Turns out Democrats and Republicans Agree on Something: Microgrids

on April 9, 2020

In an era of bipartisan wrangling, it turns out microgrids are one thing US voters agree upon — at least once they understand them.

That’s the finding of a survey conducted for the Civil Society Institute, a Massachusetts think tank that works to uncover common ground on education, healthcare, water, energy and other issues.

Last year the institute decided to take a deep look at microgrids after its research into renewable energy indicated that microgrids hold strong universal appeal.

Their polling of 1,000 voters in October, and qualitative discussions with 400 voters, upheld the premise. Democrats, Independents and Republicans overwhelmingly liked the microgrid concept — once it was explained to them.

Initially, the majority of all voters (83%) said they had never heard of the concept (56%), or they had heard of it but had the wrong impression (27%).

What voters like about microgrids
But after they were given a definition*, the conversation became animated and the audience wanted to learn more, according to pollster Vince Breglio.

“I was amazed at how much people had to say about a concept they had not understood and only had a short paragraph of explanation about,” said Breglio, advisor to US presidents, senators and governors as well as such corporations as Sony, Toyota and Caterpillar.

So what did they like about microgrid technology?

That’s where ideology did come into play. Democrats tended to see microgrids as a climate solution, as did women, younger voters and Hispanics. Republicans, older voters, and those with higher incomes favored messaging related to protecting electric supply against hacking or terrorism.

The survey also uncovered strong support for community microgrids when they were described as part of grid modernization.

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsTurns out Democrats and Republicans Agree on Something: Microgrids

The Subtle Art of Developing Energy Storage During a Pandemic

on April 9, 2020
Greentech-Media

With battery factories restarting and demand for EVs down, grid storage developers could face a new dynamic: cell oversupply.

We had to do a coronavirus energy storage roundup at some point.

The virus and ensuing stay-at-home orders hit the solar industry hard and fast. Some of those impacts carry over to storage, but battery-centric companies have dodged direct business losses pretty well so far.

Pure-play storage companies haven’t had to formally toss out their business forecasts, like SunPower and Sunrun did, or fire hundreds of people, like the reconstituted Sungevity. There hasn’t been a rash of formal delays to landmark battery projects (if you hear of any,…

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsThe Subtle Art of Developing Energy Storage During a Pandemic

All-Organic, Sustainable Proton Battery From Sweden

on April 9, 2020
PV-Magazine

With demand for energy storage solutions expected to go nowhere but up in the coming years, improving the performance of batteries, and reducing the environmental of their manufacture, are important areas of research.

Lithium-ion batteries are expected to remain the mainstream solution for energy storage for the foreseeable future, and much of the research in the field is focused on alternative materials and chemistries for these and other metal-ion batteries. But there are plenty of alternative battery types, and proton batteries represent one of the newer, less explored paths to a better performing battery.

The first working proton battery was demonstrated by scientists at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2018. The concept is essentially a reversible hydrogen fuel cell: During charging, protons produced by water splitting are conducted through a cell membrane and into a storage material. And in discharging, the process is reversed to reform water.

New ground

Scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden chose to work on the proton battery concept thanks to the potential to design batteries that don’t rely on rare, expensive or otherwise problematic materials. “A great many of the batteries manufactured today have a major environmental impact, not least due to the mining of the metals used in them,” explained Uppsala University’s Christian Strietzel. “The point of departure for our research has therefore been to develop a battery built from elements commonly found in nature and that can be used to create organic battery materials.”

The proton battery developed by the Uppsala team is described in An all-organic proton battery energized for sustainable energy storage, published in Angewandte Chemie. The group worked with two organic molecule groups – quinones and thiophenes – as electrode materials, with an acidic aqueous solution as the electrolyte.

The battery can be charged at a constant voltage, and reached its full capacity of 60 milliamp-hours per gram within 100 seconds, which the group says would make it ideal for integration with a PV installation. After 500 cycles, the battery retained 85% of its initial performance, and was shown to retain these favorable characteristics at temperatures down to -24 C.

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsAll-Organic, Sustainable Proton Battery From Sweden

PODCAST: COVID-19 and its Impact on the Global Energy Storage Sector

on April 8, 2020
Energy-Storage-News

The latest episode of the Solar Media Podcast is now available to stream, featuring considerable discussion around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the energy storage sector.

In April’s pod, Andy Colthorpe and Liam Stoker explore how the pandemic is causing delays to energy storage projects in the US and Europe and a forecasted slowdown in technology cost reductions.

The podcast can be streamed below:

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsPODCAST: COVID-19 and its Impact on the Global Energy Storage Sector

California: We Need 1GW of New Long-Duration Energy Storage by 2026

on April 8, 2020
Greentech-Media

California officials expect that the state needs 1 gigawatt of new long-duration energy storage by 2026 to advance its clean-energy transition.

That figure emerged in the “reference system portfolio” that the California Public Utilities Commission approved on March 26. The grid planning document calls for no new gas plants, although almost all of the existing capacity is expected to remain online throughout the decade. But it adds 11 gigawatts of utility-scale solar by 2030, nearly 3 gigawatts of wind and a groundbreaking amount of energy storage.

The plan anticipates 8,873 megawatts of batteries, the technology that dominates the energy storage market today. That’s many times over the national cumulative installed battery capacity that’s now installed. But the CPUC broke new ground in carving out space for the addition of nearly 1 gigawatt of “pumped storage, or other long-duration storage with similar attributes” by 2026.

“This is the first formal mechanism we’ve seen that recognizes that need in the system,” said Mateo Jaramillo, co-founder of seasonal storage technology startup Form Energy. “The state recognizes that it needs to send the right signal to the market now in order to meet the longer-term goals.”

Technologists working on long-duration storage, which proposes to complement wind and solar plants by storing power for many more hours than lithium-ion batteries can handle cost-effectively, have raised hundreds of millions of venture dollars and grant funding and produced an eclectic mix of plausible technologies. But none of them have achieved enduring success in the electricity markets as constituted today.

With the official call for 1 gigawatt of new long-duration capacity, California could become the first clear market for some of these emerging technologies, or perhaps the return of the oldest: pumped hydro storage. Then again, the CPUC planning document alone lacks the power to make that happen.

How big a deal is this?
Long-duration storage is not new to California. The CPUC already oversees 1,600 megawatts of pumped hydro storage. Those decades-old projects play a vital role in the state’s water supply system as well as serving the grid.

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCalifornia: We Need 1GW of New Long-Duration Energy Storage by 2026

Coronavirus is Bringing To Light ‘Cracks in US Infrastructure and Supply Chain’

on April 8, 2020
Energy-Storage-News

The COVID-19 crisis is bringing into the public eye the US’ dependency on importing goods, particularly batteries for advanced energy storage and electric vehicles, the CEO of a battery materials startup has said.

Dr Francis Wang, head of Nanograf, a US company working to commercialise a high energy density battery anode made with a composite of silicon and ‘curved’ graphene, replacing existing anodes which use graphite, said that the situation created by the novel coronavirus “is bringing to light… cracks in US infrastructure and the supply chain”.

Asked by Energy-Storage.news for an upstream technologist’s opinion on how supply chains have been impacted by the shutdown of operations in factories first in China and then elsewhere in the world, Wang said that “the US doesn’t make anything anymore, and we are having trouble because we don’t make equipment or materials and batteries is one of them”.

“Most battery production is split between Japan, Korea and China. It used to be roughly one-third, one-third, one-third, in terms of output. But in recent years it’s become closer to 60-70% of lithium ion batteries being made in China. That’s a big deal,” the Nanograf CEO said.

“Energy storage, especially portable power, for electric vehicles or iphones, iwatches, consumer electronics, and other use cases — it’s all linked to China. Coupled with the trade war – and the increased tensions generally between the US and China – you wonder whether the US might be in trouble because China isn’t very happy with us right now.”

All the US has these days in terms of advanced battery technology production, is the Nevada Gigafactory operated by Tesla-Panasonic, Wang pointed out, with legacy battery companies like Duracell and Rayovac largely reliant on alkaline tech: “a relatively antiquated technology”.

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCoronavirus is Bringing To Light ‘Cracks in US Infrastructure and Supply Chain’

China’s Energy Storage Industry Hopes For Rebound in Second Half of 2020

on April 7, 2020
Energy-Storage-News

A survey of present and expected impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on member companies in the China Energy Storage Alliance (CNESA) has underscored their faith in recovery prospects, despite the worries of nearly 80% of respondents over “reduced operating income and tightening of liquidity”.

A summary of findings emailed to Energy-Storage.News said there has been an undoubted impact on both the upstream and downstream end of the energy storage industry, with supply chain production and project deployments and grid connections alike suffering delays.

However, association research manager Wang Si said in his summary that 64% of survey respondents believe “new opportunities for energy storage will emerge after the outbreak is contained,” while “most also believe that the energy storage market can still achieve its predicted growth rate in 2020”. The survey’s response-gathering process began on 5 February, while China was the focal point of the COVID-19 outbreak before the global spread that followed.

“In general, because the energy storage industry is still in an early stage of rapid development, the epidemic is likely to have a limited impact on the overall market development for the year,” Wang Si of CNESA wrote.

Cost reductions slowed by supply chain, demand impacts
In other words, CNESA noted that the domestic industry only began its full-on commercialisation last year and still awaits the creation of a supportive policy structure and market environment that could bring energy storage to rapid growth.

Perhaps hardest hit in terms of revenues will be small and medium-sized businesses that are primarily focused on the energy storage market, including system integrators, project developers and asset operators.

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsChina’s Energy Storage Industry Hopes For Rebound in Second Half of 2020

COVID-19 and Energy Storage: Live Updates – Continued

on April 7, 2020
Energy-Storage-News

6 April 2020: China’s energy storage industry hopes for rebound in second half of 2020

A survey of present and expected impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on member companies in the China Energy Storage Alliance (CNESA) has underscored their faith in recovery prospects, despite the worries of nearly 80% of respondents over “reduced operating income and tightening of liquidity”.

A summary of findings emailed to Energy-Storage.News said there has been an undoubted impact on both the upstream and downstream end of the energy storage industry, with supply chain production and project deployments and grid connections alike suffering delays.

However, association research manager Wang Si said in his summary that 64% of survey respondents believe “new opportunities for energy storage will emerge after the outbreak is contained,” while “most also believe that the energy storage market can still achieve its predicted growth rate in 2020”.

Read the full story here.

6 April 2020: New York’s economic relief plan to back ‘rapid transition to clean renewable energy’

New York State has opted to “dramatically speed up the siting and construction of clean energy projects” as one facet of its roadmap for economic comeback from the COVID-19 crisis, which has hit the US state hard.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) emailed PV Tech and sister site Energy-Storage.news over the weekend with the announcement. NYSERDA is one of the public agencies enacting the new legislation, which will help speed up the permitting of large-scale renewable and clean energy projects (defined as larger than 25MW, or between 20MW to 25MW), as well as the development of projects in areas such as landfills and abandoned or underused sites.

The raft of bills is called the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act and will be enacted by NYSERDA along with the NY State Department of State, its Department of Public Service, its Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Empire State Development Corporation.

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCOVID-19 and Energy Storage: Live Updates – Continued

Coronavirus Could Derail Energy Storage Growth in 2020

on April 7, 2020

If coronavirus containment measures continue to curtail movement of goods and people through Q2 this year, alongside an economic downturn, the market impact could trim Wood Mackenzie’s 2020 global energy storage deployments forecast by 19%.

This equates to a 3 GWh reduction over the year. Notably, this would still make 2020 a record-breaking year with 12.6 GWh deployed.

Wood Mackenzie’s early estimates indicated a 10% lithium-ion battery supply reduction, mainly due to China’s work restriction measures.

Le Xu, Wood Mackenzie Senior Research Analyst, said: “As this happened in China, Japanese and South Korean facilities ramped up to capitalise on the shortfall. As of March, restrictions have been lifted and production facilities in China are now at 60% to 70% of pre-virus levels.

“As such, the major risks to battery supply have been somewhat mitigated. A similar story has panned out for inverters where major supply risks have also, so far, been alleviated. However, mitigation efforts will likely see the battery supply chain accelerate. This will have far-reaching implications, not just for energy storage but for the global economy too.”

A recession for 2020 is looking imminent and outside of installation restrictions there will be additional downward pressure on demand as consumers spend less on luxury high-cost items, such as residential energy storage.

“For large scale projects, particularly in markets where energy storage is predominantly a merchant play, financiers’ appetite for this type of asset is already being reduced. Final project investment decisions will be pushed further out to when market conditions make the risk-return-ratio for this asset class more palatable.

“On the other hand, interest rates are being slashed to record low levels. This may be a silver lining for financially borderline projects, with lower costs of capital available to help to tip them into the investable category. This will be of particular interest to merchant projects currently seeking finance that typically rely on high-cost equity capital” said Rory McCarthy, Wood Mackenzie Principal Analyst.

The global energy storage market contracted for the first time last year, falling from 6.2 GWh in 2018 to 5.3 GWh in 2019. This contraction was primarily due to market declines in South Korea, China, the UK and Canada, according to Wood Mackenzie’s analysis.

Despite slowdowns in key markets and this year’s coronavirus crisis, the industry should return to growth in 2020.

“It did not take long before cracks appeared in South Korea’s unbelievable 2018 market growth. Since breaking the market record for most storage deployed in a single year, 28 fire incidents were reported, pulling this bull market into a 70% year-over-year decline. 2019 saw over 1 GWh in annual deployment reductions – enough to put a generally slow year into the red in growth terms.

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCoronavirus Could Derail Energy Storage Growth in 2020

Could COVID-19 Give Rise to the Home Microgrid?

on April 6, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) could alter who needs reliable energy — and when — and place new importance on residential microgrids.

While it’s too soon to gauge energy trends after society emerges from isolatation, short-term indicators may offer clues.

For one, we’re seeing what it means when a significant portion of the US population makes home their workplace.

Before COVID-19, about 5 million people, or 3.6% of the workforce, worked from home, according to Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2018 American Community Service (ACS) data.

Now with as many as 56% of workers operating from home, skeptical employers are forced to test the approach. Kate Lister, president of the analytics firm, believes many will see the advantages and continue the practice.

How many will keep working from home after COVID-19?
“Our prediction is that the longer people are required to work at home, the greater the adoption we will see when the dust settles. We believe, based on historical trends, that those who were working remotely before the pandemic, will increase their frequency after they are allowed to return to their offices,” Lister said.

She estimates that work-at-home employees could grow from 3.6% to 25-30% of the workforce within the next two years.

This could shift the energy landscape meaningfully, given that Lister estimates a home-based worker adds 3,000 kWh per year to household electricity use, a significant uptick. Average annual consumption for a US household is about 11,000 kWh.

read more
Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsCould COVID-19 Give Rise to the Home Microgrid?