Engineers Say Technology Roadmap Should Focus on Cheap Renewables, Energy Storage

on June 22, 2020

A submission from the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering to the federal government’s proposed technology roadmap has called for “deep and ongoing” investment in renewable energy generation in response to the Coalition’s apparent skew towards gas, carbon capture and storage, and coal.

The submission follows last month’s publication of a discussion paper by federal energy minister Angus Taylor, which cites 140 different technologies ranging across the electricity sector, to buildings, transport, manufacturing and agriculture.

The proposed roadmap, while careful not to “pick winners,” raised serious concerns that the Morrison government was seeking to delay, nobble or handicap wind, solar and storage, while propping up gas, refusing to rule out coal, and even canvassing small modular nuclear reactors.

A submission from the ATSE, however, says Australia can become a world leader in renewable energy, and recommends half-a-dozen crucial actions to achieve this, including by scaling up infrastructure to support greater use of solar and wind power, a rapid transition to electric heating and transport, and developing a hydrogen energy economy.

“Renewable energy is getting cheaper, and the technology exists today to scale up production and introduce mechanisms to ensure the reliability of supply, move towards meeting domestic and industrial energy needs, and transition to electric and hydrogen fuelled transport systems,” the chair of the ATSE’s Energy Forum, Dr John Söderbaum, said in the submission.

“The key next step is to continue to develop and adopt storage solutions that increase our ability to rely on renewable energy and allow generation using older, emissions-heavy fossil fuel technologies to retire.

“We recommend deep and ongoing government and private sector investment to support further research and development, production, storage and network integration of all low-cost and low-emissions energy sources, including hydrogen.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEngineers Say Technology Roadmap Should Focus on Cheap Renewables, Energy Storage

Root Causes For NEC’s Industry Exit ‘Likely Lie Deeper’ Than COVID-19

on June 22, 2020

Industry commentators have expressed shock and surprise that NEC Corporation’s Energy Solutions business has been wound down, while an analyst said the reasons for the energy storage system integrator’s demise are likely to go back further than the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent report carried by Bloomberg said that the Japanese electronics and engineering giant was closing down the Massachusetts-based Energy Solutions division. The report claimed that despite a global reach and a leading position in the early grid-scale battery storage market, the division had never been profitable.

The report’s headline implied that NEC representatives interview by Bloomberg had cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason behind the decision, but within the report itself was the assertion that the coronavirus situation had brought to a premature end the parent company’s search for a buyer for the battery storage system integrator, which NEC had owned since 2014. was unable to receive confirmation or clarification from NEC directly, with the company declining to comment. It is understood that while the company will remain committed to battery servicing contracts, some of which run to 2030, since the Bloomberg report just over a week ago, leading members of the Energy Solutions team including CEO Steve Fludder, have already left, according to sources close to the company.

Several energy storage industry sources, who asked not to be named, in addition to expressing shock at the news, expressed sympathy with the exiting employees, with one noting that NEC ES’ had “really great people” working there.

Meanwhile, California-headquartered “intelligent energy storage system” provider Stem Inc, which had only recently started a partnership with NEC ES with a view to delivering solar-plus-storage projects from “coast-to-coast” across the US, also declined to comment on NEC’s reported exit from the business when asked by

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsRoot Causes For NEC’s Industry Exit ‘Likely Lie Deeper’ Than COVID-19

Microgrids Are One Tool in The Energy Toolbox To Combat The Threat of Natural Disasters

on June 18, 2020

The stats don’t lie; natural disasters are on the rise and their severity is increasing. In 2019, the United States experienced 14 natural disasters, each causing damages of over $1 billion. These disasters included severe weather events, hailstorms, wildfires, flooding, tornadoes, tropical storms, hurricanes and earthquakes, all of which can threaten the reliability and stability of the electric power system.

Globally, the World Health Organisation reports that 90,000 people are killed, and close to 160 million people worldwide affected annually by tsunamis, landslides, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, heat waves and droughts.

Around the world, certain types of disasters are anticipated to increase in frequency and scale. These include:

  • Wildfires: California and other US states on the West Coast and in the Mountain West are dealing with heightened and extreme droughts, dryness and wildfires.
  • Hurricanes: North Carolina and other US states in the Southeast are experiencing more frequent tropical storms and hurricanes.
  • Other: Countries in Asia and Africa are also suffering from extreme weather such as severe typhoons, cyclones or heat waves. Recent heat waves occurring in India and across countries in Asia are also causing a heightened awareness of the types of threats that can negatively impact the energy system.

The need for resilience

As a result of the increased severity of natural disasters, some utilities and government entities are turning to microgrids to power critical systems and facilitate the integration of distributed energy resources (DERs). Microgrids are one tool in the energy toolbox among many which can be harnessed to increase grid resilience against natural disasters.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsMicrogrids Are One Tool in The Energy Toolbox To Combat The Threat of Natural Disasters

Carlton Power and Highview To Build 250MWh Liquid Air Energy Storage Plant

on June 18, 2020

Carlton Power and Highview Power are partnering to build a massive cryogenic liquid-air energy (LAES) plant in Manchester.

Carlton has been trying to build a combined cycle gas turbine power station at Trafford for years. It now hopes to finally build that CCGT alongside the 250MWh LAES storage plant, creating a new kind of hybrid.

The two firms have formed a joint venture and intend to build four ‘CryoBatteries’ totalling 1GWh.

The Trafford plant, which has £10m grant funding from Beis, is expected to be delivering power within two years.

Cool running

Highview commissioned its first large scale plant last year, a 5MW/15MWh plant in Bury, greater Manchester.

Then CEO, Gareth Brett, told The Energyst that it intended to build a 50MW plant and bid it into the Capacity Market – and that building large plants was actually much easier than the 5MW Bury development because parts are easier to come by.

“At 50MW scale, the refrigeration plant and turbo expander are at a size that suits all of the big machinery manufacturers,” said Brett.

He added that LAES technology, while not as quick as lithium-ion batteries, “can do anything pumped storage can do.”

Later that year, Javier Cavada joined the firm as CEO and president to scale and commercialise Highview’s technology.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCarlton Power and Highview To Build 250MWh Liquid Air Energy Storage Plant

Energy Storage Using Oxygen To Boost Battery Performance

on June 18, 2020

Researchers have presented a novel electrode material for advanced energy storage device that is directly charged with oxygen from the air. Professor Jeung Ku Kang’s team synthesized and preserved the sub-nanometric particles of atomic cluster sizes at high mass loadings within metal-organic frameworks (MOF) by controlling the behavior of reactants at the molecular level. This new strategy ensures high performance for lithium-oxygen batteries, acclaimed as a next-generation energy storage technology and widely used in electric vehicles.

Lithium-oxygen batteries in principle can generate ten times higher energy densities than conventional lithium-ion batteries, but they suffer from very poor cyclability. One of the methods to improve cycle stability is to reduce the overpotential of electrocatalysts in cathode electrodes. When the size of an electrocatalyst material is reduced to the atomic level, the increased surface energy leads to increased activity while significantly accelerating the material’s agglomeration.

As a solution to this challenge, Professor Kang from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering aimed to maintain the improved activity by stabilizing atomic-scale sized electrocatalysts into the sub-nanometric spaces. This is a novel strategy for simultaneously producing and stabilizing atomic-level electrocatalysts within metal-organic frameworks (MOFs).

Metal-organic frameworks continuously assemble metal ions and organic linkers.

The team controlled hydrogen affinities between water molecules to separate them and transfer the isolated water molecules one by one through the sub-nanometric pores of MOFs. The transferred water molecules reacted with cobalt ions to form di-nuclear cobalt hydroxide under precisely controlled synthetic conditions, then the atomic-level cobalt hydroxide is stabilized inside the sub-nanometric pores.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEnergy Storage Using Oxygen To Boost Battery Performance

Battery Performance Standard For Residential and Commercial Applications

on June 17, 2020

For many of us, the last two months have felt like two years. But some of us – like those at DNV GL – have been launching the Australian Battery Performance Standard (ABPS) project during that time.

The lack of standardized performance data in what is one of the world’s leading markets for energy storage spurred both the DNV GL ABPS project, and the ITP Renewables Battery Trial, funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

According to the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the country has the highest uptake of solar globally, with 2.37 million of 21% of all homes boasting rooftop solar. And, of course, rooftop PV without energy storage is like art without memory. However, energy storage uptake is not yet a given like solar, and part of the reason for this is customer confusion about choosing the right battery system.

In June 2018, the ABPS project started toward the development of a draft standard addressing which energy storage system is best suited to residential and small-scale commercial applications. Under the banner of DNV GL, and with the support of AU$1.44 million (US$989,930) in ARENA funding through its Advancing Renewables Program, and the Victorian Government through its New Energy Jobs Fund, the project is comprised of various groups, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Deakin University, and the Smart Energy Council.

“Energy storage is shaping up to be an important feature of our rapidly evolving energy system,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller. “As rooftop solar penetration continues to increase, and more people look to store their solar energy during the day and minimize what they consume from the grid in the evening, it is important that consumers are informed about how well batteries perform over their lifetime to aid their investment decision.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsBattery Performance Standard For Residential and Commercial Applications

COVID-19 Pushes Energy Storage Leader Out of Market As Competition Intensifies

on June 17, 2020

Despite NEC Energy Solutions’ decision to discontinue operations, it remains one of the top three global storage system providers along with Fluence Energy and Tesla, according to Sekine.

The company, which serves the utility-scale, commercial and industrial markets, remains committed to finishing projects already under development, according to a letter to customers cited in the Bloomberg News report. The U.S. subsidiary of Japanese parent NEC Corp. has ongoing maintenance projects through March 2030, Bloomberg reported.

The energy storage market has become increasingly competitive, according to a May 27 report by Guidehouse Insights. ENGIE, Enel X, Tesla, Honeywell, Con Edison Battery Storage, EDF, and NantEnergy are the top commercial and industrial energy storage integrators, according to the report.

The top competitors in the field are those capable of providing innovative financing, integrated software platforms and the ability to forecast future revenue streams, Rodriguez said. While third-ranked Tesla gained ground by developing internal capabilities, including machine learning capabilities that enable customers to optimize energy storage and use, according to Rodriguez, industry leader ENGIE found its success through a mergers and acquisitions strategy.

“The top firms today are distinguished based on the size of their portfolio — which includes how many projects they have been involved in, the MWh that are currently operating as well as how long they have been in the market,” Sekine said.

“They have been able to provide well-engineered systems, with product guarantees and safety certifications that other smaller players may struggle to back. In order to continue to be distinguished, they need to be able to compete on cost as well as value,” Sekine added.

NEC Energy Solutions did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCOVID-19 Pushes Energy Storage Leader Out of Market As Competition Intensifies

Fluence Unveils Sixth-Generation of Large-Scale Energy Storage Stack

on June 17, 2020

Fluence, a Siemens and AES company, today unveiled its sixth-generation energy storage technology stack combining factory-built hardware, advanced software and data-driven intelligence.

The technology stack creates the foundation for three purpose-built systems, Gridstack, Sunstack and Edgestack, that are configured for grid, renewable and commercial & industrial (C&I) applications, respectively, while easily addressing the need for larger systems and larger fleets of systems. Fluence has already been selected by customers such as Enel, LS Power and Siemens for 800 MW/2,300 MWh of projects using the new technology.

“Energy storage applications require highly flexible systems that can be tailored to specific markets and customer needs,” said Fluence CTO Brett Galura. “Until now, customers were forced to choose between custom-built solutions or inflexible, vertically integrated products. This sixth-generation technology combines our proprietary dataset – among the industry’s largest – and our deep industry experience to deliver unparalleled intelligence and flexibility, while adding the benefits of mass production to standardize safety features and significantly reduce the time and cost needed to deploy energy storage. Over the past decade, Fluence has reduced the total cost of energy storage systems by 90%; our new technology stack focuses on driving down the non-battery costs of energy storage systems by up to 25%, while empowering gigawatt-sized deployments.”

Fluence’s new technology stack includes three components:

  • Fluence IQ: Digital intelligence engines use data and machine learning to improve system decision-making, manage battery degradation, reduce operating costs and optimize energy market dispatch.
  • Fluence Operating System (OS): Built on a decade of digital control system development, the fully integrated operating platform combines comprehensive controls, system visibility and asset management to improve asset performance at a single site or across entire fleets.
  • Fluence Cube: The modular, factory-assembled building block incorporates the latest technologies for rapid installation and scale, consistent operations and maintenance and improved quality control.
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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFluence Unveils Sixth-Generation of Large-Scale Energy Storage Stack

UN: Plugging Renewable Ambition Gap is ‘One of Smartest’ Ways Out of Pandemic

on June 15, 2020

Countries have in low-cost solar and wind a chance to revive economies battered by COVID-19 but also rekindle the fight against climate change, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), BloombergNEF (BNEF) and the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

The trio recently analysed commitments by state and private players and concluded that current pledges would deliver 826GW of new green energy by 2030, far below the 3,000GW the world would need by that year to avert catastrophic global heating.

According to the new review, the present 826GW pipeline – split (see table below) between government (721GW) and private sector targets (105GW) – would also fall short of the deployment that was achieved last decade, when 1.2GW of solar, wind and others was installed worldwide.

In a statement alongside the report, German Environment minister Svenja Schulze noted that 80% of power new-builds worldwide were renewable last year. Investors and markets, she said, no longer need convincing about the “reliability and competitiveness” of green energy.

According to the study, it is up to governments to act on the private appetite, and make renewables a core part of the COVID-19 recovery. Missing this chance now may make it even harder to find money later, as the pandemic tightens its hold of public and private budgets alike.

Should states move to ramp up renewable funding, they would find every dollar spent yields more, thanks to years of tumbling technology costs. As the study pointed out, the world only invested 1% more in green energy in 2019 but delivered 12% (or 20GW) higher installs year-on-year.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsUN: Plugging Renewable Ambition Gap is ‘One of Smartest’ Ways Out of Pandemic

Stem Inc Wins Contracts to Manage 345MWh of Energy Storage in California Utility SCE’s Service Area

on June 15, 2020

Commercial energy storage solutions provider Stem Inc has won out in a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) to manage a 345MWh fleet of commercial and municipal energy storage systems in Los Angeles, California.

The company said last week that it has been contracted to operate 87 systems using its Athena advanced artificial intelligence software platform, including 25 at newly acquired customer sites, by SK E&S and SUSI Partners. SK E&S is a South Korea-headquartered power provider which has mostly focused on generating electricity from liquid natural gas (LNG) plants. Meanwhile Switzerland-headquartered sustainable infrastructure investment manager SUSI Partners is likely a familiar name to readers of this site for its energy storage activities in key markets including Ontario, Canada. In April 2019, reported that SUSI Partners had acquired a 50% stake in a 340MWh portfolio of California commercial and municipal energy storage projects developed by Advanced Microgrid Solutions from owner Macquarie. This site has made enquiries as to whether this deal, which at the time was cited as 60MW/340MWh across 90 projects, refers to the same portfolio Stem will now be managing.

SK E&S is latterly rolling out a clean energy business, including solar power and fuel cell technology. SK E&S CEO Daejeon Choi said that Stem Inc had been evaluated alongside other companies in a “highly competitive RFP process” and “stood out”.

“We were extremely impressed with the company’s technical and operational capabilities as well as the superiority of its software and services solution,” SK E&S CEO Daejeon Choi said.

The multinational pair are partners in owning the 345MWh energy storage portfolio in LA, which all sits in the service area of investor-owned utility (IOU) Southern California Edison (SCE). SCE is one of three major IOUs in California and was therefore bound by mandate AB2514 to procure a large amount of energy storage by the start of this decade, which in many ways kickstarted the ongoing mainstreaming of energy storage.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsStem Inc Wins Contracts to Manage 345MWh of Energy Storage in California Utility SCE’s Service Area