system is going in the future as opposed to where it is today.”
“As we talk about decarbonization in power markets globally, that’s going to require wind and solar. You can’t do that without resources to store energy,” concurred Ben Grunfeld, managing director with the professional services firm, Navigant.
Other strategists suggested that getting to that future could turn on securing long-term contracts, capitalizing on climate volatility and exploiting existing market-shaping mechanisms like Ontario’s global adjustment price add-on and the associated Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI). Policies and regulations for achieving Canada’s target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030 are also expected to play a role.
The residential energy storage market is undergoing a transformation this year.
According to a new report from GTM Research, U.S. Residential Battery Storage Playbook 2017, this year will be the first ever in which grid-tied residential battery storage system deployments outnumber new off-grid and grid-independent systems across the United States.
While data has been difficult to come by due to the nature of the deployments, off-grid and grid-independent backup storage applications have dominated the U.S. residential energy storage market to date. GTM Research estimates that in 2016, over 4,400 residential battery systems were deployed across the U.S., representing 127 megawatt-hours of storage. Of those systems, 86 percent were off-grid or grid-independent backup.
This year, however, we’ll see a major reversal of the trend, says GTM Research. By the end of 2017, grid-connected deployments will make up 57 percent of annual deployments. By 2022, that figure will balloon to 99 percent, as annual off-grid and grid-independent backup deployments will remain relatively flat.
Both homeowners and utilities are driving the revolution, each with a different set of needs. Homeowners are adding storage systems for backup power or for monetary savings, while utilities encourage adoption in order to mitigate the effects of high solar penetration on the grid. Also driving or hindering growth are local regulations, policies and incentives.
“It is most instructive to think of the residential battery market not as a monolithic entity, but rather as a patchwork quilt of geography- and homeowner-specific applications that will be stitched together over time,” write the authors of the report. “Each application lends itself to a specific set of system requirements, which may potentially overlap with the requirements for other applications. Further complicating the matter, homeowner preferences and site-specific constraints may alter or limit what can be achieved by a given system.”
British renewable energy developer Anesco has this week ushered in a new, potentially transformative era in U.K. solar energy with the official unveiling of the country’s first subsidy-free solar farm.
Located near Flitwick in the southern English county of Bedfordshire, the 10 MW Clayhill solar farm is the first ground-mounted installation in the country to operate without any form of government support, and could pave the way for a solar revolution 2.0 fuelled by lower-cost solar and balance of systems (BOS) components and supported by integrated energy storage.
Claire Perry, MP BEIS minister for Climate Change & Industry, waxed lyrical about the commissioning of such an installation – particularly at a time when it is increasingly clear that no further solar subsidy is likely to be forthcoming from the British government.
“The cost of solar panels and batteries has fallen dramatically over the past few years, and this first subsidy-free development at Clayhill is a significant moment for clean energy in the U.K.,” Perry said.
“Solar panels already provide enough electricity to power 2.7 million homes with 99% of that capacity installed since 2010. The government is determined to build on this success and our ambitious Clean Growth Strategy will ensure we continue to lead the world on the transition to a low carbon economy,” she added.
Anesco’s executive chairman Steve Shine remarked at the plant’s opening that the Clayhill installation proves that the government’s decision to withdraw subsidies for PV does not have to signal the end of solar as a commercially viable technology in the U.K.
“Given our extensive experience with solar and storage projects, we took a fresh look at how we could finance and develop Clayhill without needing a renewables subsidy,” Shine revealed. “We sought the views of our supply chain and with them looked at every aspect of the project – its design, the technical specifications, the use of the very latest technology and the costs of the various components.
One hundred tons of molten salt circulate through the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) test facility in Cologne. The molten salt is alternately heated and cooled from 250 to 560 degrees Celsius. Opened on 15 September 2017, the Test Facility for Thermal Energy Storage in Molten Salt (TESIS) is used to test molten salt storage systems and individual components in a globally unique form. Energy storage facilities play a key role in transforming our energy system. Thermal storage systems, in particular, can become an effficient – with very low losses – and cost-effective method for temporary energy storage.
The key role of thermal storage systems
The industrial-scale system allows scientists and industrial partners to continue developing cost-efficient thermal storage concepts for controllable, renewable electricity in power plant technology and high-energy industrial processes. DLR researchers expect that further developments with the TESIS test facility will reduce the cost of molten salt storage by up to 40 percent.
“Among the greatest challenges of the Energiewende (energy transition) is the sustainable management of energy and resources. Efficient storage systems are an important method of regulating supply and demand. In the TESIS thermo-battery, DLR is providing a system that will enable the ongoing development of application-based storage technologies on the industrial scale,” said Karsten Lemmer, DLR Executive Board Member for Energy and Transportation. Salt storage facilities have been used in solar power plants for years, where they ensure that the facilities can produce electricity round the clock. Salts will be a crucial element in future energy storage facilities that are based on the conversion of power to heat and vice versa. They might also be deployed to absorb immense quantities of waste heat in high-energy industrial processes – for instance in metal, cement or glass production – releasing the energy downstream as needed. Industrial partners can use the TESIS facility to test their concepts or components and take them to market maturity by making the most of the competencies provided by the research community.