EU Regulatory Barriers to Energy Storage ‘Should Be Removed’

on June 30, 2020

The European Parliament has called on the EU Commission and member states to remove regulatory barriers to boost the development of energy storage technologies.

The Industry, Research and Energy Committee proposed in a new report to abolish double taxation or shortcomings in EU network codes, which it said have hampered the development of hydrogen energy storage projects.

MEPs have also outlined the role green hydrogen and home batteries can play in stepping up renewable energy storage solutions.
The possibility of retrofitting gas infrastructure to transport hydrogen should also be looked into, they recommend.

Battery production outside Europe should be reduced, with recycled materials sourced within the continent. Mechanical and thermal storage solutions should also be developed further.

The MEPs also recommend revising the Trans-European energy networks to improve the eligibility criteria to develop energy storage facilities.

Lead MEP Claudia Gamon said: “Energy storage will be essential for the transition to a decarbonised economy based on renewable energy sources.

“As electricity generated by wind or solar energy will not always be available in the quantities needed, we will need to store energy.

“Apart from storage technologies that we already know work well like pumped hydro storage, a number of technologies will play a crucial role in the future, such as new battery technologies, thermal storage or green hydrogen.

“These must be given market access to ensure a constant energy supply for European citizen.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEU Regulatory Barriers to Energy Storage ‘Should Be Removed’

What’s Going On in The World of Thermal Energy Storage?

on June 30, 2020

Siemens Energy and EnergyNest have entered into a long-term partnership to develop thermal energy storage solutions for industrial customers. The two companies are exploring the use of excess renewable electricity to charge a thermal battery, which would in turn release steam when needed to provide power — lowering the plant’s natural gas demand, while increasing flexibility.

Life as niche tech

Thermal storage has long been considered vital to decarbonization, yet the market for the technology has remained niche and expensive. This is a reality recognized by Siemens and EnergyNest, with the two companies laying out their intent to create modularized and standardized thermal storage systems — improving both the efficiency and economics of the technology into a scalable model.

Thermal storage is currently a $4.35 billion market, small potatoes in the energy world. And while the technology is currently held back by limited efficiency and even more limited project economics, proponents of the technology hold to the idea that thermal storage can offer higher power capacity, improved cycle life and better overall system reliability, in comparison to lithium-ion batteries.

Siemens and EnergyNest aren’t the only companies operating in the thermal storage sector, so what other innovations are being made to guide this niche technology into the mainstream?

Development stage

It’s not just private companies looking to expand the scope of thermal storage. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has launched a project aimed at increasing the efficiency of thermal storage to then use the energy to drive a turbine-generator set. Specifically, NREL is looking to develop a system that uses electricity to power a high-performance heat exchanger, which will heat inexpensive solid particles to over 1100°C. The particles will be stored in insulated silos for up to several days. When electricity is desired, the hot particles will be fed through a fluidized bed heat exchanger, heating a working fluid to drive a Brayton combined-cycle turbine attached to a generator.

Speaking of Brayton Energy, the company is currently developing what it calls a “key component” to integrate turbomachinery into a cost-competitive thermal energy storage system. In English, that means that Brayton is looking to create a system in which each turbomachinery stage is designed to act as both a compressor and turbine, alternating between charging and discharging cycles. This system simplification and consolidation of parts is expected to increase efficiency and reduce capital costs.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsWhat’s Going On in The World of Thermal Energy Storage?

Mitsubishi, Japanese Telecoms co NTT Step Up Focus on Renewables, Storage, EVs and Energy Management

on June 30, 2020

Mitsubishi Corporation said today that it is partnering with major Japanese telecoms provider NTT to “study cooperation” in renewables, energy management using electric vehicles and battery energy storage, while according to reports, NTT is investing around US$1 billion a year in renewable energy up to 2030.

Newspaper Nikkei said yesterday that it had learned Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) will invest ¥1 trillion (US$9 billion) between now and 2030 in renewable energy generation and entering the electricity transmission and distribution (T&D) business.

Japan’s T&D network is dominated by 10 regional utility companies, but the sector has been gradually undergoing deregulation since 2016. NTT Group, which has more than 300,000 employees, could have the scale to “disrupt the dominance” of those electric companies and potentially help lower energy costs, the Nikkei report said.

NTT launched its own energy business, NTT Anode Energy, in mid-2019, with the parent company saying it would pursue business opportunities in “smart energy” and setting a target of increasing energy business sales by the Group as a whole to around ¥600 billion by the 2025 fiscal year. NTT said then that NTT Anode Energy would complement the existing businesses of three subsidiaries in the energy space through power generation, transmission, distribution and energy storage as well as electric retail and wholesaling.

The electric retail space in Japan has also been deregulated, leading to hundreds of participants registering to join a market that still remains in its infancy but is hope could lead to wider adoption of renewable energy. The country has a target of sourcing between 22% and 24% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. One of the incumbent electric utilities, Tokyo Electric Power, recently announced a partnership with manufacturer Itochu to integrate its solar-based electricity retail subsidiary’s offerings with batteries.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsMitsubishi, Japanese Telecoms co NTT Step Up Focus on Renewables, Storage, EVs and Energy Management

Funding For Solar Inspection By Drone, Long-Duration Energy Storage, and Software For Utilities

on June 29, 2020

This week’s clean energy investment roundup sees capital moving into long-duration energy storage and software for solar, wind and utilities.

An alternative to traditional pumped hydro

Quidnet Energy, a startup developing a long-duration energy storage technology, closed on a $10 million series B financing round. The firm also landed a contract with NYSERDA for a 2 MW/20 MWh demo project of its geomechanical pumped storage technology.

That’s ten hours of storage versus the four hours typical of the predominant lithium-ion battery technology. Quidnet aims to deploy a cost-effective alternative to traditional pumped hydro using “excess” renewable energy to store pressurized-water under ground at dry oil and gas wells.

“Quidnet’s GPS technology is a novel form of hydroelectric energy storage. It uses time-tested well-drilling and construction technologies to pump water under pressure into subsurface geological reservoirs to store energy. When variable renewable energy is not available, this water is released to drive hydroelectric turbines to power the electric grid,” said Quidnet CEO Joe Zhou.

Existing investors Breakthrough Energy Ventures (founded by Bill Gates in 2015) and Evok Innovations participated in the round, along with new investors Trafigura and The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust.

The CEO adds, “The 2-MW project will be funded by NYSERDA with $2.5 million — we’ll contribute the other half.” The startup suggests that “even at this modular scale, per-kilowatt installed costs are expected to be less than 50% of traditional pumped storage due to simpler civil construction scope.”

“Integrating renewables and replacing retiring thermal generation require cost-effective long- duration electricity storage at an immense scale,” said the CEO.

An alternative to lithium-ion batteries

Eos Energy Storage is a private zinc battery developer with the chance to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. The proposed merger would provide Eos with $225 million of new equity financing, including up to $50 million of proceeds from a backstopped PIPE by B. Riley Financial. The proposed transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2020, subject to a long list of terms and approvals.

Eos claims its zinc technology, twelve years in development, is a safe, scalable, and recyclable alternative to lithium ion.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFunding For Solar Inspection By Drone, Long-Duration Energy Storage, and Software For Utilities

Think Zinc: Another Metal That Can Transform The Energy Storage Sector

on June 29, 2020

Mines worldwide extract more than 11.9 million metric tons of zinc annually. There are zinc mines in over 50 countries around the world, and while the metal plays a key role in the steel industry, few people understand its transformative role in the energy storage sector. When most people think of the metals that power today’s energy storage systems, vanadium and lithium are at front of mind.

However, one of the challenges to growing an energy storage industry is the dependency on a supply chain of hardware components, metals and chemicals many of which come from outside of North America. Metals such as lithium, vanadium, rare earths and cobalt used today in many energy storage batteries, are impacted by price volatility, security of supply and duration restrictions. On the other hand, those same risks do not apply to zinc energy flow batteries.

Best known for its industrial use in galvanising steel, Zinc is abundant and inexpensive, and without any geopolitical complications as we have a significant North American supply. Zinc utilizes the only battery chemistry that uses earth-abundant, recyclable materials with chemistry that is robust and safe. Unlike lithium-ion technology, which requires new stacks in order to scale, zinc batteries are able to decouple the linkage between energy and power. This means that scaling the zinc battery technology can be accomplished by simply increasing the size of the energy storage tank and quantity of the recharged zinc particles.

Zinc-air batteries use oxygen from the atmosphere to extract power from zinc, making zinc-air battery production costs the lowest of all rechargeable batteries. Zinc-air batteries are non-flammable and non-toxic with a longer lifetime as compared to other batteries.

The zinc-air cell doesn’t require expensive and hard-to-find materials and can be manufactured locally which contributes to our North American economy. When combined with PV panels, zinc-air storage delivers a renewable, reliable, and affordable source of power.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsThink Zinc: Another Metal That Can Transform The Energy Storage Sector

Actions by US Utilities Trigger Global Rush For Energy Storage Leadership

on June 29, 2020

Rethink Energy Research has released a new report exploring the pace at which global energy markets are deploying energy storage projects and the factors driving them to do so.

According to the report, USA Flying start triggers rush for Energy Storage Leadership, actions by utilities in the US to expand their energy storage capacity more than any other utilities in the early 2020s is triggering a global rush to leadership.

Global utilities, led by those in the US, have in the past weeks commissioned projects that will enable the energy storage market to double in 2020 and 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The capacity commissioned will allow the storage market to have a ten-year annual growth rate in excess of 44.8%.

By 2029, the global battery storage capacity is expected to hit 1,462GWh up from 6.9GW today.

The US is expected to lead through 2024 by installing 27.7GW of new capacity. However, China its expected to take the leadership role by 2029.

The rest of the Asia Pacific, led by South Korea, India and Japan, as well as Europe, led by Germany and the UK, but also augmented by Italy, Spain and even the Netherlands and Belgium, will end this forecast period neck and neck with the USA, all chasing second place behind China. Latin America, Middle East and Africa will be far smaller markets.

By 2030 the situation will look like this:
China 107 GW
USA 77.6 GW
Europe 77.3 GW
Asia Pacific 76.5 GW

The activity in and around the 4-hour battery power storage using lithium-ion market is accelerating in the US so fast that by 2024, it will have overhauled the 100-year-old lead that pumped storage has in the storage market and installed more GW.

By 2030 it will have installed close to 4 times the amount that pumped storage ever reached at 77.6 GW of capacity, able to output solidly for 4 hours, in total some 310.4 GWh of battery cells.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsActions by US Utilities Trigger Global Rush For Energy Storage Leadership

Siemens Energy To Develop Thermal Energy Storage With Startup EnergyNest

on June 29, 2020

Siemens Energy has formed a partnership aimed at sustainably decarbonising the industrial sector with Norway-headquartered thermal energy storage company EnergyNest.

EnergyNest makes what it calls Thermal Batteries, where a specially formulated concrete (which the company has trademarked Heatcrete) is heated using high temperature heat transfer fluid (HTF) that passes through steel pipes inside the units. The company claims the energy can be stored with minimal heat loss, then as the battery discharges, cold HTF flows into the bottom of the battery unit and the heat comes out of the top.

The Thermal Batteries are intended to be modular and are housed in 20ft units, with modules designed to be transported easily and much of the pipework prefabricated and tested before being sent to project sites. The materials used are abundant, can be recycled and are non-hazardous while the startup claims systems can be cost-effective as well as compact, with high energy density and with little heat lost, scalable from MWh to GWh capacities.

With Siemens already having worked with EnergyNest including a 1MWh project begun in 2015 to verify the technology at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, Siemens Energy – the spun-out business division of Siemens formerly known as Siemens Gas and Power – has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EnergyNest.

Targeting the development of their first commercial systems together within a year, the pair have formed a “long-term partnership to develop thermal energy storage solutions for industrial customers,” EnergyNest said in a press release sent to

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsSiemens Energy To Develop Thermal Energy Storage With Startup EnergyNest

Proposed Merger Will Make Zinc Battery Developer Eos Energy a Public Company

on June 26, 2020

Eos Energy Storage is a private zinc battery developer with the chance to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

B. Riley Principal Merger Corp II (BMRG), a special purpose acquisition company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and Eos have executed a letter of intent for a merger which would result in Eos becoming a publicly listed company.

Investors seem fascinated by energy storage this year, the long-duration variety in particular — and Eos Energy Storage with its four- to six-hour duration, potentially joins the long duration technologies of Form Energy and Quidnet as recipients of big capital. QuantumScape, a solid-state lithium ion battery builder, received up to $200 million from Volkswagen earlier this month.

Eos claims its zinc technology, twelve years in development, is a safe, scalable, and recyclable alternative to lithium ion.

An alternative to lithium ion

Eos has spent over $160 million from investors including AltEnergy, Holtec International, Reservoir Capital Group, and Generation Capital to develop its four- to six-hour zinc battery alternative to lithium-ion chemistry.

U.S. Q1 2020 energy storage deployments reached 98 MW in Q1 of 2020, according to WoodMac, and roughly 500 MW in 2019 — of which only a few megawatts were non-lithium-ion chemistries. Lithium-ion batteries have their disadvantages — high reactivity, conflict minerals and environmental risk — but they are the clear-cut dominant winner in today’s battery race.

Eos has long touted a $160 per kilowatt-hour price target and a goal of over 10,000 cycles with its zinc hybrid cathode design. Eos has worked with Siemens and Engie. In 2016, First Solar CEO, Jim Hughes, was the chairman of the board.

Fluidic Energy, also working on a zinc-air battery, was acquired by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, and is now NantEnergy.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsProposed Merger Will Make Zinc Battery Developer Eos Energy a Public Company

Answer to Energy Storage Problem Could Be Hydrogen

on June 26, 2020

Hydrogen has the greatest potential among technologies for seasonal energy storage in the future, according to an analysis conducted by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Seasonal energy storage can facilitate the deployment of high and ultra-high shares of wind and solar energy sources, according to Omar Guerra, a research engineer at NREL and lead author of a new paper, “The value of seasonal energy storage technologies for the integration of wind and solar power.” The article appears in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

Guerra’s co-authors, all from NREL, are Jiazi Zhang, Joshua Eichman, Paul Denholm, Jennifer Kurtz, and Bri-Mathias Hodge. They developed a multi-model approach that considers both the estimated cost and value of storage technologies in determining cost-competitiveness. They analyzed 80 scenarios involving hydrogen, pumped hydro, and compressed air in making their determination.

“This is perhaps the most comprehensive techno-economic assessment of seasonal storage performed to date,” Guerra said. “Based on the estimated value provided to the grid, we have identified the specific conditions, such as power- and energy-related costs, round-trip efficiency, and discharge duration, under which a given storage technology is cost competitive.”

Their analysis assumed 84% of the U.S. Western electricity grid is generated by renewable sources.

The study included the cost of seasonal storage based on the power capacity and energy capacity. While that is common in energy storage analysis, the researchers included potential revenues of capacity value, which is the cost to build new peaking plants to supply electrical demand; and, uniquely, accounted for avoided grid operating costs. Previous studies into energy storage do not consider the potential benefits to the grid. Using that information, a benefit-to-cost ratio analysis was conducted to determine the profitability of the storage technologies.

The analysis focused on two time frames for the economic assessment: the near future, from 2025-2045; and the future, 2050-2070.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsAnswer to Energy Storage Problem Could Be Hydrogen

How University Microgrids Give Campuses Intelligent Control of Energy Assets and Use

on June 26, 2020

A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. voters by the Civil Society Institute found that most had never heard of the term microgrid, or they had heard of it but had the wrong impression. But when microgrids were explained to them, they showed a strong predisposition to the concept.

“Once people understand microgrids, they see the importance of them in their community,” said Andrea Camp, senior project manager at the institute, a nonprofit public policy think tank.

Although microgrids have existed since the electric grid emerged over a century ago, the technology started regaining traction following Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Today, microgrids are viewed as a key component of the emerging smart grid, as well as the “smart campus” vision as defined by Siemens in their new Campus of the Future report. Navigant Research, a Guidehouse company, forecasts 10-fold growth for the microgrid industry from 2019-2028.

So, what is a microgrid, and why is this technology becoming an important part of the U.S. energy landscape?

A microgrid is a self-sufficient energy system that runs 24/7/365 and serves a discrete footprint, such as a college campus, hospital complex, business center or neighborhood. In a sense, a microgrid is the electric grid in a compact form because it generally contains the same basic elements: generators to produce energy, a means to distribute the energy, a means to control the energy supply and demand, and customers who use the power. Contemporary microgrids also often include energy storage systems, typically batteries, to help balance and optimize supply and load while providing backup supply capacity. And, microgrids have begun to incorporate electric vehicle charging stations, thus connecting the distributed electricity supply grid to a cleaner transportation fleet.

Intelligent control of your energy assets and use
But a microgrid is more than a mere grouping of energy assets. What sets a microgrid apart is its microgrid controller, the brain of the operation. This is a relatively inexpensive software-driven system that gives the microgrid the ability to undertake various beneficial functions, among them islanding from the central grid. If a power outage occurs on the grid, the controller signals the microgrid to separate from the grid to avoid the disruption. Its generation and storage systems ramp up as needed to become sole providers of power to the buildings the microgrid serves. Islanding can be designed to occur so seamlessly that those within the building are unaware that they are no longer on grid power but are being served by the microgrid controller and associated local generation assets.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsHow University Microgrids Give Campuses Intelligent Control of Energy Assets and Use