UAE Integrates 648MWh of Sodium Sulfur Batteries In One Swoop

on January 31, 2019

Sodium sulfur (NAS) batteries produced by Japan’s NGK Insulators are being put into use on a massive scale in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The company’s battery systems have been deployed across 10 locations – 15 systems in total – adding up to 108MW / 648MWh in total, with each system able to store energy for six hours. The total undertaking includes 12 x 4MW systems and three 20MW systems. The official government Emirates News Agency described the project as the “world’s largest Virtual Battery Plant” as it opened earlier this month.

A representative at NGK’s power business division told the ‘virtual’ description is correct in the sense that the 15 systems in 10 locations “can be controlled as a single plant. While of course they can still be controlled individually when local support to the grid is needed”.

Critical to this aggregation of the systems is the CISC (Centralised Integrated System Controller) which will be located at a control room in Mussafah, an industrial district in Abu Dhabi’s southwest where some of the battery systems are also located, with the rest in nearby Sila. CISC and the NAS systems are “ready to be operated by the TSO (transmission system operator)”, the NGK representative said.

Operational parameters increased from original scope
Awaidha Al Marar, chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Energy, attended an inauguration event on 17 January, as a number of events including Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and World Future Energy Summit (WFES) took place in the region.

The NGK CISC 648MWh project will help the city load balance across its networks during the daytime, as well as providing up to six hours backup in the case of grid outages. As with many energy storage system projects, it is primarily about reducing the strain on the grid at times of peak demand.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsUAE Integrates 648MWh of Sodium Sulfur Batteries In One Swoop

GE Restructure Will See Leaner Power but Heftier Renewable Energy Division

on January 31, 2019

GE has announced it will integrate its renewables, grid, and energy storage assets into a simplified, single business that nearly doubles the size of its Renewable Energy division, as the company banks on the accelerated uptake of grid-connected renewables worldwide.

The expansion will see GE’s grid solutions, solar solutions, and storage businesses move from GE Power to GE Renewable Energy. The company also said it will regionalize its onshore wind business to simplify and make that business more “local.”

The company’s freshest business reshuffle was announced a day before GE is expected to report its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2018. The industrial conglomerate has suffered a series of financial ups and downs over the past year, owing in part to weaknesses in the power segment.

A Mass Consolidation

The company—long a formidable leader in the gas turbine business—has been struggling since its $10.6 billion acquisition of Alstom’s Power and Grid business in 2015. Last November, GE announced the reorganization of its Power division into two businesses, forming GE Gas Power, comprised of Gas Power Systems and Power Services, and GE Power Portfolio, comprised of the Steam, Grid Solutions, Nuclear, and Power Conversion businesses. In a December interview with POWER, newly appointed GE Gas Power CEO Scott Strazik acknowledged that renewable energy will continue to grow “exponentially,” but he also offered optimism about the growth of the company’s natural gas business.

GE Renewable Energy CEO Jerome Pecresse, who created Alstom’s Renewable Power business—a division that had close to 10,000 employees when it was absorbed into GE—told reporters in a Jan. 30 call that the renewables and grid consolidation would create a $16 billion business with 40,000 employees. GE’s Renewable Energy division now employs about 23,000 workers, he said. As of the end of 2017, GE had a total 313,000 employees, about 83,500 of which were affiliated with the Power division.

It will mean that GE Renewable Energy, which has so far housed the company’s onshore wind, offshore wind, LM Wind Power, and hydro offerings, will now also oversee its grid solutions and hybrid renewables technologies, which were previously part of the Power division. That will leave GE Power’s portfolio with the steam, nuclear, and power conversion businesses. A GE spokesperson told POWER that GE does not plan to dispose of any businesses as a result of this announcement.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsGE Restructure Will See Leaner Power but Heftier Renewable Energy Division

UK Looks For Energy Storage Alternatives

on January 31, 2019

The UK government has launched a competition for innovative large-scale energy storage that could provide a market competitive alternative to conventional technologies, such as batteries or pumped hydro.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said a range of storage technologies are within the scope, with a minimum output target of 30MW or minimum capacity of 50 megawatt-hours.

It added that Power-to-X, such as power-to-gas, with a minimum input of 5MW are also in the scope.
Up to £20m will be made available between 2019 and 2021 to support up to three demonstration projects.

The projects would need to be built by March 2021 and have operational testing completed by December 2021.

“Projects should be at a technology readiness level of six or above, which could result in lower capital or operating costs to the traditional storage technologies, or improved capacity, sustainability and response rates at a comparable cost,” BEIS said.

Interested parties have until 26 April to submit a proposal to BEIS, the offices of which are pictured.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsUK Looks For Energy Storage Alternatives

Tesla Dives Deeper Into Energy Storage, As Solar Slumps

on January 30, 2019

Tesla has had a lot of big headlines over its success with its EV business. During Q3 the company turned its first quarterly profit in, well, as long as we’ve been covering the company, and maintained profitability during Q4 on the back of the successful scaling of its Model 3 production.

The company’s success with energy storage is less talked about. Tesla continues to scale its energy storage deployments, but on the solar side the company has clearly ceded SolarCity’s former market leadership to competitors.

During Q4 both of those trends were clear. The company deployed 255 megawatt-hours of energy storage to reach a total of 1,040 megawatt-hours for the full year, including deploying the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in Australia. This is a nearly 3x growth over 2017 levels.

Tesla observed operational success as well, and says that it cut its sales-to-installation time on energy storage systems in half in 2018. And while it is far less than the “mad growth” of 300-400% that Musk predicted for 2019 in August, Tesla still expects to double its 2019 energy storage deployments.

This includes bigger and bigger batteries. Following on the Hornsdale deployment in South Australia, Tesla says that it has received “multiple requests” to build even more massive batteries.

Solar Roof deployment “slow”

But while the battery business grows, solar continues to contract. Tesla reported only 73 MW of retrofit PV systems in Q4, a 21% decrease sequentially. The shareholder letter specifically used the word “retrofit”, and did not state how many of its Solar Roofs it had deployed.

Despite a lot of hype in the rollout, Tesla has been very hard to pin down on what is actually happening with Solar Roof production and deployment. The promises of the future are still there, with Tesla stating that it plans to ramp production of the product with “significantly improved manufacturing capabilities during 2019, based on the design iterations and testing underway”, but notes that installation at present are “slow”.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsTesla Dives Deeper Into Energy Storage, As Solar Slumps

Solid-State Batteries: A New Era Of Energy Storage

on January 30, 2019

As the race to develop electric vehicles moves to the forefront of the automotive industry, it is vital that battery technology keeps pace with the e-mobility revolution. However, the limited capability of batteries is the primary reason that the growth of electric vehicle R&D has slowed. Lithium-ion batteries are reaching maximum energy density, and it is necessary to develop more powerful batteries that do not have the drawback of flammable liquid electrolytes. Solid-state batteries could be the way forward. They have significant advantages such as:

solid electrolytes;
longer battery life;
stability across a wider span of temperatures; and
no requirement for a cooling system.

What has hindered the growth of solid-state batteries?
Solid-state batteries have been around for decades. However, they have just begun to garner interest from the likes of Robert Bosch and Toyota. Robert Bosch acquired SEEO (a start-up focused on developing solid-state batteries) in 2015 to increase its foothold in the battery technology industry. Since then the automotive giant has taken a U-turn and disbanded its research as the investment was too risky and required higher initial investments than expected. Cost seems to be the primary factor hindering the growth of this technology.

The future of solid-state batteries
Although solid-state battery technology is costly and requires high-risk investments, the following major players are working on its development:

Murata Manufacturing;
Hyundai Motor;
NGK Insulators;
LG Chem;
Samsung; and
Union Carbide.

What is more, although the major driving factor of this technology is electric vehicles, it could find application in other fields. TDK, a Japanese electronic battery component maker, is at the forefront of developing small solid-state batteries for electronic devices such as phones, computers and wearables. Looking at patent filing trends, Japan is leading in terms of research. They are followed by China, the United States and South Korea. Japan has the potential to bring this technology forward far earlier than its competitors and regain its foothold in the energy storage sector. However, this is subject to solving the manufacturing problems associated with the production of large solid-state batteries.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsSolid-State Batteries: A New Era Of Energy Storage

Costs Are Falling For Renewable Energy Stored In Batteries

on January 30, 2019

One of the major challenges of using renewable energy sources like wind or solar is that there’s overproduction when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Solar and wind power is produced mostly during the day, then drops off at night — when people tend to use the most power. Batteries can help smooth out those peaks and valleys, but cost has limited wider adoption. Now battery storage is maturing. So what does that mean for regular people? Marketplace’s Jed Kim talks with Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage at energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, who says the tech is getting to individual houses through transmission lines, maybe even yours. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Ravi Manghani: It’s definitely becoming an increasing part of the resource mix that electric utilities are currently owning and operating. So even if the customers themselves are not deploying battery storage, they are getting the benefits of battery storage in the form of a consistent efficient energy supply unit.

Jed Kim: What’s driving the demand for cleaner energy and battery storage? Is it from consumers or is it utilities who are looking to cut costs?

Manghani: I think it’s definitely a bit of both, and if I may add a third element, we are facing a huge climate change problem today, so some of that is being driven by the regulators that are directing the utilities to go for a cleaner renewable grid. But obviously one of the drivers is the cost reductions that we have seen, both solar panels in the past 15 years or so and more recently, in the last eight to 10 years, the battery costs have also come down pretty significantly. We’re talking about about 80-85 percent cost reduction over the past decade for battery storage.

Kim: You’ve been in the renewable energy sector for about a decade. Is demand accelerating now more quickly than anticipated?

Manghani: Yeah, so, I’m going to try to not quote the “Game of Thrones” reference of “winter is coming.” But since the beginning of this decade, we have been talking about how energy storage is that next big thing that is going to be revolutionizing the way the grid operates or looks. And for the first five years or so of that decade, that promise was never followed through, but something triggered in 2015, 2016. And when I say something, it’s predominantly the cost aspect, of course. The cost points came to a level where there was an automatic crossover, your very typical hockey stick adoption of any new technology where the first few years it’s fairly flat and then you reach an inflection point and the market just picks up. There are several drivers — the utilities and the end customers getting more familiar with the technology. Tesla made a big splash when they said they were going to be selling Powerwalls in 2015. That sort of coincided with the increase in interest from the various market participants, be it customers like residential homeowners or even large electric utilities or even some of the commercial players.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCosts Are Falling For Renewable Energy Stored In Batteries

Consumers Energy Begins to Experiment With Solar-Plus-Storage

on January 30, 2019

The 1,800-panel project is relatively small, with both the battery and generation sized at about a half a megawatt. But Consumers’ announcement makes clear the utility will be adding more.

“Today, there is very little storage on the grid, so electricity is generated just moments before you use it,” Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of operations, said in a statement. “With large batteries, we will make our grid more efficient, effective and sustainable.”

Rochow said batteries are “a critical part of Michigan’s energy future.” Consumers is the largest energy provider in the state, serving 6.7 million gas and electric customers.

The Circuit West project is the first solar+storage system in the state, but it is not the first battery on Consumers’ grid. Last fall, the utility installed a 1 MW battery at its Parkview Substation on Western Michigan University’s Kalamazoo campus. Consumers said it will study the performance of both batteries “to determine how to best use and integrate the technology across the electric distribution grid.”

As the cost of batteries has fallen, utilities have begun installing them to improve reliability and to deliver more clean energy. Global Market Insights issued an analysis this month estimating that the lithium-ion battery global market size will exceed $60 billion by 2024. BloombergNEF has said it expects the global energy storage market, which excludes pumped hydro, will grow to a cumulative 942 GW / 2,857 GWh by 2040.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsConsumers Energy Begins to Experiment With Solar-Plus-Storage

Tesla, Fluence and Other Energy Storage System Integrators Playing Bigger Role on Green Grid

on January 29, 2019

Energy storage system integrators play an increasingly important — and shifting — role as more renewable energy is added to the grid, according to a new Navigant Research report.

Integrators design, build and operate large, grid-scale energy storage systems. Think Tesla and Fluence.

In a recent interview with Microgrid Knowledge, Alex Eller, senior research analyst for Navigant Research, shed light on what integrators do and why their role is changing.

The utility-scale energy storage market has grown increasingly competitive since 2016. And as the market matures and expands, the integrators play a larger role in ensuring project success and profitability.

Integrators are transitioning away from offering pure project development services and instead are providing integrated hardware and software systems for energy storage customers. Often they leverage software and controls to maximize the value of a project, according to the report, Navigant Research Leaderboard: Utility-Scale Energy Storage Systems Integrators.

Markets shift as grid greens
The biggest energy storage market, long-term, is no longer frequency regulation because that market is becoming saturated. Instead, energy storage is increasingly used to help bolster renewable energy use on the grid. Generally, under this model, storage system integrators sign power purchase agreements (PPA) with utilities that include compensation for providing stored renewable energy released during on-peak hours, Eller says.

These agreements are becoming more common in California and the southwest US, he says. “Utilities are willing to pay more if they can control the output of the solar and use solar during night-time peaks.” For example, companies capture solar for release during evening peaks. “Utilities are showing they’re willing to pay a premium for that.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsTesla, Fluence and Other Energy Storage System Integrators Playing Bigger Role on Green Grid

NY Offers up to $15.5M for Projects that Value Stack Energy Storage

on January 29, 2019

New York is offering up to $15.5 million for projects that show the benefits of value stacking distributed energy storage for retail electric customers and the grid (PON 3541).

Proposals are due December 31, 2019.

The solicitation was issued by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), which seeks commercial projects that can help unravel the complexities of value stacking — the term used for capturing several different revenue streams from one project.

The authority is looking for projects that can handle the operational complexity of determining which services to provide in a value stack — and in what combination and when during the day or year.

NYSERDA also hopes to improve understanding of the complexity of transacting with several different entities. “Each entity uses different structures and rules to procure and compensate the values, including tariffs, market mechanisms, programs, auctions, and service contracts,” says the solicitation.

A third complexity NYSERDA looks to solve involves finding business and financing models that bring practicality to capital investments.

The solicitation seeks real-world commercial projects that offer approaches to value stacking that are scalable and are replicable. The projects may provide value to retail electric customers, distributed generation, utilities, and the New York State Independent System Operator.

Proposals will undergo multiple levels of review. As a first step, applicants must provide a concept papers. Projects selected for the next stage will be invited to transform concepts into feasibility studies or full demonstration proposals. Funding will be available for feasibility studies and proposals.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNY Offers up to $15.5M for Projects that Value Stack Energy Storage

Eggshells May Power The Renewable Energy Revolution

on January 29, 2019

Ready for some happy news among all the gloom surrounding government shutdowns, border security, and malfeasance in high places? Here’s something that may put a smile on your face. According to researchers in Western Australia, eggshells may be the key to abundant, inexpensive energy storage.

Dr Manickam Minakshi and his colleagues began experimenting with eggshells in 2017 using eggs purchased at the local supermarket. “Eggshells have a high level of calcium carbonate, which can act as a form of replenishing energy,” he tells the Canberra Times.

“What’s interesting is that the egg membrane around the yolk allowed us to cook it at a high temperature, crush it into powder and bake it at 500 degrees Celsius with the chemical still present.The final baking process changes the chemical composition from calcium carbonate to calcium oxide and allows it to become a conduit for electricity.

For Dr Minakshi’s team, this represents a first step towards work on an alternative battery to store energy from renewable energies such as solar panels and wind turbines. “Renewable energy resources are intermittent as they depend on the weather,” he says. “When we have an excess, we need a battery to store it. Ground egg shells serve as the electrode to store this.” Before being heated, the eggshell is a positive electrode but when heated it changes to be a negative electrode, he explains.

Dr Minakshi says he hopes his research will attract the attention of renewable energy companies. Assuming further tests prove the validity of his preliminary results, abundant and affordable materials like eggshells have the potential to provide energy storage from items that would otherwise be little more than bio-waste.

“You can buy them at a 12-pack from Coles for $4 or pick them up from the food court,” he says. “What’s even more important is that you can use the eggshells that are thrown into landfills. This brings in the potential to reduce the amount of bio-waste we produce.”

The research in the laboratory will continue to determine how much electricity the eggshell powder can store and for how long. Minakshi even has plans to test free range eggshells to see if they have better conductive properties, although why that would be is not clear. Perhaps free range chickens have higher levels of self esteem which lead to chemical changes in their eggs.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEggshells May Power The Renewable Energy Revolution