‘World’s Only’ Home Vanadium Battery Storage Provider Voltstorage Nets €6 Million Funding

on August 3, 2020

Germany company Voltstorage, claiming to be the only developer and maker of home solar energy storage systems using vanadium flow batteries, raised €6 million (US$7.1 million) in July.

Voltstorage claims that its recyclable and non-flammable battery systems, which also enable long cycle life of charging and discharging without degradation of components or electrolyte, can become a “highly demanded ecological alternative to the lithium technology”. Its battery system, called Voltstorage SMART, was launched in 2018 and comes with 1.5kW output and 6.2kWh capacity. At the time of its launch, company founder Jakob Bitner claimed that Voltstorage had been “the first to automate the production process of redox-flow battery cells,” enabling the production of “high-quality battery cells at favourable cost”. The company also claims that around 37% less CO2 is emitted in the production of its systems versus comparable lithium-ion storage.

There has been great interest and discussion around redox flow batteries using vanadium electrolyte around the world at grid and larger commercial scale, although actual deployment figures have not yet begun to eat into the dominant existing market share held by lithium-ion. For domestic use, meanwhile, only Australia’s Redflow, which uses a zinc bromine electrolyte chemistry rather than vanadium, is widely reported to be targeting the home storage market – along with commercial and industrial applications as well. However, Redflow discontinued a 10kWh product specifically targeted at the residential space in May 2017 and the majority of its focus is on those other segments, although it makes its modular ZBM-branded systems available to larger residential users. Industry analyst Julian Jansen at IHS Markit had told Energy-Storage.news at the time of that discontinuation that it seemed “highly unlikely that flow batteries will succeed as a viable competing option to Lithium-ion based systems in the residential market outside of very specific niche applications”.

Existing investors in Munich-headquartered startup Voltstorage put in money once again, including family-owned investment company Korys, Bayer Capital – a subsidiary of Bavaria’s development bank – and EIT InnoEnergy, a European accelerator investor in sustainable energy and related innovation.

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Fractal Energy Storage Consultants‘World’s Only’ Home Vanadium Battery Storage Provider Voltstorage Nets €6 Million Funding

Court Ruling Clears Way For Energy Storage On The Grid. Who Benefits?

on August 3, 2020

The way has been cleared for energy storage projects by a federal appeals court. The July decision is a big win for independent, merchant battery companies and renewable energy proponents.

Advanced battery technologies and decreasing battery costs have encouraged the development of utility-scale (really big) electricity storage stations on the grid. Tesla -3.8%TSLA and AES Energy Storage have led the way with two such batteries. These address the greatest handicap wind and solar energy have in their push to eliminate fossil fuels from the generation market: intermittency. Batteries will also solve a second limitation of wind and solar energy, that peak renewable energy production is not always coincident with peak demand. Electricity demand varies over a day and over a season. It is this peak-and-trough wave that energy planners want to address with electricity storage facilities.

Today, most markets require electricity generation fleets sized to meet demand on the hottest day in August or coldest day in winter. Using the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, market as an example, peak demand is forecast to reach 75,000 megawatt hours (mWh) in August 2020. ERCOT is charged with making sure that there are sufficient supplies. However, the average electricity demand in ERCOT throughout the year is approximately 45,000 mWh. Battery storage would help reduce the need for a portion of the generation fleet and hasten the retirement of older high-cost generators.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCourt Ruling Clears Way For Energy Storage On The Grid. Who Benefits?

Group Aims For Affordable Energy Storage, Energy Democracy

on July 31, 2020

A local nonprofit, the Center for the Creation of Cooperation (CCC) is working toward the transition to clean energy through creating affordable energy storage.

CCC’s most recent project, the RePower Second Life Battery Program, enables communities to recover and reuse lithium ion batteries. For the past two years, the RePower team has been collecting spent batteries and using them to create safe testing procedures and prototype needed storage products.

Wilkens said the program was partly inspired by his experience working in renewable energy for roughly a decade, as he was able to “keep and eye on the changing scene” and see that affordable energy storage was the “next big step.” He said being able to store power is critical, as many battery cells are being discarded when they still have potential to be useful.

The RePower team works with battery packs from discarded materials, such as medical devices or computers, safely breaking apart the packs to capacity-test individual lithium ion cells. Wilkens said that it only takes one cell dying in a battery pack to make the pack no longer operational, but the other cells still have life and can be salvaged.

This isn’t necessarily something one should try at home, however. The process itself can be dangerous, but the RePower team has engineer Morgan Hager as a core member to help. Hager, program engineer for CCC, has experience working in the solar power industry, and knows there is a growing need for people to have backup energy storage in their homes.

Hager noted the program is a little different from a traditional business model where people create a product and then market that product to an audience. Rather, Hager, Wilkens and Matt Baker more so see a need and want to create pathways to fulfill that need. There are millions of lithium ion batteries being discarded despite having plenty of good power cells inside them, she said.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsGroup Aims For Affordable Energy Storage, Energy Democracy

Overcoming Inequity With Energy Storage

on July 31, 2020

As the conversations for racial equity have intensified worldwide, so have conversations surrounding environmental justice. No matter the topic, work needs to be done across all fields of environmental studies. In the energy space, advocates for environmental justice have identified several issues where underrepresented groups have historically been excluded from critical conversations. These issues include equitable access to clean energy and the disproportionate negative effects of climate change on vulnerable communities.

The Problem with Peaker Plants

One example that demonstrates these problems is the use of fossil fuel peaker plants. Peaker plants are power plants that are used during times when energy demand is high. These plants usually run on natural gas and can be used for a few or several hours at a time, depending on the state of the grid. Excessive pollution from peaker plants results from fast ramp times and single-cycle operation. As of 2020, the US has over 1,000 peaker plants in operation. These plants are located disproportionately near low income communities, which can lead to long-term health problems when those residents are exposed to the plants’ harmful pollutants.

In addition to public health problems, peaker plants can result in costly fees for electricity customers, especially in large cities. According to a report from the PEAK Coalition, an estimated $4.5 billion in capacity payments have been paid by New York City residents to the public and private peaker plant owners from 2010-2020. Many of these New York plants operate less than 1% of the year. Addressing peak energy demand is a pressing challenge, and special care should be taken when already vulnerable communities face excessive negative impacts.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsOvercoming Inequity With Energy Storage

What To Know About Tesla And PG&E’s ‘Landmark’ Battery Energy Storage System

on July 31, 2020

When it comes to Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA), most people’s first thought is cars or self-driving technology. But the company is working on many other things, including solar energy production, and battery technology. These batteries are used in the company’s cars, but they’re also put to use for home and grid energy storage.

What Happened: PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG) and Tesla announced on Wednesday they have begun work on a world record 182.5MW, 730MWh battery storage facility. For reference, the average U.S. home uses 10.9MWh per year.

The system will be designed, constructed, and maintained by PG&E and Tesla, and will be owned and operated by PG&E. The controversy-plagued PG&E is planning to have the system fully operational by the end of 2021.

Why It’s Important: The system includes 256 Tesla Megapack battery units. The system can run at maximum capacity for up to four hours, and PG&E’s agreement with Tesla allows a system size upgrade that would increase the capacity of the system up to six continuous hours or 1.1-Gigawatt hour.

Over 10,000 PG&E customers currently have installed battery energy storage systems.

Benzinga’s Take: A large part of Tesla’s valuation will eventually come from energy. It’s often said Tesla is a battery manufacturer using cars to sell the company’s battery tech.

Energy is one of the biggest industries, and if Tesla wants to use electricity generated by sun and wind, it will need a way to store that energy, as the sun isn’t always shining, and the wind isn’t always blowing.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsWhat To Know About Tesla And PG&E’s ‘Landmark’ Battery Energy Storage System

Linking Solar With Energy Storage and EV Technologies

on July 30, 2020

Shifting tides of investment

Solar power has become a given element of the world’s energy systems. However, investment trends are constantly changing thanks to evolving technologies, lower costs, and new remuneration policy mechanisms supporting energy development. Such a dominant trend is exemplified by the phase out of old, stable remuneration schemes, which are being replaced by more dynamic mechanisms that not only value the output of electricity generation but also the management and operation of the energy technology.

Britain and Germany, for example, are two of the top four solar PV and EV markets in Europe. The United Kingdom ended all residential solar PV subsidies on March 31, 2019, replacing the old feed-in tariff (FiT) policy with the so-called smart export guarantee (SEG) scheme. Launched January 2020, the new market-led scheme requires that all electricity suppliers with at least 150,000 retail electricity customers to offer at least one SEG tariff to new residential PV systems. The government does not prescribe the tariff rate, type, or duration, but the purchase tariff must offer a rate per kWh of export above zero at all times, thus providing income for households’ surplus solar – differing from the past FiT system where generators were paid for all electricity they generated. The United Kingdom has approximately 3 GW of rooftop PV capacity installed for projects under 10 kW in size.

In Germany, 581 MW of solar capacity of projects up to 10 kW were added in 2019, while German market research institute EuPD Research recently surveyed more than 1,000 homeowners and found that 20% of them are actively making decisions to invest in solar PV. Survey participants said that they were motivated to invest in PV to reduce their electricity costs while contributing to the protection of the environment, but also to benefit from the state-guaranteed FiT.

Germany recently had a cap of 52 GW on the subsidy, which EuPD Research suggested would be reached by July 2020. Once the cap was hit, no new PV systems under 750 kW would be eligible for the subsidy. In May 2020, Germany’s government abolished the photovoltaic cap and the country’s residential and commercial PV sector is now waiting for the new measure to be implemented.

Other countries, such as Italy and Greece, replaced their FiT schemes many years ago with retail net metering (NEM) mechanisms that issue credits to electricity generators for the power they supply to the grid. Other countries, such as Portugal, have opted for self-consumption schemes that are similar to NEM policies but typically do not allow electricity credit transfers. Non-FiT mechanisms tend to reward residential solar generators based on market indicators, such as the electricity wholesale rate and retail prices in a given electricity market. In this expanding financial policy landscape, can solar PV systems develop in tandem with energy storage and EV technologies to enable the transition towards decarbonization?

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsLinking Solar With Energy Storage and EV Technologies

Energy Storage Milestone: PG&E, Tesla Begin Building 730MWh Battery System

on July 30, 2020

Utility-scale battery storage took a major jump forward this month as Pacific Gas & Electric and Tesla began construction on a 182.5-MW lithium ion system in Monterey County, California.

PG&E will own the facility at its substation in Moss Landing, but the design, construction and maintenance operations will be joint effort both by the San Francisco-based utility and the battery and EV manufacturing giant. Once completed, the partners say, Moss Landing will be the largest utility-owned, li-ion battery energy storage system in the world.

“Battery energy storage plays an integral role in enhancing overall electric grid efficiency and reliability, integrating renewable resources while reducing reliance on fossil fuel generation. It can serve as an alternative to more expensive, traditional wires solutions, resulting in lower overall costs for our customers,” said Fong Wan, senior vice president, Energy Policy and Procurement, PG&E. “The scale, purpose and flexibility of the Moss Landing Megapack system make it a landmark in the development and deployment of utility-scale batteries.”

It includes installation of 256 Tesla Megapack battery units on 33 concrete slabs. The Megapack, which was launched by the company last year and is being made at the Tesla Gigafactory1 in Nevada (pictured), can store up to 3 MWh of electricity per unit.

Each unit houses batteries and power conversion equipment in a single cabinet. Transformers and switchgears will also be installed along with the Megapacks to connect energy stored in the batteries with the 115 kilovolt (kv) electric transmission system.

The BESS will have the capacity to store and dispatch up to 730 MWh of energy to the electrical grid at a maximum rate of 182.5 MW for up to four hours during periods of high demand. PG&E’s agreement with Tesla contains an upsize option that can increase the capacity of the system up to six hours or 1.1-GWh total.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEnergy Storage Milestone: PG&E, Tesla Begin Building 730MWh Battery System

Energy Storage Is Rising in Popularity Despite COVID-19 Setbacks

on July 30, 2020

Up until a few years ago, energy storage was expensive. Many thought it a poorly understood, niche technology.

But technology marches on. And battery energy storage technology does as well.

Prices for this tech are dropping. And energy densities and demand are increasing.

Energy storage is big. And it’s about to get even bigger.

Record-Breaking Year
2020 was shaping up to be a record-breaking year for the U.S. energy storage sector. And it started out strong.

The first quarter saw residential energy storage rise a record 10%.

Then the coronavirus hit.

In April, residential energy storage fell 40% from March’s level.

I’m not surprised. There aren’t many sectors that have dodged the pandemic.

Energy storage orders were forecast to top $2 billion this year. Now they’re forecast to hit $1.6 billion.

But you can bet that slowdown will be short-lived.

The pandemic’s effect on utility-scale orders and installations has been relatively minor.

And continued work on major utility energy storage projects will more than double 2019’s $712 million figure.

State Storage
Some U.S. states still have little or no energy storage operating. But that is quickly changing…

Because battery prices continue to fall. And that’s starting to catch policymakers’ attention.

Right now, most state legislatures around the country have yet to enact any energy storage deployment targets. Only California, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Virginia have them.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEnergy Storage Is Rising in Popularity Despite COVID-19 Setbacks

Battery Maker Disputes APS Report on 2019 Explosion in Arizona

on July 29, 2020

(Bloomberg) — An Arizona utility and the South Korean battery maker LG Chem Ltd. are at odds over what caused an explosion at an energy-storage facility last year that left multiple fire fighters injured. A defective battery cell overheated, melting other nearby cells and leading to the buildup of flammable gases, Pinnacle West Capital Corp.’s Arizona Public Service utility said in a report rele

(Bloomberg) — An Arizona utility and the South Korean battery maker LG Chem Ltd. are at odds over what caused an explosion at an energy-storage facility last year that left multiple fire fighters injured.

A defective battery cell overheated, melting other nearby cells and leading to the buildup of flammable gases, Pinnacle West Capital Corp.’s Arizona Public Service utility said in a report released Monday.

But LG Chem, the supplier, counters that protective measures at energy storage facilities go beyond batteries, and that newer sites now include fire suppression equipment and improved safety systems. The company is conducting its own investigation into the fire, a spokesman said by text message.

“LG Chem has a different view on the cause of fire and the company will soon make an announcement on the matter,” the spokesman said.

Firefighters unintentionally ignited the gases when they opened a door to the facility located near Phoenix in April 2019, according to the report, which was prepared by DNV GL for Arizona Public Service and submitted to state utility regulators.

LG Chem Investigation

Jacob Tetlow, senior vice president of operations for Arizona Public Service, said the utility stands by the findings of its report. The utility included LG Chem and other parties in the investigation and also brought in outside experts.

Seoul-based LG Chem said it’s investigating the incident with Exponent, a company that specializes in battery analysis, and plans to release its own report on the cause of fire.

The storage facility was assembled by Fluence Energy, a joint venture between AES Corp. and Siemens AG. Fluence worked with APS during the investigation and will incorporate the findings of the report to prevent future incidents, according to an emailed statement.

The explosion forced Arizona Public Service to halt plans to install 850 megawatts of battery storage on its grid, one of the most ambitious efforts by a U.S. utility at the time. It came after a series of fires at energy storage facilities in South Korea, a global leader in battery manufacturing and deployment. The energy storage industry has been working to address safety concerns about its equipment, which is seen as critical to helping make solar and wind power more reliable and ubiquitous.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsBattery Maker Disputes APS Report on 2019 Explosion in Arizona

Storing Energy in the Freezer: Long-Duration Thermal Storage Comes of Age

on July 29, 2020

Jason Dreisbach fields at least half a dozen calls every week from people trying to sell him a technology to lower his energy costs. As the owner of Dreisbach Enterprises, a cold-storage facility owner with operations in Northern California, he’s a popular target. Cold storage — from frozen food warehouses to grocery and restaurant refrigeration — has one of the highest energy costs of any industry; energy expenditures are usually second only to payroll.

Dreisbach endures sales pitches that run the gamut of energy solutions, from LED lighting to rooftop solar to fuel cells. When Viking Cold Solutions reached out in 2017 with a thermal energy storage technology, his interest was piqued because, even though he had many questions, “it was not a foreign concept,” he said. The battle in cold storage is not keeping things cold, but rather removing heat. “We are constantly fighting [British thermal unit] intrusion,” Dreisbach explained. Viking Cold offered something that aided in the battle.

Cold storage facilities have long been a target for energy-efficiency and demand-response programs because of their intense energy needs. And yet, these ubiquitous facilities have not been fully tapped for their energy savings or potential as flexible energy resources. Some promising companies with mechanically complex thermal energy storage solutions targeting the commercial sectors, including the cold chain, have exited the business or turned to software-based offerings only.

It’s a tough sell to get any business, especially grocers or frozen-food warehouses, to give up valuable square footage for any energy storage solution, or to put their customers’ products in jeopardy to save on costs. Because of this, Viking Cold has found that many of its potential clients have had limited success with demand-management participation. And until recently, most utilities have not actively sought out long-duration energy storage as part of their grid flexibility portfolio. Now, that is all changing.

A big target, easily overlooked
Viking Cold Solutions didn’t set out to develop a technology for utilities to tap as a grid resource. Its founder simply wanted to move more frozen foods more efficiently between Jacksonville, Florida and Puerto Rico for clients such as Sam’s Club. The patented solution leverages thermal energy storage to the benefit of frozen-food storage providers and utilities.

In simple terms, all thermal energy solutions involve the heating or chilling of water or another medium, which is then used to shift energy loads. In the case of Viking Cold’s technology, it also improves efficiency. Thermal energy storage is currently a small but growing portion of the behind-the-meter energy storage market, according to Wood Mackenzie’s energy storage analysts.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsStoring Energy in the Freezer: Long-Duration Thermal Storage Comes of Age