Nuclear, Carbon Capture, and Energy Storage Advocates Happy; Co-ops Disappointed by Stimulus Package

on December 24, 2020

Although provisions in the $900 billion stimulus package agreed to by Congress on Dec. 21 that will extend the solar investment tax credit (ITC) and the wind production tax credit (PTC) received the greatest publicity, lawmakers also authorized about $35 billion for clean energy research and development (R&D) programs focused on solar technology, advanced nuclear technology, geothermal, wind, energy storage, grid modernization, and carbon capture technology, including a large-scale carbon sequestration demonstration program. However, a key provision sought by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) was not included in the package.

Support for Nuclear Power Initiatives

The bill specifically allots $1.5 billion for nuclear energy programs. Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said the funding shows the strong bipartisan support nuclear power has in the U.S. “This legislation demonstrates growing confidence in our nation’s largest source of carbon-free energy, while building on efforts to ensure nuclear energy is properly valued alongside wind and solar in the United States’ carbon-free energy future,” she said.

“By including key elements of the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act in this legislation, Congress has signaled its commitment to accelerating the deployment of next-generation nuclear reactor technologies. Funding for advanced reactor demonstrations, including small modular reactors and microreactors, will keep America competitive in this strategic sector,” Korsnick added.

Carbon Capture a Priority

The omnibus spending bill also includes a two-year extension of the 45Q tax credit. Section 45Q provides a tax credit on a per-ton basis for CO2 that is sequestered. From 2008 to 2018, an incentive of $20 per metric ton for CO2 geologic storage and $10 per metric ton for CO2 used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or enhanced natural gas recovery was available.

In February 2018, with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the tax credit was updated, increasing it to $35 per metric ton for EOR and $50 per metric ton for geologic storage by 2026. The $35 tax credit is also available for non-EOR CO2 utilization and direct air capture projects.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNuclear, Carbon Capture, and Energy Storage Advocates Happy; Co-ops Disappointed by Stimulus Package

PG&E’s Latest Energy Storage Procurement Includes Fleet of Behind-the-Meter Batteries

on December 24, 2020

Pacific Gas & Electric is asking state regulators to approve another massive round of energy storage procurements, including its first large-scale contract for behind-the-meter batteries to serve grid needs.

The six projects announced Wednesday add up to 387 megawatts and 1,548 megawatt-hours of energy storage, including two utility-scale solar-storage systems in Southern California and three standalone battery installations across the state. 

But the 27-megawatt/108-megawatt-hour behind-the-meter battery project represents a departure from PG&E’s current roster of utility-scale storage contracts. The 15-year agreement calls for Nexus Renewables Inc., a portfolio company of Ontario, Canada-based Nexus Energy, to deploy a fleet of batteries at multiple sites in PG&E service territory and provide them for grid services starting in August 2022. 

UPDATE: Nexus sources its energy storage equipment through Fluence, a prominent energy storage systems integrator, and operates its systems through its energy trading and dispatching desk, PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty said in a Wednesday email. 

Amcor, an Australian-based packaging materials manufacturer with several facilities in Northern California, will host the batteries a common industrial zone in PG&E’s service area, Doherty said. That will allow the batteries to provide backup and resiliency features for the host sites, as well as providing PG&E with resource adequacy value to bolster grid reliability. 

This foray into behind-the-meter battery aggregation comes as part of PG&E’s efforts to meet the California Public Utilities Commission’s call for energy storage and other resources to help balance the state’s increasingly solar power-influenced grid. 

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsPG&E’s Latest Energy Storage Procurement Includes Fleet of Behind-the-Meter Batteries

US Energy Storage Strategy Includes Tech Cost Estimates

on December 23, 2020

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has released a new energy storage strategy that aims to accelerate the transition of technologies from the lab to the marketplace. Its “Energy Storage Grand Challenge” plan focuses on ways to manufacture technologies at scale in the United States, while ensuring the security of supply chains to enable domestic manufacturing.

The government also hopes to develop and domestically manufacture energy storage technologies that can meet all U.S. market demands by 2030. In addition, the DoE has released two companion storage-related reports: the “2020 Grid Energy Storage Technology Cost and Performance Assessment,” and the “Energy Storage Market Report 2020.”

By offering six use cases that identify energy storage applications, benefits and functional requirements for 2030 and beyond, the storage strategy identifies cost and performance targets. These include:

  • A $0.05/kWh levelized cost of storage for long-duration stationary applications, and a 90% reduction from 2020 baseline costs by 2030. The DoE said that achieving this levelized cost target would ease commercial viability for storage across a range of uses, including meeting load during periods of peak demand, grid preparation for fast charging of electric vehicles, and applications to ensure reliability of critical services.
  • A $80/kWh manufactured cost for a battery pack by 2030 for a 300-mile range electric vehicle – a 44% reduction from the current cost of $143 per rated kWh. Achieving this target would lead to cost-competitive electric vehicles and could benefit the production, performance and safety of batteries for stationary applications, the DoE said.

Cost and performance

The 117-page technology cost and performance assessment found that the dominant grid storage technology, pumped storage hydro, has a projected cost estimate of $262/kWh for a 100 MW, 10-hour installed system. The report said the most significant cost elements are the reservoir ($76/kWh) and powerhouse ($742/kW).

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsUS Energy Storage Strategy Includes Tech Cost Estimates

What Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Did, and Didn’t, Get from Congress This Week

on December 23, 2020

Clean energy industry groups are cheering the last-minute inclusion of key tax incentive extensions and billions of dollars in research and development funds that found their way into the $2.4 trillion spending package and coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress on Monday night. (Whether the bill would be vetoed by President Donald Trump remained an open question as of Wednesday morning.) 

But solar and wind power groups and energy storage advocates didn’t get all they’ve been asking for from Congress in the bill — and they’re seeking support for those additional policies from the incoming Biden-Harris administration and lawmakers from both parties. 

What’s in the bill: Tax credits, renewables on public lands 

There’s no doubt that solar and wind power will benefit from the Investment Tax Credit extensions included in the bill. For solar, that includes a two-year extension of the ITC at its current 26 percent through 2022 and at 22 percent through 2023, as well as an extended Jan. 1, 2026 deadline for completing projects that have claimed the credit based on when they started construction under “safe-harbor” provisions. 

“That’s a pretty significant change,” Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a Tuesday webinar. “As we think about this solar decade, this gets us a lot of the way there.” 

Offshore wind also gained full 30 percent ITC credits for projects started by the end of 2025. That will bolster a nascent industry that’s seen delays in federal permitting that could have threatened the build-out of a massive new clean energy resource in the coming decade, according to Dan Shreve, Wood Mackenzie’s head of global wind research. 

These “commonsense emergency relief measures” represent “a bipartisan vote of support for the renewable industry and the hundreds of thousands of Americans building our clean energy future,” Gregory Wetstone, CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said in a statement. 

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsWhat Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Did, and Didn’t, Get from Congress This Week

Battery Pack Prices Reported Below US$100/kWh For First Time

on December 23, 2020

The cost of Lithium-ion battery pack prices has fallen close to 90%, and rates lower than US$100/kWh have been reported for the first time.

That’s according to new research from BloombergNEF, which claims average prices will be close to US$100/kWh by 2023.

BloombergNEF’s Battery Price Survey predicts that pack prices for stationary storage and electric vehicles (EVs) will fall to $101/kWh within three years. Average pack prices have sat at around $137/kWh this year, 89% lower than in 2010 and nearly a fifth of their cost seven years ago.

This, the report said, has come as a result of rising order sizes and BEV sales growth, which has led battery manufacturers to benefit from economies of scale. The cost of cathode materials has also fallen substantially since the start of 2018, providing developers with more favourable profit margins.

BloombergNEF’s prediction is broadly in line with other estimates. Guidehouse Insights claims that battery pack costs could fall to $66.6/kWh by the end of the decade.

The current price in the Bloomberg report represents a 74:26 split between the average cell and pack, according to James Frith, BloombergNEF’s head of energy storage research and a lead author of the report. The pack price itself could further dimmish “as more BEV specific platforms are introduced,” Frith added.

The research group reported lower than US$100/kWh on pack prices for e-buses in China, but Frith said that we will see the average price across the battery storage industry “pass this point” in a few years.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsBattery Pack Prices Reported Below US$100/kWh For First Time

Department of Energy Releases Energy Storage Grand Challenge Roadmap

on December 22, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the Energy Storage Grand Challenge Roadmap, the Department’s first comprehensive energy storage strategy. Announced in January 2020 by U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, the Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC) seeks to create and sustain American leadership in energy storage. In addition to concerted research efforts, the Roadmap’s approach includes accelerating the transition of technologies from the lab to the marketplace, focusing on ways to competitively manufacture technologies at scale in the United States, and ensuring secure supply chains to enable domestic manufacturing. The Roadmap includes an aggressive but achievable goal: to develop and domestically manufacture energy storage technologies that can meet all U.S. market demands by 2030.

“Energy storage has an important role to play in our Nation’s energy future,” said Secretary Brouillette. “DOE worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders and partners to develop this actionable Roadmap to help bring promising energy storage technologies to market and position the United States as a global leader in energy storage solutions.”

DOE is also releasing two companion ESGC reports: the 2020 Grid Energy Storage Technology Cost and Performance Assessment and the Energy Storage Market Report 2020. These reports provide data that informed the Roadmap and provide accessible and easily referenced information for the entire energy stakeholder community. 

The Roadmap outlines a Department-wide strategy to accelerate innovation across a range of storage technologies based on three concepts: Innovate Here, Make Here, Deploy Everywhere. Recognizing the breadth of storage technologies and the ambitious nature of the goal, DOE has identified initial cost targets focused on user-centric applications with substantial growth potential. With six use cases that identify energy storage applications, benefits, and functional requirements for 2030 and beyond, the ESGC has identified cost and performance targets, which include:

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsDepartment of Energy Releases Energy Storage Grand Challenge Roadmap

‘We Think We’ve Found the Answer’: The ‘Supercell’ that Could Bring Safe Energy Storage to New York

on December 22, 2020

New York has among the world’s tightest rules on fire safety and regular readers of this site will be aware that that has had a big impact on the ability to site lithium-ion based battery energy storage systems (BESS) within the boundaries of the state’s urban regions.

While the development of large-scale systems is taking place in less densely populated upstate areas of New York, commercial and industrial (C&I) battery storage, which has been used elsewhere around the country to help businesses manage their energy costs and the wider network to adopt greater shares of renewables, has not really been able to gain a foothold.

A couple of weeks ago the New York Power Authority (NYPA) – a public-benefit corporation which serves around 25% of the state’s electric load – began trialling an energy storage system using lithium batteries based around start-up Cadenza Innovation’s ’Supercell’ architecture. Wrapping individual cells into a protective housing, the technology is a low-cost way to prevent thermal runaway from cascading through a battery rack and causing fires.

NYPA has also this month published its strategic plan for achieving rapid decarbonisation, perhaps even five years ahead of the New York climate legislature’s already-ambitious 2040 target, with the utility citing that it will focus in continuing to develop and demonstrate long-duration and short-duration energy storage technologies.

The utility is putting its resources to work in supporting Cadenza and others such as zinc battery company Zinc8 and the new trial puts NYPA’s neck on the line, metaphorically speaking; the 240kWh ’Supercell’ system has been installed at NYPA’s own offices in White Plains.

NYPA’s R&D lead Alan Ettlinger and Cadenza Innovation CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud spoke with as the trial got underway, with Ettlinger explaining why, with the ‘Supercell’, NYPA may have found “the answer” to many of the concerns preventing battery storage from making it big in New York.

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Fractal Energy Storage Consultants‘We Think We’ve Found the Answer’: The ‘Supercell’ that Could Bring Safe Energy Storage to New York

The U.S. Is Facing Off Against China For Energy Storage Dominance

on December 22, 2020

Back in September, Chinese president Xi Jinping garnered a huge amount of attention and no small number of headlines on the global stage when he announced that Beijing’s new five-year plan to bring down the nation’s hefty carbon emissions would be far more ambitious than China had previously promised. In an address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Xi announced that China, home to the second-largest economy in the world, would see peak CO2 emissions by 2030 and bring its carbon footprint all the way down to zero by just 2060–a lofty goal to say the least.  The move spawned a flurry of think pieces about China’s motivations and the credibility of these claims. It seems pretty clear that Beijing’s main motivator for curbing emissions is not the environment, but cleaning up China’s energy act and thereby weaning the country off of fossil fuel imports will go a long way toward shoring up the nation’s energy independence and energy security, which ranks as one of the nation’s top priorities. Despite these lofty goals and even loftier rhetoric, however, China has yet to put it’s money where its mouth is when it comes to coal, which is seeing an uptick in some cash-strapped regions. And, further underlining the nation’s real bottom line when it comes to lowering carbon emissions, China has been building up coal-fired capacity overseas. In fact, China has been ramping up a whole lot of energy production capacity overseas, and especially in largely untapped markets in developing countries, to expand its energy and geopolitical influence

Just last week, President Xi appeared to double down on China’s already lofty emissions curbing targets, claiming that China will cut carbon emissions by over 65% by 2030. “China will lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP [gross domestic product] by over 65 percent from the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25 percent, increase the forest stock volume by 6 billion cubic meters from the 2005 level, and bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kilowatts,” Xi was quoted as saying by Chinese state-owned and -run news outlet Xinhua.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsThe U.S. Is Facing Off Against China For Energy Storage Dominance

Ormat Jumps on Texas Energy Storage Acquisition

on December 21, 2020

Israeli geothermal and recovered energy generation provider Ormat Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ORA; TASE: ORA) has announced that it has completed the acquisition of a shovel-ready energy storage asset in Upton County, Texas. No financial details about the acquisition were disclosed.

Ormat’s share price jumped 5.13% on Wall Street on Friday to $86.52, giving a market cap of $4.83 billion.

Ormat acquired the asset from Con Edison Development. Ormat’s wholly owned subsidiary, Viridity Energy Solutions Inc., will design, build, own and operate a 25 MW battery energy storage system (BESS) project at the site. The project is co-located with an operational 157 MW solar PV generating facility that is owned and operated by CED Upton County Solar, LLC. Ormat is targeting commercial operation of the BESS before the end of 2021.

The BESS facility will provide ancillary services and energy optimization to the wholesale markets managed by the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Ormat CEO Doron Blachar said, “This represents our second energy storage project in Texas, following the success of our Rabbit Hill BESS project which has been operating with high availability within the ERCOT market since April of this year. We are delighted to have been able to partner with Con Edison Development, a leading renewable energy developer and independent power producer, and hope to extend this collaboration further in the future. With this second project, Ormat strengthens its position as one of the early movers in the ERCOT energy storage market. Ormat is well-positioned to grow its energy storage footprint, and this acquisition reinforces our target to add between 80 MW to 175 MW revenue-generating energy storage assets by year end 2022 and is in-line with our stated strategy to build, own and operate energy storage assets in strategic high growth markets including Texas.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsOrmat Jumps on Texas Energy Storage Acquisition

US Energy Storage Installations Skyrocket 240% in Third Quarter of 2020

on December 21, 2020

Energy storage installations in the US surged by 240% in the third quarter of 2020.

That’s one of the findings of the latest report by Wood Mackenzie and the US Energy Storage Association (ESA), which suggests 476MW of storage were deployed across the US.

According to the quarterly analysis, major growth occurred in the front-of-the-meter (FTM)  market segment, which accounted for almost 400MW and 578MWh, surpassing previous records of 133 MW and 296 MWh for this sector.

FTM batteries are interconnected to distribution or transmission networks or in connection with a generation asset.

The report suggests the residential energy storage market continued its growth, hitting 52MW and 119MWh in the same period.

The US battery energy storage market is set to grow from 1.2GW in 2020 to nearly 7.5GW in 2025, the researchers said.

Kelly Speakes-Backman, Chief Executive Officer of the US Energy Storage Association said: “The signs are pointing toward an unprecedented increase in energy storage in the coming months, moving us closer toward achieving our 100GW by 2030 vision.

“With continued policy support and regulatory reform at the state and federal levels, energy storage is poised to continue this trajectory and enable a more resilient, efficient, sustainable, and affordable electric grid for all.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsUS Energy Storage Installations Skyrocket 240% in Third Quarter of 2020