Cryogenic, Long-Duration Energy Storage in a 100% Clean Energy Future

on March 29, 2019

A future where 100% of the world’s electricity comes from clean energy sources isn’t just wishful thinking – it’s mandated by the hard realities of climate change. Getting energy from fossil fuels is a hard habit for humanity to break, but the good news is that momentum finally is on the side of renewable energy and energy storage. Renewables targets at every level of government, new capacity market rules being implemented by grid operators, and the availability and cost-effectiveness of long-duration energy storage resources are all helping create a major paradigm shift in the energy industry.

Across the United States, several states and more than 100 cities have adopted ambitious 100% clean energy goals. Xcel Energy made a landmark announcement in late 2018 as the first US utility to commit to fully providing clean energy with a pledge to supply 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 across its service area in eight US states.

Europe has made even greater progress. Most European countries have set similar renewables targets, and some have made significant headway. Germany gets 36% of its electricity from renewable sources, Denmark gets over 50% and Iceland generates the most clean electric-ity per person on earth, with almost 100% of its energy coming from renewables.

The quantum leaps we’re seeing in the market are also possible because the cost of renewable energy is on par with fossil-fuel generation. The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar fell 85% from US$350/MWh in 2009 to US$50/MWh in 2017, and according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is expected to drop to US$37/MWh by 2050. The wind industry saw similar price drops, with the mean wind energy LCOE dropping to US$45/MWh in 2017.

Competitive prices are helping to spur unprecedented levels of renewables deployments. The U.S. Energy Informa-tion Administration projects that from 2020 to 2050 utility-scale wind capacity will grow by 20GW and utility-scale solar photovoltaic capacity will grow by 127GW in the United States alone. With these market drivers making renewables smart business, it’s clear that the march toward 100% clean energy is much more than a political movement.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCryogenic, Long-Duration Energy Storage in a 100% Clean Energy Future

Check The Costs As Battery Energy Storage Sparks Consumer Interest

on March 29, 2019

A booming market for home solar energy systems is bringing battery storage into the spotlight, but households are being urged to crunch the numbers first.

While solar panel prices have dropped sharply and can now pay for themselves in less than four years, battery systems — which store solar energy for use at night — don’t deliver the same financial benefits yet.

Batteries alone can still take 10-15 years to recover their cost, but solar specialists say there are other reasons tempting buyers, including environmental benefits and protection from blackouts.

Home solar system numbers surged 12 per cent nationally last year to 2.02 million, costing as little as $5000 for a large system. But a typical battery costs about $15,000.

ZEN Energy founder Richard Turner said new players were coming into the battery supply market, which would bring down costs.

“The market I think will get very competitive in the next 12 months and pricing will continue to tumble, like solar has,” he said.

Not all batteries deliver blackout back-up, but households wanting to go green are still signing up, with help from energy incentives in some states.

“Instead of 30-40 per cent of energy from solar you are getting 70-80-90 per cent of your energy from the sun — that’s driving a lot of people,” Mr Turner said.

Home battery customer Jim Young said he had cut power bills by 50-60 per cent since having his battery installed. “The battery makes it possible to spread the efficiency of the system into the evening hours when there’s no sun being generated,” he said.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCheck The Costs As Battery Energy Storage Sparks Consumer Interest

Florida Utility Plans World’s Largest Battery Combined With Solar

on March 29, 2019

Major US utility Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is planning to build the world’s largest battery energy storage system adjacent to an existing solar power plant, with plans to roll out multiple other storage systems across the state.

With the key proposed battery standing at 409MW capacity, the Florida energy company claims it will be four times larger than the largest battery currently operating worldwide. Furthermore, the system will help reduce fossil fuel usage and thereby accelerate the decommissioning of two neighbouring, 1970s-era natural gas power units.

The FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center will be powered by an existing PV plant in Parrish, Manatee County, and capable of distributing 900MWh of electricity. It will start serving customers in 2021, with the batteries being used particularly during peak demand periods, thereby reducing the requirement for electricity from other power plants. It will be able to provide energy the equivalent of 329,000 homes for a period of two hours, saving FPL customers more than US$100 million in the process.

Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL, said: “This is a monumental milestone in realizing the full benefits of solar power and yet another example of how FPL is working hard to position Florida as the global gold standard for clean energy.”

The company has 18 solar power plants currently in operation and four more entering construction, but it is no stranger to solar-plus-storage, having opened the largest plant combining solar and storage at Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County in 2018, and the company is now also planning smaller battery installations and solar plants across the state. This, while carrying out efficiency upgrades to existing combustion turbines at other power plants, will help to replace 1,638MW of traditional generating capacity.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFlorida Utility Plans World’s Largest Battery Combined With Solar

Tesla’s Osaka Station Powerpack Is Its Largest Storage System In Asia

on March 28, 2019

Tesla has built another Powerpack system in record time, this time at Osaka train station in Japan, where it will be used as emergency backup and to reduce peak energy demand. According to the company on Twitter, the 42 Powerpack units will provide enough energy to safely move a train and its passengers for up to 30 minutes to the nearest station in the event of a power failure.

Tesla says the 7MWh project makes this one its biggest energy storage development in Asia, and like its giant Australian Powerpack system, it was completed with eye-watering speed — the hardware was apparently installed in just two days.

Osaka’s trains are some of the busiest in Japan, transporting millions of people every day, so Tesla’s Powerpack will undoubtedly prove a blessing during power interruptions. While the company’s energy division tends to take a backseat to its EV work, its 2018 figures show it’s playing an increasingly prominent role not only within the Tesla empire, but across the energy storage landscape in general. Last year the company deployed 1.04Gwh of energy storage, nearly triple the 358MWh rolled out in 2017.

Update (3/27 7 PM): This post has been updated to reflect that Osaka Powerpack is Tesla’s largest energy storage system in Asia, not the largest one in all of Asia.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsTesla’s Osaka Station Powerpack Is Its Largest Storage System In Asia

Dynapower Releases 1.5-MW And 3-MW Utility-Scale Energy Storage Inverters

on March 28, 2019

Energy storage product developer Dynapower has introduced a new line of utility-scale energy storage inverters.

The air-cooled CPS-1500 and CPS-3000 are available in both indoor and outdoor configurations and work with all battery chemistries. Each feature a high-efficiency, three-level topology designed for both grid-tied and microgrid applications.

The Gen 4 CPS inverters also feature Dynapower’s proprietary Dynamic Transfer technology, which allows for the seamless transfer from grid-tied to microgrid mode, and industry-leading Black Start capabilities (in the event of a complete system power outage, Black Start restores power to the facility without the need for external power). Multiple CPS units can be paralleled together to meet the sizing and power needs of any energy storage installation.

Outdoor rated CPS inverters are enclosed in NEMA 3R containers that can be moved with a forklift and allow for placement on gravel or concrete pylons, creating installation savings.

Dynapower’s CPS inverters are an integrated solution containing all required protective features, as well as an AC output breaker and DC disconnect switch. This creates cost savings for end-users and integrators when compared with other inverters that require additional add-on items needed for battery integration. CPS inverters can be supplied with MV transformers to easily integrate customer supplied battery systems into any network.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsDynapower Releases 1.5-MW And 3-MW Utility-Scale Energy Storage Inverters

Tesla Batteries Reach Eritrean Villages In SolarCentury’s Minigrids

on March 28, 2019

UK company Solarcentury has commissioned two solar-storage-diesel mini-grids in rural communities in Eritrea that are far away from the grid and have relied purely on diesel power until now.

The hybrid power systems at Areza (1.25MW) and Maidma (1MW) took eight months to build, with a combination of solar PV, lithium-ion batteries from US firm Tesla, and backup diesel generators from Caterpillar.

The sites, providing 24/7 and cheaper power to 40,000 people and businesses, will be operated by the Eritrean Electricity Company, whose staff have been trained by Solarcentury.

The project was funded by the Eritrean Government with support from the European Union Delegation to the State of Eritrea and the United Nations Development Programme.

Solarcentury project manager, Theo Guerre-Canon, said: “The community are at the heart of this project. Our hope is that access to reliable electricity will support wider economic growth in the region, and social development. For example, there’s a clinic in Areza that will now benefit from uninterrupted electricity. The Eritrean project presents a model for rural electrification, and Solarcentury is in discussions about similar projects across Africa.”

Tesfai Ghebrehiwet, director of Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mines, added: “Solarcentury were very focused, and kept the project progressing at a quick pace in remote conditions. The Ministry of Energy and Mines are very pleased with the process and results.”

When the project was first announced, our sister site at Solar Media, PV Tech, spoke to Daniel Davis, director of hybrid power systems at Solarcentury, about the opportunities and challenges in off-grid renewables in Africa.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsTesla Batteries Reach Eritrean Villages In SolarCentury’s Minigrids

Repsol Invests in Storage Startup Ampere Amid Shift to Cleaner Energy

on March 28, 2019

Spain’s largest oil and gas company, Repsol, has invested in Spanish battery startup Ampere Energy, in a move to emulate industry peers taking positions in clean energy technologies.

Madrid-based Repsol this month put an unspecified amount into Ampere, a residential energy storage player from Valencia with a presence in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Benelux and the U.K.

The deal gives Repsol a seat on Ampere’s board and provides Ampere with access to Repsol’s Technology Lab research and development center. Ampere Energy CEO Ignacio Osorio said Repsol’s backing would help the company “undertake ambitious growth plans.”

Ampere has developed a virtual power plant technology called Amperia that it said could be used to tie together distributed energy storage assets. It is unclear if this aggregation capability extends to third-party batteries or is limited to Ampere’s own battery systems, which the company says use artificial intelligence to adapt to user requirements.

The investment comes as Repsol undergoes a major corporate repositioning. In common with other European oil and gas majors, the Spanish giant is keen to reinvent itself as a diversified energy company.

Last November it paid €733 million ($826 million) for almost 2.4 gigawatts of low-emission generation capacity plus a portfolio of 750,000 residential grid customers from the Cantabria-based electricity supplier Viesgo.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsRepsol Invests in Storage Startup Ampere Amid Shift to Cleaner Energy

Move Over, Lithium Ion: Thermal Energy Storage Finds a Niche

on March 27, 2019

Thermal energy storage is gaining ground in refrigeration applications, providing demand management for one of utilities’ most energy-intensive industries.

Industrial refrigeration consumes more energy per cubic foot than any other utility load, said Collin Coker, vice president, sales and marketing, Viking Cold Solutions.

Thermal energy storage generally involves salt water-based solutions that can absorb heat and supplement refrigeration. In these applications, thermal storage offers cost advantages over lithium ion batteries, he said.

“From the utility’s perspective, refrigeration is a very intense load and these commercial and industrial sites are located all over the place,” he said. The grocery stores and other cold storage operators often pay high demand charges in areas like California and New England, he added.

“We can shift the load from peak daytime usage to night time usage, and also reduce overall consumption by running refrigerators at night, when they run more efficiently,” he said.

Who’s using thermal storage
Viking Cold Solutions and Axiom Energy are participating in demand management programs to provide thermal energy storage in refrigeration applications.

Viking Cold Solutions partnered with Eversource to install a thermal energy storage system to reduce the Greater Boston Food Bank’s peak demand, realizing a 75 percent reduction in consumption during the program period, the company said. The partnership is part of Eversource’s Demand Reduction Demonstration in Massachusetts.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsMove Over, Lithium Ion: Thermal Energy Storage Finds a Niche

LCOE For Li-Ion Batteries Has Fallen To $187/MWh — BNEF

on March 27, 2019

Since the first six months of 2018, the benchmark levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for lithium-ion batteries has plunged 35% to $187/MWh, BNEF says. For projects that have gone into construction in the opening months of this year, the LCOE for solar PV stands at $57/MWh, down 18% from a year earlier. However, recent declines in the LCOE for solar largely occurred in the third quarter of 2018, rather than earlier in the year, as mid-year changes to PV policy in China left the global market awash with surplus modules, BNEF says.

Recent analysis also shows that the benchmark LCOE for offshore wind has tumbled by 24% over the past year, while the onshore wind LCOE has dropped 10%. These “spectacular” declines in cost, BNEF says, suggest that lithium-ion batteries and offshore wind in particular “are now at the center” of the global energy transition.

“There have been staggering improvements in the cost-competitiveness of these low-carbon options, thanks to technology innovation, economies of scale, stiff price competition and manufacturing experience,” says Elena Giannakopoulou, head of energy economics at BNEF. “The LCOE per megawatt-hour for onshore wind, solar PV and offshore wind have fallen by 49%, 84% and 56% respectively since 2010. That for lithium-ion battery storage has dropped by 76% since 2012, based on recent project costs and historical battery pack prices.”

BNEF says the declining cost of lithium-ion batteries is particularly exciting because it creates a wealth of “new opportunities for them to balance a renewables-heavy generation mix.” Technologies such as open-cycle gas turbines, long relied upon by grid operators to handle fluctuations in electricity demand, increasingly must compete with batteries that can offer up to four hours of energy storage, it says.

“Solar PV and onshore wind have won the race to be the cheapest sources of new ‘bulk generation’ in most countries, but the encroachment of clean technologies is now going well beyond that, threatening the balancing role that gas-fired plant operators, in particular, have been hoping to play,” says Tifenn Brandily, energy economics analyst at BNEF.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsLCOE For Li-Ion Batteries Has Fallen To $187/MWh — BNEF

New England Grid Operator Puzzles in Microgrids and Energy Storage: Regional Outlook

on March 27, 2019

The good news in New England is that the trend is toward using lower-carbon fuels. The bad news is that grid managers are operating on thin margins and may have to rely on costlier measures to maintain grid reliability. What role will energy storage and microgrids have during this period?

The New England Independent System Operator, ISO-NE, says in its 2019 Regional Electricity Outlook that its challenges are to integrate greater levels of renewables onto the grid while also maintaining a robust transmission system and energy security. Some of the issues to overcome are bringing battery storage to market while dealing with stricter air emissions rules that can limit the use of conventional infrastructure.

While battery storage may be a challenge, it is also an opportunity: In the past, New England has benefited from two pumped-hydro facilities that have supplied nearly 2,000 MW of capacity within 10 minutes. But today, the report goes on to say, the region has 20 MW of grid-scale battery storage, and it has another 1,300 MW on the table, which could come on line by 2022.

Energy storage can help maintain balance and frequency control while providing back-up power during electricity outages for a few hours at a time. And those devices can also enable the development of microgrids, which typically have some combination of localized generation and battery storage. While the ultimate goal is to ensure reliability, batteries do need to be charged and if they are needed during an outage, they may actually end up draining energy from the grid. (Editors Note: This is where a microgrid can come into play. Unaffected by the grid outage, its on-site generators continue to operate, energizing the microgrid’s customers or batteries — whichever is the priority at the time.)

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNew England Grid Operator Puzzles in Microgrids and Energy Storage: Regional Outlook