Energy Storage and Renewable Energy News

Renew Econonmy AUA new report into energy storage commissioned by chief scientist Alan Finkel highlights the enormous opportunities for storage in Australia, but underlines how little is actually needed over the short to medium term, even at relatively high levels of wind and solar.

The report, The role of Energy Storage in Australia’s Future Energy Supply Mix, funded by Finkel’s office and the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), says the required investment in energy security and reliability over the next 5-10 years will be minimal (see graph above), even if wind and solar deployment moves far beyond levels contemplated by the Energy Security Board.

The contrast with the ESB modelling – and the attempts by Coalition parties at state and federal level to dismiss high levels of renewable energy as “reckless’ – could not be more pronounced.

While the ESB, in arguing for a National Energy Guarantee, speaks of the system threats and urgency to act with a level of “variable” renewables accounting for between 18 and 24 per cent of total generation, this new report says surprising little storage may be needed with 35 per cent to 50 per cent wind and solar.

Even in the 50 per cent variable renewable energy scenario – more than double that contemplated at the high end by the ESB – the new report suggests enough battery storage may be available “behind the meter” – households and businesses – to meet the storage needs.

“The modelling provides reassurance that both reliability and security requirements may be met with readily available technologies,” it says.

“Nationally and regionally, the electricity system can reach penetrations of renewable energy close to 50 per cent without significant requirements for energy reliability storage.

“Reliability problems, such as those that recently occurred in South Australia and New South Wales, can be responded to quickly and effectively with appropriate storage.”

In one of the most detailed reports into energy storage, the authors point to the huge potential of battery and energy storage in Australia – both in core mineral resources, manufacturing of battery storage, R&D,  deployment, and even renewable hydrogen.

At the same time, the report also warns that Australia needs to develop a recycling strategy for battery storage, and also needs to take into account other social aspects, such as the origins of lithium and cobalt.

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The Motley Fool Energy StorageThere’s no question wind and solar energy are now competitive with fossil fuels around the world on a per-kilowatt-hour basis, but they still face the challenge that they’re intermittent sources of energy. The sun won’t provide energy to make electricity at night and wind turbines only generate electricity about half the time, at best. For now, natural gas or another fossil fuel is needed to fill in any gaps in electricity supply. 

What may change that narrative is energy storage. If energy storage can cost-effectively fill the gaps in wind and solar’s energy production, renewable energy could be a 24/7 energy source and compete directly with fossil fuels in wholesale markets. An analysis by investment bank Lazard says we’re already there

Each year, Lazard does a detailed analysis of the cost of renewable energy versus fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis. This year, utility-scale wind and solar are both cheaper than coal and even natural gas, in some cases. The table below shows the cost of each utility-scale wind and solar compared to coal. 

Where this gets really interesting is that if you add an energy storage system, the cost of solar plus storage is competitive as well. In this example, Lazard assumed that a 200 MW solar power plant is accompanied by a 400 MWh energy storage system that could provide 110 MW of power at a time. This increases the cost to 8.2 cents per kWh for all solar projects, which is still competitive with coal and natural gas turbines. 

In comparison, it would cost at least 11.2 cents per kWh to build a new nuclear power plant, 9.6 cents per kWh for an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC, or clean coal) plant, at least 15.6 cents per kWh for a gas peaking plant, and 19.7 cents per kWh for a diesel reciprocating power plant. Solar plus storage is already competitive with fossil fuels.

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The-AustralianThere are plenty of mixed messages and political pitfalls in today’s report into energy storage that has been ticked off by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

The starting point is that Australia’s electricity sector will get a minimum 35 per cent and potentially 75 per cent of power from ­renewable sources by 2030. South Australia and Tasmania could be as high as 100 per cent by this time.

To achieve it, storage costs alone could top $22 billion.

The report, compiled by the Australian Council of Learned Academies, says this spending will be critical to make intermittent wind and solar power possible at this scale.

Also critical would be “financial incentives” for either states or the private sector to build the level of storage required. Without storage, the council report says, the costs of electricity in Australia will continue to increase with “large negative implications” for the Aust­ralian economy.

There is plenty of political mischief in the projections for renewable energy penetration and potential cost. But, given that global climate change talks limped over the line in Bonn at the weekend there is reason to expect the global fixation on renewable energy generation and how to store it will become only more pressing.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change talks in Bonn achieved little other than survive US President Donald Trump’s ­declaration of withdrawal.

The more significant meeting will take place in France next month where the Paris Agreement host nation will work to keep the proposed $100 billion-a-year ­climate funding promise alive without US participation.

But lobby groups are already ramping up demands for government’s to increase their “ambition” ahead of next year’s meeting. Storage is the big hope but still poorly understood, ­especially in Australia.

The council report says the most likely forms of energy storage over the coming decade or so are pumped hydro, batteries, compressed air and molten salt.

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Energy Storage ForumAlthough electrical energy storage is considered the missing link between majority-renewable grids and consistent, sustainable power, the sector is being held back by a lack of standardisation. Clear, wide-ranging standards, in addition to a regulatory environment that recognises the significance of energy storage, are sorely needed.

Creating and following technical standards improves enterprise resource use — no reinventing the wheel —, facilitates penetration of new technologies across regional, national and international markets, and allows faster and more effective integration into existing systems. So what would effective standards look like for the energy storage sector?

Both governments and the private sector have identified several areas where further standardisation is essential. First, to ensure that energy storage terms are referred to using a common language; while several standards committees are working on the issue, as it stands vendors and consumers in separate — and sometimes, even the same — markets can find themselves comparing apples to oranges.

In addition to a common language for system definitions, common standards are needed for energy storage metrics — efficiency, capacity, power ratings, system inefficiencies — and testing methods. Standard testing methods must be outlined not only for proving component functionality but for system functionality at the point of connection to the grid.

Another issue is that current standards can be both too specific and not specific enough. In the first case, initial standards regarding energy storage were too highly focused on the particular technology — with new batterychemistries being developed every year, this way of issuing standards slows the adoption of new innovations. In the second case, vendors looking to develop their own hardware and systems lack incentive to make their proprietary products play nicely with others.

Private and public sector initiatives are taking place to expand and clarify energy storage standards, both regionally and internationally. Potentially the most impactful of these will come from IEC TC 120 (International Electrotechnical Commission – Technical Committee), expected to publish its new standards at the end of 2017. IEC TC 120 has focused on taking a technology-agnostic, systems based approach.

The brains behind MESA (Modular Energy Storage Architecture), in comparison, are working to develop standards at the component level. Fragmented markets with multiple competing suppliers find that multi-vendor systems are plagued with integration problems.

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Energy Storage NewsIntended to “kick start concrete projects”, the European Commission is set to allocate a further €200 million (US$235.53 million) towards supporting the scale-up of lithium battery manufacturing on the continent.

Under the “strategic work programme” Horizon 2020, the European Commission funds innovation and research in various areas, helping to coordinate the efforts of academics and industry and endowed with around €30 billion in total funding from the European Union.

The commission has already allocated €150 million to battery research and innovation and last week announced the significant top-up. The main thrust behind the extra cash for battery R&D is really in the electrification of transport, with the EC announcing the funding as part of its “Delivering on low emission mobility” document.

However, the document uses terms that encompass the use of batteries as stationary energy storage, both for integrating renewable energy and as a grid asset in their own right. It describes the “transition to a modern and low-carbon economy” as a political priority for Europe and repeatedly says that tackling climate change and air pollution comes with the added benefits of creating jobs and sustainable industries.

The European Commission wants to prepare good conditions and incentives to create a globally competitive, innovative growing industry and employment opportunities around low carbon mobility. At the same time these innovative technologies should be scaled to be “clean, accessible and affordable for all”, the EC said.

While it will introduce specific measures for mobility such as CO2 standards, tenders for clean fleet vehicle contracts and ways for drivers to compare fuel prices easily, the EC said the battery initiative is of “particular strategic importance” to ensure European industry remains competitive.

Volumes of batteries demanded in Europe are predicted to rise significantly, with the EC quoting the work of JRC Science for Policy Support, which forecast demand for lithium-ion batteries to reach 210 to 535GWh by 2025, from 78GWh in the present day worldwide. In Europe, JRC Science for Policy Support said demand could range from 37GWh to 117GWh by 2025, from less than 10GWh annual demand presently.

“From an industrial perspective, the growth in demand will require major investments in the battery value chain between now and 2025, including a massive upscale of battery cell manufacturing,” the EC “Delivering on low emission mobility” paper said.

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Penn State says it is working to advance wind and solar energy through a program offering education and training for energy storage and microgrid systems.

The Energy Storage and Microgrid Training and Certification (ESAM-TAC) program is part of the GridSTAR Center, a smart grid education and research facility at Penn State at The Navy Yard, located in Philadelphia.

According to the university, the large-scale deployment of microgrids and energy storage will require a new approach to how electricity is generated and managed and will include the increased use of batteries and other forms of energy storage.

“A common criticism of renewable energy is that it varies with sun and wind conditions,” says David Riley, a professor of architectural engineering and the director of the GridSTAR Center and ESAM-TAC program. “The electric grid was not built to handle the variable energy created by wind and solar. Smart technologies and batteries can act like shock absorbers on the grid while also improving the economic performance of solar and wind farms.”

Another challenge facing the broad deployment of renewable energy is the lack of a workforce needed to make it happen, according to Penn State.

“The development of new technologies is important, but we have economically viable storage and renewable energy systems already,” Riley continues. “We also need to skill up if we are going design and build energy storage and microgrid systems. The ESAM-TAC program is helping us gain the capability to teach students, engineering professionals and electrical workers what they will need to know to make energy storage affordable and reliable.”

In the last year, five workshops have been conducted by ESAM-TAC partners in Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, Detroit and Los Angeles to help instructors prepare to teach electrical workers about safe and productive energy storage and microgrid construction. Penn State says these instructors will be among the first to implement the ESAM-TAC curriculum and certification program at their institutions.

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marketwiredAUSTIN, TX and BERLIN, GERMANY–(Marketwired – Nov 16, 2017) – Younicos has completed the installation and commissioning of an upgraded 3 MW battery-based energy storage system on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The company replaced previously deployed lead-acid systems with advanced lithium-ion batteries, significantly extending the resource’s operational lifetime and enhancing performance and reliability.

Darron Scott, President/CEO of Kodiak Electric Association (KEA), commented, “Younicos is a forward-thinking organization with proven technology that shares our belief in clean and affordable energy. As a cooperative, we’re owned by the island’s residents — who care about the environment and electricity rates. This upgraded battery system will ensure continued use of renewable energy, keeping our grid reliable and our costs down.”

“We’re delighted to have worked again with KEA to upgrade this system and help support 100% renewables on the island,” said Jayesh Goyal, Younicos Managing Director. “This implementation of lithium-ion batteries greatly enhances the system’s performance and flexibility, while providing grid services and improved resiliency. We’re grateful for the continuing trust that KEA has placed in our engineering capabilities and storage solutions.”

In 2007, KEA set a goal to produce 95 percent of Kodiak Island’s energy from renewable sources by the year 2020, to greatly reduce reliance on diesel fuel and lower the cost of generation to customers. The utility reached that goal ahead of schedule in 2012. Since 2015, Kodiak Island has been one of only five U.S. cities to achieve over 99% of its generation through renewable resources. The use of increased amounts of wind energy to reach the goal while maintaining reliability was enabled by the intelligently controlled battery system originally designed — and now upgraded — by Younicos.

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Energy Storage NewsOver the course of the past two years, staff at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in the U.S. have introduced novel customer engagement opportunities to participate in wholesale energy markets via the Demand Response Auction Mechanism (DRAM) program.

California is transitioning from utility-based Demand Response (DR) programs to wholesale market-based DR resources that provide capacity to the California ISO (CAISO). Traditional DR has been riskier in predictability and performance, which is why policymakers and the CAISO are interested in innovations that offer improved response rates, larger scale, and cost efficiencies. The CAISO and CPUC created the rules to allow third-party DR aggregators to participate in wholesale markets as far back as 2012, but significant participation outside of small pilots was not practical or economical until the DRAM program was launched.

Early DRAM engagement success

In late 2015, the three largest California utilities held auctions for contracts for the upcoming first year of the DRAM program, offering contracts that enabled customer-sited energy storage to provide Resource Adequacy to the wholesale market. These DRAM contracts allow Stem and other energy storage developers to facilitate residential and commercial customer participation in the wholesale markets via each storage developer’s network when there is a “call” from the CAISO. What is remarkable about the Commission’s efforts is that DRAM has proven the technical viability of the first customer-based Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) in the country and achieved a record frequency of customer participation in a wholesale market, on the order of hundreds of dispatches in 2017 as compared to the low tens of dispatches for traditional DR.

Weather-related grid stress certainly contributed to the high engagement. Heading into the summer of 2017, California’s energy markets witnessed unprecedented heat waves, resulting in a very high number of calls, which signaled a need for resources that could act quickly to increase energy supply or reduce demand in order to prevent widespread blackouts. In both the day-ahead and real-time markets, the bids of storage-based demand response providers enrolled in the utility DRAM contracts have cleared more frequently than expected throughout the year. The calls were particularly frequent in the real-time market, where traditional DR would have had a difficult time executing rapidly. For example, Stem’s network of customer-sited storage responded to 150 “real-time,” or five-minute dispatch events for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) between January to May of 2017.

In an extreme case, during a major heat wave which occurred June 20, 2017, the CAISO called on storage resources with DRAM contracts in all three utility service territories. On that day, Stem engaged over 60 customer systems to produce aggregated DR in seven VPPs to respond to calls within Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison service territories in the day-ahead market and in three additional areas with less than five minutes’ notice in SDG&E’s service territory. 

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power engineeringThe expected outcome of utility integrated resource planning (IRP) is the optimum combination of power generation resources that will produce the most cost-effective and reliable generation for the rate-payer. That process is relatively simple for a nuclear and fossil fuel-based system. However, the difficult process of integrating renewable generation has made asset optimization and operational flexibility paramount.

Reaching that goal is often further complicated by external influences. For example, states/nations with Renewable Portfolio Standards often require a set quantity renewable generation to be produced each year.

Others have market-driven rules or have enacted legislation that require placing renewable generation first place in the dispatch queue, thereby pushing conventional assets further down the list, often from baseload to cycling operation. The unpredictability of renewable assets that operate only when the wind blows and the sun shines require more frequent cycling, start/stops, and ramping of assets that accelerates equipment wear-and-tear. Planners have a difficult job optimizing grid efficiency with so many moving parts.

All grid operators want more flexible generation that is available on demand. As additional wind and solar generation come online, some grid operators have elected to rely on market mechanisms to entice developers to construct fast response assets to fill in the inevitable production gaps inherent with renewable generation. Others have installed decentralized “blocks” of gas-fired assets, usually simple cycle combustion turbines or reciprocating engine generators, to provide quick response power when needed. Many utilities are forced to keep assets operating a part-load to satisfy rising spinning reserve margins.

Many utilities have added flexible generation in the form of high-efficiency combined cycle power plants but they remain best suited for operation at or near baseload operation for maximum efficiency.

There is also a steep price to pay in O&M and lost efficiency when cycling or operating a combined cycle plant at part-load. The elegant solution is large-scale energy storage but that technology remains a future promise.

Often these solutions attempt to use fossil generation in ways it wasn’t designed to be used, cycling when renewable energy supplies spike up or down, for whatever reason.

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The Motley Fool Energy StorageTesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) was supposed to be the big name in solar and energy storage, leveraging the Powerwall for homes and Powerpack for businesses and using its SolarCity operations to push systems out into the wild. But Tesla is shrinking its solar ambitions and doesn’t seem to have much interest in being a leader in anything but utility-scale energy storage.

That presents an opportunity for the rest of the industry, and SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) is taking a surprisingly aggressive approach to its energy storage ambitions. Long-term, it could be a huge differentiator for the company. 

Rollout strategies matter in storage

It’s easy for a company to say it has an energy storage product, but rolling it out to customers is easier said than done. Tesla’s Powerwall was introduced in 2015, but there still haven’t been a meaningful number of the systems installed worldwide. 

What drives energy storage installations is economics, whic is a big reason the Powerwall has flopped. Outside of Hawaii, there hasn’t been an economic case for home energy storagebecause customers with solar panels can just send their excess electricity to the grid and be paid the retail price for it, a practice known as net metering. 

Where energy storage has been gaining traction for a few years is in commercial markets, where adoption is driven by economics. Commercial customers generally have bills split into usage and capacity components. The usage side of the bill is similar to residential bills, fluctuating based on how much electricity is used in a month. Capacity charges are based on the peak capacity used by a facility, even if it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes during a month. If energy storage can shave the peaks from this part of the bill, it can justify the storage system financially. Any other value adders, like shifting solar energy produced on-site from peak hours to evening hours, are gravy for the system. 

This is why SunPower is investing in energy storage for its commercial projects. Management says it currently has $60 million in storage pipeline, and in 2018 half of its commercial installations could include storage. That’s a big statement for a company with the No. 1 position in the commercial market today.

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energy storage cleantechnicaThe largest renewable energy acquisition in history — that big enough for you? Global Infrastructure Partners bought Asia-Pacific’s largest independent renewable energy power producer, Equis Energy, to set the record. The acquisition was for a record $5 billion.

French energy giant Engie (formerly called GDF Suez), which has been acquiring cleantech companies like it’s got nothing better to do, recently made an acquisition of an African off-grid solar company, Fenix.

First Solar’s stock price jumped 20% at the end of October on the back of some strongly positive quarterly finances. It’s been over a year since First Solar’s share price was so high … but it’s still far below 2007–2011 levels.

Indian giant Acme Solar Holdings is aiming to raise Rs 2,200 crore ($335 million) in its initial public offering (IPO). You buyin’?

Groupe Renault knows where the world is headed, and it initiated a new Renault Energy Services business entity in order to try to capitalize.

On the other side of the pond, a new consortium of battery tech firms named Imperium3 New York announced it is investing $130 million over the next 5 years to commercialize “an innovative technology for making more efficient and less expensive lithium ion batteries.”

Meanwhile, UK startup Brill Power won a €100,000 prize at EnergyFest in Amsterdamfor finding a way to significantly extend the life of lithium-ion batteries.

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National Grid, a US transmission company, and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have entered into an agreement to work together on research in the areas of transmission grid modernization and energy storage technologies.

The electricity industry is undergoing sweeping changes, including evolving customer expectations, proliferation of renewable and distributed energy resources, and state energy policies that are affecting what the transmission grid is being asked to do.

Both parties are focused on creating a robust, flexible, secure grid that will deliver the nation’s clean, reliable, and affordable energy future. They will collaborate on topics such as:

·      Grid-scale energy storage;

·      Advanced transmission network controls and monitoring;

·      Integration of distributed and renewable energy resources; and

·      Enhanced grid cyber protection.

“I’d like to congratulate National Grid and PNNL on today’s announcement,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Innovation partnerships with the private sector are critical to the groundbreaking work our National Labs undertake. DOE is committed to the modernization, reliability and resiliency of our grid and expanding energy storage research and this partnership is a great example of that commitment.”

“This collaboration is a natural outcome of our organizations’ mutual goal to optimize the benefits and value the transmission network can deliver to our customers, communities and country,” said Rudy Wynter, president and COO of National Grid’s FERC-regulated Businesses. “We are delighted to work with the experts at PNNL to make this vision a reality.”

“A reliable and resilient electric grid is critical to our national and economic security,” said PNNL Director Steven Ashby. “This agreement with National Grid will explore how to best integrate new technologies, like energy storage, onto the grid to improve grid reliability and resiliency in the face of severe weather events, cyber threats, a changing mix and types of electric generation, and the aging of the electricity infrastructure.”

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Energy storage firm RedT has connected a 1MWh flow machine to the grid as part of its project with Centrica in North Cornwall. 

The company uses vanadium redox flow technology, which it claims can deliver longer duration energy storage as opposed to the shorter burst power storage provided by battery technologies and chemistries such as lithium and lead acid.

CEO Scott McGregor believes longer duration storage assets will be required by energy systems in the UK and around the world as the penetration of renewable generation increases.

The project with Centrica is at The Olde House, a 600 acre farm and holiday retreat. It is enabling the farm to store solar energy from its 250kW PV array to use later in the day, which is when guests are returning to the holiday cottages.

The set up means the farm can harness significantly more of its renewable solar onsite generation, with RedT suggesting that that the project’s rate of return is in the “mid teens”, or roughly seven to eight years.

Centrica’s Local Energy Market trial is a £19m innovation project that also involves Western Power Distribution, The University of Exeter and National Grid. It is designed to show the role flexibility and storage can play in driving down the cost of energy across local and national systems.

RedT believes timeshifting the solar for use at peak times could save The Olde House up to 50% on grid imports during peak times.

It will also create revenue by tracking and dynamically responding to changes in grid frequency (frequency response) and providing grid services such as; Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR), participation in the Capacity Market and Demand Turn Up.  

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Mining WeeklyVANCOUVER ( – The Chinese government has awarded a major contract to privately held clean technology innovator Pu Neng Energy for the construction of a 12 MWh vanadium-flow battery, as Phase 1 of a larger 40 MWh energy storage project, in Hubei province.

This first phase will be installed in Zaoyang, Hubei, to integrate a large solar photovoltaic system into the grid. Following this 10 MW, 40 MWh project, there will be a larger 100 MW, 500 MWh energy storage project that will be the cornerstone of a new smart energy grid in Hubei province.

This significant project will serve as a critical peak powerplant, delivering reliability and emissions reductions.

According to Pu Neng, this type of project is a tantalising glimpse of the future of the Chinese electricity grid as the country is halting construction of many coal-fired powerplants and pushing the integration of renewable energy with energy storage.

The China National Development and Reform Commission released Document 1701 in September, which outlined its strategy aimed at accelerating the deployment of grid-scale energy storage. The policy calls for the launch of pilot projects, including deployment of multiple 100-MW-scale vanadium-flow batteries, by the end of 2020, with the aim of large-scale deployment over the ensuing five years.

“China has the largest and highest-grade vanadium resourcesin the world and is poised to use this miracle metal to fundamentally transform its electricity grid. With massive amounts of renewable energy and storage coming on line, China will create the most modern, clean and efficient grid in the world,” commented billionaire mining celebrity and chairperson of Pu Neng, Robert Friedland.

The company has developed the most reliable, longest-lasting vanadium flow battery yet, with more than 800 000 hours of demonstrated performance. The combination of Pu Neng’s proprietary low-cost ion-exchange membrane, long-life electrolyte formulation and innovative flow cell design sets it apart from other providers.

Pu Neng’s vanadium redox battery systems store energy in liquid electrolyte in a patented process based on the reduction and oxidation of ionic forms of the element vanadium. This is a nearly infinitely repeatable process that is safe, reliable and non-toxic. Components can be nearly 100% recycled at end-of-life, dramatically improving lifecycle economics and environmental benefits compared with lead-acid, lithium-ion and other battery systems.

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With Tesla adding its Powerwalls and Powerpacks to houses, businesses, and the grid itself, one might think that Li-ion batteries are the ultimate in energy storage systems. That theory doesn’t hold water – but what does hold water is the world’s tallest wind turbine: a 3.4 megawatt GE 3.4-137, sitting atop a Max Bögl tower whose base includes a reservoir for a pumped hydro energy storage system, which the company calls a “water battery.”

Pumped hydropower is a well-established energy storage technique; it’s also one of the most efficient energy storage technologies, which is why pumped hydro represents 95% of the US grid’s energy storage capacity. The concept is simple: when electricity is abundant (production exceeds demand), a pump moves water uphill and stores it in a reservoir. During peak demand times, the water flows downhill, turning the pump into a generator. This is typically done in areas where the natural geography provides both an upper and a lower reservoir. In some cases, a man-made reservoir serves as either the upper or lower vessel.

When the town of Gaildorf, Germany, decided to put four wind turbines on some nearby mountains, officials wanted to incorporate an energy storage system. While the area has a natural body of water in the valley, an artificial reservoir was needed at a higher elevation. Engineers at Max Bögl, a German company that makes hybrid steel and concrete turbine towers, saw an opportunity to increase the wind turbines’ generating capacity and satisfy the need for an upper reservoir at the same time. They designed an innovative tower base that increases the turbine height by forty meters and holds 40 million liters (10.5 million US gallons) of water. The additional tower height allows each turbine to capture strong higher-altitude winds, while the “water battery” can store 70 MWh worth of electricity with a peak power output of 16 MW.

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Energy Storage ForumThe energy storage market is growing exponentially, however, as a percentage of total grid capacity it still only makes up a tiny fraction of the whole. Even among energy storage applications, pumped hydropower still retains a 95% market share. The major factor inhibiting further uptake — cost.

One factor emerging as a clear driver of cost reductions is economy of scale. As demand for energy storageincreases, mass production becomes feasible. Take Tesla’s Gigafactories: with a planned annual battery production capacity of 35 GWh — close to the current level of battery production of the entire world.

Tesla’s ambitious factory plans may be getting the most press, but they’re far from the only game in town. Accumotive (Germany), Energy Absolute (Thailand) and a consortium including Boston Energy and Innovation (BEI), Charge CCCV, C&D Assembly, Primet Precision Materials and Magnis Resources (USA) all have large-scale manufacturing plants in the pipeline.

These new large factories will allow energy storage to benefit from spreading the hefty upfront costs over the number of units produced. Tesla also expects that implementing innovative manufacturing processes will further drive cost reduction.

Lithium-ion based technologies account for close to 95% of new deployments of energy storage. They will undoubtedly see the most reductions in cost in the near future, however, production growth will still have to contend with the scarce quantities and precarious supply chains of the required raw materials.

The supply chain concerns for lithium-ion batteries is a main driver of research into new battery technologies — cost reduction is another. While redox flow batteries are not a new technology, this area of energy storage is seeing continuous development of new battery chemistries.

Some of these chemistries are already being tested and manufactured commercially, while others are only just being proven in university laboratories. In almost every case, the focus is on making effective batteries with common, cost-effective and safe raw materials.

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Energy Storage NewsToshiba and NRG Energy have completed a new battery energy storage system that will benefit the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid.

The Elbow Creek Energy Storage project is a lithium-ion based Toshiba battery system that is able to store and provide up to 2MW of electrical power. The project located near major generator and utility NRG’s and NRG Yield’s Elbow Creek Wind Farm in Howard County, Texas, was designed to enhance the stability of the local electric grid. Transmission system operator ERCOT is repsonsible for the provision and maintenance around 90% of Texas residents’ electricity network, run as a non-profit corporation and overseen by the state’s Public Utilities’ Commission (PUC).  

The battery system is expected to help solve short-term grid issues by offering high-speed frequency regulation services. The project was manufactured at Toshiba’s 1 million sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Houston, Texas and features Toshiba’s SCiBTM Rechargeable Battery.

It has been part funded by Texas’ environment agency, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and it is hoped that the project can contribute to the state’s efforts to meet decarbonisation targets. TCEQ introduced the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) in August 2016, which gives out grants for individuals and businesses seeking to implement technologies that reduce diesel, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide, aimed primarily for air quality purposes, rather than explicity for decarbonisation. 

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Energy Storage NewsHaving been subject to discussion for years within the academic sphere, energy storage projects have become a topic of high interest to energy sector focused investors in recent years.

Decreasing cost curves, changing regulatory environments within the energy markets such as deregulation and shifts away from subsidised renewables to market pricing modes, and evolving software capabilities, are increasing investor confidence in energy storage investments and result in increased demand for investment opportunities.

While this seems to be true especially for more mature renewable energy markets like Europe, the United States and several others, investors are facing the problem that energy storage projects as investments are – in most cases – discussed on a very abstract basis. Only considering the “big picture” and seeing the project as a future pillar of the energy market leaves out details such as the complexity coming with energy storage investments in practice.

In my opinion, the propensity to drastically reduce complexity by discussing energy storage as high-level topic has developed based on two major factors:

Firstly, energy storage is still a new topic in the market compared to the long history of energy generation and transmission. Hence, while accumulators and especially batteries seem to be part of consumers’ lives ever since, the discussion about energy storage as a viable part of the electricity market structure is relatively trendy and new. In addition, due to the high diversity of technology types and their evolution, economies of scale and market consolidation (as seen currently in the photovoltaic market) are not yet reached. This leads to different potentials, resulting in an ultimate mess of investment cases. Supported by the fact that storage investments are often declared as a “venture capital topic”.

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FuturismRenewable energy is, undeniably, on the rise: solar and wind farms are popping up in the U.S., Europe, China, and Australia, while many companies are planning to source 100 percent of their energy from renewables. Side-by-side with this growing interest in clean energy are equally increasing energy storage needs. According to Spencer Hanes, a business development managing director at the North Carolina-based utility provider Duke Energy, batteries—like Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack—are going to take over the U.S. electric grid in five years.

“There’s going to be a lot of excitement around batteries in the next five years. And I would say that the country will get blanketed with projects,” Hanes said on Thursday, speaking as part of a panel at Solar Power Midwest in Chicago, according to Forbes.

Solar and wind farms generate energy at peak periods, when the sun is out and the winds are strong, but these don’t always match the needs of the grid. To remedy this, solar and wind farms, and even utilities, are turning to energy storage batteries. Tesla has a number of projects like this in Australia, while Google parent company Alphabet is working on a similar project in Malta.


Aside from batteries in larger energy farms, batteries are also becoming more popular domestically. Soon, more houses are going to be equipped with home batteries, like the Powerwall and Ikea’s home battery packs, as a reaction to the shift to renewables—and because they bring down energy costs. In the U.S., home developers in a number of state, which include New York and California, are making batteries part of their houses. “With the way that the cost curves are coming down it’s a big opportunity for all of us to deliver what customers want,” Hanes added.

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Indian state-owned company Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has invested $12m in the 28MW Basin 1 and 2 battery storage project in the Canadian province of Ontario.

EESL has partnered with UK advisor EnergyPro to form EESL EnergyPro Assets Limited (EPAL) for the project. The JV has invested $12m in the scheme.

Basin 1 and 2 is being built and owned by Swiss lithium-ion battery developer Leclanché and development partner Deltro Energy.

The 28MW/14 MWh project will provide services to the Independent Energy Systems Operator that oversees and manages the power grid of the province of Ontario, and is interconnected to Toronto Hydro, the largest municipal electricity distribution company in Canada.

“We are excited to be working with our joint venture partner EESL and Leclanché on this significant utility scale energy storage project,” said EnergyPro managing partner Steven Fawkes.

“We see it as a first step to deploying energy storage solutions at a range of scales, something that will be essential to the energy transition in all economies.”

EPAL chairman Saurabh Kumar added: “It has been our constant endeavour to make future-ready technology solutions accessible. We are confident that this partnership will help bring a new era of clean energy solutions for the world.”

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