Coal-Killing Long-Duration Energy Storage For Vermont

on December 23, 2019

Whelp, it looks like the US coal industry is going to end the 2010s the way it started. Back in 2009, US coal producers probably didn’t know they were staring down at the bottom of an abyss fueled by natural gas and renewable energy — or if they knew, they weren’t telling. Now that the 2020s are here, a major new threat to coal is taking shape in the form of long-duration energy storage. And it’s happening in Vermont, of all places.

Aside from hydropower dams and “water batteries,” no utility-scale storage technology on the market today can provide the long-duration standard of 10 or more hours. That goal has been set by the US Department of Energy, which would actually prefer a duration range of up to 100 hours but will settle for 10, for now.

Lithium-ion batteries are currently the go-to technology for energy storage, but they only provide for a few hours at a time. Scaling up an Li-ion array with staggered discharge times could be an option, but it’s not particularly cost-effective.

Meanwhile, the Energy Department is aggressively seeking long-duration, utility-scale batteries for two related reasons, neither of which spells good new for coal, or for that matter, natural gas.

First, more energy storage translates into more grid integration for renewables, which is another target of the Energy Department, despite anti-renewable mutterings from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Second, more grid integration for renewables means a greater need for modern grid services that provide for flexibility and resiliency, which can be fostered by utility scale energy storage.

More Energy Storage For Vermont
That brings us to Vermont. The UK company Highview Power is bringing its long-duration energy storage technology to Vermont in partnership with one of the top 20 solar developers in the US. That would be Vermont-based Encore Renewable Energy. For those of you keeping score at home, Encore won the #19 slot in Solar World’s “Top Solar Contractors” list.

The new project makes it clear why the Energy Department is eyeballing long duration energy storage for the sparkling green grid of the future. Highview’s big new battery will allow for bringing more renewables into the Vermont grid and that’s just for starters.

As described by Highview, the new battery will also provide market arbitrage, synchronous voltage support, frequency regulation and reserves, synchronous inertia, black start capabilities, and other services that monetize the facility while efficiently balancing electricity supply and demand.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCoal-Killing Long-Duration Energy Storage For Vermont

Michigan’s Grid Is Not as Resilient as It Could Be. Energy Storage Can Help

on December 23, 2019

In Michigan, we’re lucky to have one of the largest pumped storage facilities in the world. At the Ludington Pumped Storage facility, water is transported uphill when cheap excess electricity is available and allowed to flow back downhill through a turbine when electricity is needed. Despite its clear value to the grid and to the increased integration of renewables, the 1,872-megawatt facility took four years to build and is unlikely to be replicated.

Instead, the greatest expansion in energy storage over the last decade has been in batteries. Utility-scale battery storage capacity has soared over the past 10 or so years, from almost nothing before 2010 to nearly 1,000 megawatts today, driven in large part by lithium-ion battery storage, the price of which has fallen 85 percent since 2010. There has also been growth in the number of energy storage projects outside of lithium-ion batteries, such as compressed air energy storage and flywheel storage.

But despite the value of pumped storage in the state’s energy mix, Michigan has been slow to adopt these booming new energy storage technologies relative to the growth seen on the coasts.

This is unfortunate, because, as revealed by the Michigan Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) recent State Energy Assessment, Michigan’s energy system is not as resilient as it could be. Storage could help.

Michigan ranks near the bottom of all U.S. states in terms of electric reliability due in part to harsh summer thunderstorms and bouts of extreme winter freeze, but also due to aging infrastructure and outdated systems. Energy storage allows the grid to tap power at will and store power in times of excess and so represents a massive opportunity to shore up reliability and resiliency.

By shifting electric demand to off-peak times and keeping the grid stable, storage can serve as an alternative to old ways of upgrading the grid. Utilities may not need to charge ratepayers for as many distribution-level projects like new power lines or transformers because many of those projects may not be needed if energy storage is deployed appropriately. Several states have required utilities to analyze these “non-wires alternatives” before spending ratepayer dollars on large distribution grid upgrades.

The disparity between Michigan and other regions when it comes to energy storage can be explained in part by policy hurdles. The problem is multifaceted, involving state regulations and utilities as well as the wholesale market.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsMichigan’s Grid Is Not as Resilient as It Could Be. Energy Storage Can Help

Bipartisan Focus on Energy Innovation Emerges

on December 23, 2019

A congressional subcommittee has advanced three energy-related bills that push for technological innovation in geothermal energy development, battery storage, and power grid modernization—innovations that could help to slow greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the bills, the Advanced Geothermal Research and Development Act of 2019 (H.R. 5374), “takes important steps toward advancing a woefully underutilized source of energy,” said Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) at the 19 December markup of the legislation by the Subcommittee on Energy of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The legislation, which was introduced by the full committee’s ranking member Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), was approved with bipartisan and unanimous support, as were the other two bills. The bills now go to the full committee for consideration.

Geothermal energy, which is literally heat derived from Earth, contributes to just 0.4% of electric power generation in the United States, according to the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Although the United States already generates more total power from geothermal sources than any other country, proportionately, it pales in comparison with geothermal leaders like Iceland, which gets 26% of its total electric power generation from geothermal, according to a report by the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank.

A 30 May DOE report, GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet, noted that there is enormous untapped potential for geothermal electricity generation in the United States from “vast and geographically dispersed” resources. These resources aren’t just located near volcanically and hydrothermally active areas like Yellowstone National Park; rather, the report stated, “Shallow-earth resources exist across all 50 states and can be used for [geothermal heat pumps] wherever the ground can be cost-effectively accessed to depths below seasonal temperature variations.”

The report found that by 2050, geothermal power generation could increase more than 26-fold from today and reach 60 gigawatts of installed capacity, providing 8.5% of all U.S. electricity generation. However, “challenges in resource exploration, drilling, and development present fundamental barriers to improved economic capture of geothermal resource potential.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsBipartisan Focus on Energy Innovation Emerges

Battery Storage On Verge Of Changing Texas Power Grid

on December 20, 2019

Texas is carving out a leadership position in adopting large-scale battery storage as battery prices fall, technology improves and electricity demand grows, potentially paving the way for renewable power to dominate the state’s energy mix.

The amount of storage on the state’s power grid is still small — just 100 megawatts in a system with a generating capacity of nearly 80,000 megawatts — but is expected to more than triple to about 360 megawatts in 2020 and grow even faster in coming years. The state’s grid manager, meanwhile, is considering proposals to develop some 7,200 megawatts of large-scale battery storage within the next five years or so, exceeding the amount of natural gas generation in the pipeline.

“It’s a stunning development,” said Sam Huntington, an analyst specializing in battery storage for the global consulting firm IHS Markit, “and nothing anyone would have predicted a couple years ago.”

While only a fraction of proposed generation projects typically get built, Huntington said the flood of battery proposals indicates where the market is headed. Texas, meanwhile, has become one of the leaders in grid-scale storage, in part because it can design policies without waiting for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where a contentious rule-making process for deploying batteries on the grid is underway. The Texas power grid, which is not interconnected with other state systems, does not fall under FERC’s jurisdiction.

In Texas, which ranks fourth among states in installed battery capacity, regulators are wrestling with broad, first-time issues such as how to treat energy resources that both draw and generate power and more mundane interconnection concerns of how to effectively and efficiently link batteries from wind farms, solar farms and stand-alone storage units to the grid. At the same time, the opportunity that energy storage provides is driving the value of renewables higher.

Wind energy, for example, generates vast amounts of power at night, when winds in West Texas are at their strongest, but electricity consumption — and prices — are at their lowest. Batteries would allow wind generators to store that power and sell it in the afternoon hours, when demand and prices are at their peak.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsBattery Storage On Verge Of Changing Texas Power Grid

First Long-Duration Liquid Air Energy Storage System Planned for the US

on December 20, 2019

Plans to build the first long-duration liquid air energy storage system in the United States are under way. The minimum 50-megawatt facility expected to provide more than eight hours of storage — 400 megawatt hours — is being planned for northern Vermont.

Long-duration energy storage company Highview Power Storage and renewable energy project developer Encore Renewable Energy announced the utility-scale project this week.

Highview Power says its proprietary liquid air energy storage system, called CRYOBattery, uses excess or off-peak electricity to clean and compress air, which gets stored in liquid form inside insulated tanks at extremely cold temperatures.

“Air turns to liquid when cooled down to -196°C (-320°F), and can then be stored very efficiently in insulated, low pressure vessels,” Highview Power’s site explains. “Exposure to ambient temperatures causes rapid re-gasification and a 700-fold expansion in volume, which is then used to drive a turbine and create electricity without combustion.”

Energy generated from the turning turbine can then be used at peak times, the company said.

In October, London-based Highview Power expressed plans to roll out cryogenic energy storage projects across the United Kingdom, PV Magazine reported. The company expects that its Vermont project will be the first of many in the United States.

“The Vermont facility will contribute to resolving the longstanding energy transmission challenges surrounding the state’s Sheffield-Highgate Export Interface and enable the efficient transport of excess power from renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power to help integrate them on the power grid,” Highview Power and Encore Renewable Energy said.

Citing Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables analysis, the two companies noted that the US energy storage market is expected to grow to nearly $5.4 billion by 2024, mainly driven by utility-scale projects.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFirst Long-Duration Liquid Air Energy Storage System Planned for the US

Five Top Takeaways From Edie’s Energy Storage Masterclass

on December 20, 2019

On Tuesday (17 December), edie hosted a masterclass with EDF Energy on energy storage and onsite renewable generation. Here, we round up the key insights and information on this crucial issue for sustainability and energy managers.

Below are the top five takeaways from the webinar, which saw expert speakers Vincent de Rul, director of energy solutions, and Neil Muller, product owner – battery, at EDF Energy, answer listeners’ questions and deliver key information on energy storage.

1) In a net-zero world, energy storage is not an optional add-on

As Vincent de Rul alluded to several times throughout the webinar, the time is now for action. After net-zero was enshrined into UK law through an amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008, it has become clear that energy storage will play a business-critical role in the transition.

de Rul highlighted at the beginning of the masterclass a line from the IPCC’s landmark report in 2018:

‘The burning question for energy is, how can we each be part of a solution that powers our businesses in a way that is more efficient, cuts waste and curbs emissions?”

2) Net-zero for energy requires a whole-system approach

de Rul went on to emphasise that battery is the key to success but is not the only solution on its own. “It complements efficiency, flex and EV in the mix and is vital to the grid balance and to net-zero.”, he said.

In this way, there is a net-zero network which is “the sum of many parts” as he outlined below. Energy for net-zero means “every drop of resource is used and reused as efficiently as possible”, Vincent said.

He outlined how it was important to have:

Live energy monitoring- identify where you are using and wasting energy.
Reduce your carbon- through guaranteed renewable and low carbon energy sources.
Get flexible: flex your assets to reuse energy and create additional revenue streams through DSR, storage and V2G.
3) Battery storage: Who’s it for?

When assessing who battery storage is for, de Rul outlined that “any type and size of business can benefit from deploying energy storage” – but that “the technology is most appropriate for those businesses that have “particular concerns around energy prices or resilience, and those that undertake critical, energy-intensive industrial processes.”

He also said that it was useful for businesses “that already have on-site generation, as energy storage will allow them to utilise more of their own generation and less energy from the grid.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFive Top Takeaways From Edie’s Energy Storage Masterclass

ESA: ‘Disappointed But Not Dissuaded’ As Energy Storage Loses Out On Tax Credits

on December 19, 2019

Tax provisions announced on 17 December in the US left out any mention of a standalone energy storage ITC, with the CEO of industry body the Energy Storage Association registering the disappointment of the group’s 180 member organisations.

While the solar investment tax credit had enjoyed a somewhat unexpected extension in 2017 to 2020, this time around there was no reprieve and the ITC will decrease at the end of 2019. Only the production tax credit (PTC) for onshore wind received a one-year extension, while both electric vehicles (EVs) and standalone energy storage miss out completely once again.

Within the existing ITC framework, energy storage did qualify for tax credit incentives – but only if installed with solar, and only if installed at the same time as solar. The latter stipulation thereby wiped out any potential extra value or impetus that could have been added for retrofit installations of batteries to existing PV systems, for example. Various sources in the industry had said that they were hopeful of an ITC, including Stem Inc’s Alan Russo, who told the company had been “cautiously optimistic”.

Energy Storage Association CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman, a former state utilities commissioner, said in a statement that the group is disappointed but not dissuaded from continuing efforts to introduce an ITC.

“We are disappointed in the tax provisions announced this morning that omitted a provision for stand-alone energy storage. This was a clear opportunity for Congress to address the urgent challenges of climate change and to support clean energy innovation. The Energy Storage Incentive and Deployment Act of 2019 is a bipartisan measure to level the playing field for energy storage technologies that enable a more resilient, efficient and sustainable grid.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsESA: ‘Disappointed But Not Dissuaded’ As Energy Storage Loses Out On Tax Credits

First Long-Duration, Liquid Air Energy Storage System in The US Announced

on December 19, 2019

The development of the first long-duration liquid air energy storage system in the US has been announced.

The 50MW/400MWh storage system will be located in northern Vermont by Highview Power Storage and Encore Renewable Energy.

The utility-scale scale energy storage plant will help scale renewable energy deployment as well as contribute to resolving the longstanding energy transmission challenges in Vermont.

The system will enable an increase in the capacity of energy generated from renewables such as solar and wind on the power grid to provide consumers with affordable energy.

The project will stabilise the regional electrical grid and ensure future energy security during storms and other disruptions. This includes the ability to store energy for weeks at the lowest levelised cost of long-duration storage in the industry and providing what is called “grid-synchronous inertia,” which balances electrical demand and supply and helps avoid blackouts.

Excess or off-peak electricity is used to clean and compress air which is then stored in liquid form in insulated tanks at temperatures approaching 320 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-196 C). During times when energy demand is high, the pressurised gas is allowed to warm, turning a turbine as it expands and thus generating energy that can be used at peak times when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.

Other services the facility can deliver include market arbitrage, frequency management, reserve, and grid constraint management services.

The US energy storage market is expected to surge over 700% to nearly $5.4 billion by 2024, driven mostly by utility-scale projects, according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewable.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFirst Long-Duration, Liquid Air Energy Storage System in The US Announced

IBM Changes The Energy Storage Game With Cobalt-Free Battery

on December 19, 2019

The leaders of the nations of the world declined to go forth and conquer climate change during the COP25 talks in Madrid earlier this month. That leaves the business of saving the planet up to a hodgepodge of activists, inventors, NGOs, and gigantic corporations. In the latest development, IBM has just slipped word of new energy storage research that could help accelerate the renewable energy transition with a next-gen solution for electric vehicles and stationary batteries, too.

New Energy Storage Technology, Without The (Cough, Cough, Cobalt) Baggage
IBM provided CleanTechnica with an advance copy of the new energy storage announcement so we don’t have a link yet, but the company’s IBM Research branch will probably have it online by the time you eyeball this.

The idea is to clean up the energy storage supply chain by clearing out the clutter of certain heavy metals and other materials commonly used in today’s lithium-ion batteries. That would help reduce the environmental impacts of producing rechargeable electronic goods as well as electric vehicles and stationary energy storage systems.

Aside from environmental concerns, human rights issues are also in play.

Here’s IBM Research on that topic:

“Many battery materials, including heavy metals such as nickel and cobalt, pose tremendous environmental and humanitarian risks. Cobalt in particular, which is largely available in central Africa, has come under fire for careless and exploitative extraction practices.”

They’re not kidding around. Just yesterday, news broke that the organization International Rights Advocates has filed suit against Apple, Alphabet, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla over child labor and other abuses in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsIBM Changes The Energy Storage Game With Cobalt-Free Battery

PV Tech Power 21: Flow in Focus, Long-Duration Contenders And The ESA

on December 18, 2019

The latest volume of PV Tech Power, Solar Media’s quarterly technical journal for the downstream sector, is now available to download free of charge.

This edition’s cover story comes from the deserts of the Middle East, where researchers are getting to grips with the issue of soiling and what can be done to prevent it.

We also take an extensive look at how solar is making great strides in the Middle East, and SolarPower Europe provides a glimpse at how digitalisation is taking over the solar ecosystem.

As always, ‘Storage & Smart Power’, the dedicated section curated and created by, also returns as part of the magazine. This quarter, we look at:

Contenders: Long-duration technologies and who’s behind them

Some of the promising long-duration energy storage technologies – and their champions. While lithium-ion batteries get most of the headlines, long-duration energy storage solutions are gaining ground. We’ve profiled some of established and emerging concepts in this increasingly important class of storage technologies.

Redox flow batteries for renewable energy storage

A team from CENELEST, a joint research venture between the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology and the University of New South Wales, charts the rise of redox flow batteries. A truly deep dive, the article is a thorough examination of various types of flow energy storage and what stands between them and greater success.

Taking charge: Energy Storage Association CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman

Despite making huge strides forward, the energy storage industry is far from done with its work in helping stakeholders across the value chain understand the technologies and the roles they can play in a renewable energy future. Former regional utilities’ commissioner Kelly Speakes-Backman is one of the people working to make that happen every day. With more than 180 member organisations, ESA is speaking up for a big wedge of stakeholders in the energy sector that see renewables and energy storage as a day-to-day business as well as an aspiration and social good.

Many thanks to all that downloaded the PV Tech Power Volume 20 including the Energy Storage Special Report 2019, which is also still available as a standalone PDF from the ‘Resources’ section of this site.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsPV Tech Power 21: Flow in Focus, Long-Duration Contenders And The ESA