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Energy storage

Energy storage: Not ready for prime time (yet)

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 14:57 -- Anonymous
duck curve

For obvious reasons, BEST is a keen supporter of energy storage. All the predictions are for installations of grid and domestic energy storage to experience huge growth over the next decade – read any of those rather tiresome reports by Frost & Sullivan, Navigant et al for more detailed crystal ball-gazing.

But there’s good reason to believe energy storage is not ready for prime time. Not yet.

That’s not so say there is no need for energy storage. In California, this is neatly illustrated by the so-called ‘duck curve’ above. The neck of the duck is the increasing ramp rate of peaking power plants as backup for the ever-deeper penetration of variable wind and solar power.

The belly of the duck is excess generation as solar and other renewables grows; the bigger the excess, the fatter the duck. Energy storage could flatten the curve and make use of some of that excess solar power and other renewable energy.

As yet, however, the numbers aren’t working. The arbitrage opportunities arising from the ‘duck curve’ – storing power when cheap to be used at peak times – are much less anticipated and the difference is too small to finance storage.

In general, there is not yet a market for energy storage. This comes down purely to costs. Where storage does make sense now is on islands with limited grid infrastructure, like Hawaii, or the US Virgin Islands, where the retail electricity price is an astronomical $0.52/kWh.

In mainland USA, storage works for frequency response in markets such as the New York ISO, where a recent change in regulation rewards the inherent advantages of storage, i.e. response in milliseconds rather than minutes as for gas-fired peaker plants. However, it has been noted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) that the frequency response market for energy storage is in danger of becoming saturated over the next five years.

And the costs of energy storage, of course, are not just down to the battery. Power electronics and the balance-of-plant account for up to 60% of the system cost. Concrete pads to park battery storage systems can be surprisingly expensive, as too can the permitting process.

Moreover, the industry does not yet have the reliability desired by financiers to be bankable. Just because a battery may come with a warranty, developers cannot be 100% sure that the batteries will perform as they should, when they should. Cycle life data of ‘real world’ energy storage data is very limited for systems deployed in the field.

Getting utilities interested in grid storage will be a challenge. Utilities tend to think in decades of operation, rather than years, when it comes to investing in components. Furthermore, energy storage is seen as having relatively poor ROI and utilities are said to be worried about ‘hidden costs’.

In most cases, an energy storage system needs to cost $350/kWh to be in the money, according to EPRI. The average system cost of $1000/KWh, not to mention an operations & maintenance cost of $200/kWh, suggests this may some time away from being viable without subsidies, mandates with regulated returns etc. 

And the ‘operating systems’ of energy storage systems are where computers were 30 years ago. They are currently in a pre-Windows world, not particularly user-friendly, not plug ‘n’ play, with few standards and codes for utilities to be comfortable with connecting an energy storage system into, for example, a transformer.

Furthermore, the so-called ‘value stack’ of energy storage for utilities – frequency response, network investment deferral, arbitrage, voltage regulation, peak shaving and so on – is great in theory but in practice, no-one yet knows the capex cost, or indeed, if a battery system is up to the task of such multi-functionality.

Of course, energy storage developers will be armed with performance guarantees from battery manufacturers, but for 10 years plus? 20 years? Not yet.

Undoubtedly there will be growth in energy storage. Much like EVs, however, the hype will not be borne out by reality.

Read the Summer 2014 edition of BEST for show reports of the annual US Energy Storage Association conference, the International Flow Battery Forum and much, much more.

Newcastle research team reveals “trigeneration” off-grid CHP system

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 16:43 -- Anonymous
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Newcastle University
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A consortium led by Newcastle University has developed a small-scale off-grid combined heat and power (CHP) system incorporating an energy storage system (ESS).

The small-scale CHP system, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), uses waste heat to provide cooling and heat as well as power. A domestic-scale tri-generation system of this type would be rated between 6kW and 9kW electricity.

The ESS is designed to provide dependable electricity and to cope with daily fluctuation demand for electricity without a connection to the grid. “Our solution was to incorporate advanced electrical storage into the system, both batteries and the latest supercapacitors, combined with innovative system control,” said Tony Roskilly, professor at Newcastle University.

To make the system greener and accessible for isolated homes in developing countries, the CHP is run by biofuels. “We developed a system for using the oils obtained from pressing crop seeds, like those from jatropha and croton,” said Roskilly. The crops can grow in harsh environments and do not affect food production, according to the researchers.

The team also included researchers from University of Leeds, University of Ulster and three Chinese universities.

TransGrid installs 100kVA storage system in Australia

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 10:28 -- Anonymous
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Magellan ESS
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Network operator TransGrid has deployed a 100kVA energy storage system (ESS) in Western Sydney, Australia.

The battery ESS, build by Australian Magellan Power, utilises 400kWh lithium polymer batteries and an advance three-phase bi-directional inverter. It is designed to support the connected grid by providing peak demand and power quality service such as reactive power compensation.

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Saft secures major li-ion battery deal in Hawaii

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 10:06 -- Anonymous
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Saft ESS
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French battery supplier Saft is to supply a lithium-ion battery energy storage system (ESS) to a 12MW PV plant on Kauai Island, Hawaii, US.

Saft was contracted by Kauai Island Utility Co-operative (KIUC) to provide the 6MW ESS consisting of 10 containers in order to stabilise the Kauai island grid. Saft said the deal is worth “multi-million dollars”.

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CALEB and CalBattery to form li-ion battery JV

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 14:30 -- Anonymous
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Los Angeles-based CALEB Technology (CALEB) and California Lithium Battery (CalBattery) have teamed up to build next-gen lithium-ion batteries.

The joint venture (JV) is set to produce a line of “ultra-high” performance lithium-ion batteries for consumer electronics, power tools and electric vehicles (EV).

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USABC awards $7.7m to Envia EV battery project

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:51 -- Anonymous
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Envia facility
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The US Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC) has awarded $7.7m to California-based Envia Systems for an electric vehicle (EV) battery technology project.

The three-year project is focused on the development of high-energy lithium-ion layered-layered cathode and silicon-based anode material for EV applications. The goal of the research programme is to develop an energy storage system that supports the commercialisation of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles.

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NRStor deploys 2MW flywheel energy storage facility in Canada

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:32 -- Anonymous
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NRStor flywheel facility
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Toronto-based energy storage developer NStor has installed a 2MW grid-connected flywheel energy storage facility in Ontario, Canada – a first for the country.

The facility will provide service matched regulation to Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

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Approval for Convergent VRLA battery storage

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:26 -- Anonymous
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VRLA batteries
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New York-based Convergent Energy + Power has won a contract to install a valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery storage plant in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, US.

The battery storage system is to feed 500kWh continuously to the grid. The system will be part of Central Maine Power’s (CMP) plan to provide load reduction on its transmission line to the Boothbay region and to prevent outages during peak hours.

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Highpower gets energy storage funding from Shenzhen government

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 16:04 -- Anonymous
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Highpower ESS
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Highpower International has received Rmb3.86m ($622,200) from state funds to develop its PV and off-grid energy storage systems (ESS).

The funds, given by Development and Reform Commission of Shenzhen Municipality, will be mainly spent on development and production equipment in order to accelerate production for Highpower’s residential ESS, the company said.

Highpower’s subsidiary Icon Energy Systems recently introduced an ESS-line, which features a lithium-ion battery, solar cell panel and inverter output device, charged by PV and commercial grid. The product line ranges from 0.5kWh to 15kWh and aims to serve the needs of commercial and residential power systems, solar power, back-up emergency power and outdoor uses.

George Pan, chairman and CEO of Highpower said: “Both central and local governments of China are committed to nurturing and favoring the development of the clean energy industry. We continue to benefit from increasing government support and intend to leverage our expertise and production capability to increase our pipeline of rechargeable battery products.”

The global energy storage market is expected to grow fast over the next years. According to Navigant Research, the micro grid market will increase from $4.3 billion to $19.9 billion in 2020.

Battery supplier Highpower also manufactures consumer-oriented chargers for e-bikes as well as lithium and nickel-metal hydride-based batteries.

AU Optronics introduces li-ion storage system in Australia, Japan and Europe

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 11:12 -- Anonymous
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AU Optronics
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Taiwan AU Optronics (AUO) has launched an energy storage system (ESS) PowerLegato for commercial and residential use after being certified by German testing house TÜV Rheinland.

The self-claimed high density ESS provides a 48V lithium-ion battery produced in Japan and features over current, temperature, voltage and undervoltage protection. The system is available in 2.4kWh, 4.8kWh and 7.2kWh. It supports hybrid energy inputs and outputs and has the option to choose between PV DC and grid AC sources.

The system can also operate fully stand-alone off grid in Germany as well as the UK and can serve as emergency backup, according to the company. It also fulfills the qualifications for the Japanese S-mark incentive programme, allowing owners to receive subsidies.

According to AUO, the ESS can store 25% more energy per kg than its competitors.

The residential version entered the European market in 2013 and was awarded for its design by iF and Reddot.

German research centre Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) recently warned about safety issues of non-certified residential ESS.


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