Want a Solar-Powered Home? Here’s a New Battery That Won’t Ignite
As solar panels and wind turbines spread worldwide, they’ll need batteries to store power for times when they don’t produce it. Harvard debuts a promising prototype. By Wendy Koch, National Geographic SEPTEMBER 24, 2015 If you dream of an off-grid house powered by the sun, plan on a battery to store energy for cloudy days—ideally, one that won’t catch fire. Harvard researchers might have just the fix.
“It is a huge step forward. It opens this up for anyone to use,” says Michael Aziz, Harvard University engineering professor and co-author of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. Because the battery is safe and non-corrosive, he says, it’s well suited for both businesses and homes, adding: “This is chemistry I’d be happy to put in my basement.”………http://news.nationalgeographic.com/energy/2015/09/150924-nonflammable-battery-could-charge-solar-homes/
In the end, the solution might lie on a smaller scale: giving everyone the power to store their own power. Tesla is one company of several in this game: it recently announced a device called the Powerwall, designed for homes and businesses. It uses the same batteries as electric cars to store energy, either from renewables or cheap night-time electricity, ready to be used during the day.
If such systems become commonplace, we might all become a little more aware of where our energy is coming from, and how our own behaviour affects its use and production
The battery revolution that will let us all be power brokers, New Scientist 22 July 15
Companies are racing to find better ways to store electricity – and so provide us with cheaper energy when and where we want it “……... Although they are still dwarfed in most respects by the bulky lead-acid batteries found in almost every car on the road today, in 2015, lithium-ion batteries will account for around a third of the money spent on rechargeable batteries globally (see “Turn it on”), and just under a sixth of the total energy stored, according to French research firm Avicenne.
Systems flexible enough to accommodate the ups and downs of solar and wind production can be made by adjusting the power at millions of homes and businesses on a minute-by-minute or even second-by-second basis. This approach requires no new hardware, some control software and a bit of consumer engagement.
Massive balancing act..……This is an enormous challenge to grid operators in this region. Massive fluctuations in power require equally massive storage devices that can charge when the wind is blowing, and discharge during periods of calm.
Now, the balance of supply and demand for power is primarily done by generating more power rather than storage.
Grid operators draw on what is called the balancing reserves obtained from fossil fuel generators or hydro plants, when available. These power plants ramp up and down their output in response to a signal from a grid balancing authority. This is just one of many ancillary services required to maintain a reliable grid.
Many states are now scrambling to find new sources of ancillary services, and the federal government is also searching for incentives: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) orders 745, 755 and 784 are recent responses by a government agency to create financial incentives for responsive resources to balance the grid.
Are batteries the solution?
Storage is everywhere, but we have to think beyond electricity…………..
Through local intelligence – in the form of a chip on each device or a home computer for many devices – the collection of one million pools in Florida can be harnessed as massive batteries. Through one-way communication, each pool will receive a regulation signal from the grid operator. The pool will change state from on to off based on its own requirements, such as recent cleaning hours, along with the needs of the grid. Just as in the office building, each consumer will be assured of desired service.
Pools are, of course, just one example of a hungry but flexible load.
On-off loads such as water pumps, refrigerators or water heaters require a special kind of intelligence so that they can accurately erase the variability created from renewable generation. Randomization is key to success: To avoid synchronization (we don’t want every pool to switch off at once), the local intelligence includes a specially designed “coin-flip”; each load turns on or off with some probability that depends on its own environment as well as the state of the grid.
It is possible to obtain highly reliable ancillary service to the grid, while maintaining strict bounds on the quality of service delivered by each load. With a smart thermostat, for example, indoor temperature will not deviate by more than one degree if this constraint is desired. Refrigerators will remain cool and reliable, and pools will be free of algae………
Today, about 750,000 homeowners in Florida have signed contracts with utility Florida Power & Light, allowing them to shut down pool pumps and water heaters in case of emergencies. How can we expand on these contracts to engage millions of homeowners and commercial building operators to supply the virtual storage needed? Recent FERC rules that offer payments for ancillary services for balancing the grid are a valuable first step in providing incentives.
It is possible that little incentive is required since we are not subjecting consumers to any loss of comfort: it is the pool or fridge that provides flexibility, and not the homeowner.
A sustainable energy future is possible and inexpensive with a bit of intelligence and flexibility from our appliances. https://theconversation.com/could-one-million-smart-pool-pumps-store-renewable-energy-better-than-giant-batteries-41937
What is certain is that the electricity equation will look very different in a few short years, and it looks like, for the first time in many years, that ordinary consumers will hold a bit more of the power
How home energy storage is going to change the way we think about power, Adelaide Now, CAMERON ENGLAND SUNDAY MAIL (SA) MAY 31, 2015 WHEN Elon Musk launched the Tesla Power Wall earlier this month, it was done in true Silicon Valley style.
The charismatic chief executive enters stage right, sans tie, and makes a pronouncement that his new product will change the world — cue rapturous applause from the audience and because this is the United States, whooping.
The thing about Musk’s pronouncement is that it’s most likely true.
It might not necessarily be his company — critics are divided as to whether Tesla will be the market leader it’s portraying itself as — but home and business energy storage is soon to change the way energy utilities, homes and governments think about power……..
Batteries allow homes and especially businesses to employ “peak shaving” — if power prices spike, flick over to using your own solar power and save money, or if the grid power is cheap, suck it out and sell it back later at a higher price.
Or simply save up the solar power your rooftop panels produce during the day for use in the evening, when your demand might be higher……..
Tesla Power builds on the Tesla Motors technology — relatively standard lithium ion batteries with smart software to help them interact with the grid. The initial interest has been huge. The company recently reported early orders of 50,000 to 60,000 batteries, or as Musk put it, “It’s like crazy off-the-hook”.
Effectively the company is sold out until the middle of next year and its huge new factory will not be big enough to keep up with demand.
At $US3000 for the battery and $US7000 installed with solar panels (US prices) the system makes it economic for houses to become much less dependent on grid power.
UBS estimates that in Australia, the system would pay itself back in six years.
But Tesla is not the only game in town — although it almost certainly has the best PR machine. Continue reading
in sum – cheaper, more easily available energy storage helps at the scale of the power grid, and also at the level of our homes, to further advantage cleaner, renewable energy. So if the economics of storage are finally starting to line up – and its business side to ramp up – that can only be good news for the planet.
Tesla’s battery announcement shows the coming revolution in energy storage, Sydney Morning Herald May 2, 2015 Chris Mooney “……Tesla announced that it is offering a home battery product, which people can use to store energy from their solar panels or to back-up their homes against blackouts, and also larger scale versions that could perform similar roles for companies or even parts of the grid.
For homeowners, the Tesla Powerwall will have a power capacity of either 10 kilowatt hours or 7 kilowatt hours, at a cost of either $US3500 or $US3000………
Tesla isn’t the only company in the battery game, and whatever happens with Tesla, this market is expected to grow. A study by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association earlier this year found that while storage remains relatively niche – the market was sized at just $US128 million in 2014 – it also grew 40 per cent last year, and three times as many installations are expected this year.
By 2019, GTM Research forecasts, the overall market will have reached a size of $US1.5 billion.
“The trend is more and more players being interested in the storage market,” says GTM Research’s Ravi Manghani. Tesla, he says, has two unique advantages – it is building a massive battery-making “gigafactory” which should drive down prices, and it is partnered with solar installer Solar City (Musk is Solar City’s chairman), which “gives Tesla access to a bigger pool of customers, both residential and commercial, who are looking to deploy storage with or without solar.”
The major upshot of more and cheaper batteries and much more widespread energy storage could, in the long term, be a true energy revolution – as well as a much greener planet. Here are just a few ways that storage can dramatically change – and green – the way we get power: Continue reading
Tesla Motors, maker of the Model S supercar and soon to be launched Model X, announced its Powerwall home electricity storage solution under the Tesla Energy brand this week. There will be two available units of 7 kilowatt-hour and 10kwh capacity offered at $3,000 and $3,500 respectively. They can also be stacked for homeowners who wish to store more energy.
So as not to leave commercial customers out in the dark, Tesla Energy will also offer the Powerpack.
Tesla Moves to Make Renewable Energy More Viable http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-roth/tesla-moves-to-make-renew_b_7190196.html 05/01/2015 Imagine a world in which all our energy needs comes from clean, renewable sources. Every building could be covered and powered by solar panels. Transportation could be provided by electric vehicles. Clean and free electricity provided by sun and wind could be used in real time and stored in batteries for later use. Fossil fuels could be regulated to the fuel of last resort. It may not be the stuff of science fiction any longer. If Tesla CEO Elon Musk has his way, this is the future we are headed towards.
Solar and wind energy have long been attractive renewable energy sources. Once the photovoltaic panels and wind turbines are manufactured, they can create many years of electricity with zero harmful emissions and little if any maintenance. In recent years the cost of solar has plummeted, leaving it on par with fossil fuels. The problem however has been in the less than constant ability of renewables to create electricity. Solar cannot produce as much electricity in inclement weather or any at night. Wind is intermittent. Also, unlike more conventional fossil fuel burning power plants, capacity cannot always be increased during peak periods of need.
In order for solar and wind-generated power to be more than energy grid add-ons, they need to have a way to store their energy for use during off-peak or low production periods. Batteries are the best way to store energy during periods of peak production to be used later. However, no major company has offered an easily-scalable battery storage solution to meet these needs – until now. Continue reading
This new Tesla battery will power your home, and maybe the electric grid too, WP, By Brian Fung February 12 Tesla is working on a battery that can power your home and even help large-scale utilities store energy more efficiently, according to company chief executive Elon Musk.
On an investor call Wednesday, Musk said the designs for a home or business battery are already complete and will likely be unveiled to the public “in the next month or two.” Production could be as little as six months away, he added…..
Tesla’s battery and charging technology could ultimately wind up saving you money on your electric bill. Although many of today’s homes draw energy directly from the electricity grid, the spread of cheap solar panels means it’s never been easier to generate some of your own energy. Storing renewables efficiently has been a big bottleneck for consumers and for utilities alike, but if Tesla’s stationary battery takes off, it could change the way electricity is priced and traded on a market scale…….http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/02/12/this-new-tesla-battery-will-power-your-home-and-maybe-the-electric-grid-too/?tid=pm_business_pop
Project review: 2014 CESA installations, Part I, Renewable Energy Focus 09 January 2015 Reg Tucker
Biennial program recognizes outstanding state and municipal programs that have accelerated the adoption of clean energy technologies. Part I of this series provides a sampling of a few case studies behind the award-winning projects and initiatives.
The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), a national, nonprofit coalition of public agencies working together to advance clean energy, recently announced the recipients of the 2014 State Leadership in Clean Energy Awards. According to CESA, the winning programs exemplify the ground-breaking work being done by states and municipalities in the arena of clean energy development and deployment.The programs nominated for these awards were submitted by state and municipal clean energy agencies from across the country. The entries were reviewed by a team of distinguished, independent judges and were scored based on public benefits and results, cost effectiveness, leadership and innovation and the ability to replicate.
- The Alaska Energy Authority and the Kodiak Energy Association for Kodiak, Alaska: A 99% Renewable Energy Community………
Project #1: Alaska Energy Authority/KEAAlaska’s Renewable Energy Fund, managed by the Alaska Energy Authority, has catalyzed a movement towards renewable energy across Alaska by funding 277 renewable energy grants totaling $250 million over the past seven years. With support from the Fund, strong local leadership, and hard work, the Kodiak Electric Association (KEA) has achieved more than 99 per cent renewable energy electric generation. KEA has developed a renewable energy grid that includes hydro power, wind, and battery storage technologies.Alaska’s Renewable Energy Fund has made it possible for communities and villages across the state to study their renewable energy resources, conduct proper engineering designs for those projects that are economically and technically feasible, and construct their projects for the greatest public benefit possible. In the case of Kodiak Electric, which serves about 6,300 people on Kodiak Island, prior to the Renewable Energy Fund’s start in 2008, KEA generated approximately 60 per cent of its electricity from hydro power and 40 per cent from diesel.
Through multiple successful applications to the Renewable Energy Fund, KEA was able to conduct feasibility studies, design, permit, and construct two phases of wind development, adding six 1.5MW turbines on Pillar Mountain, just above the City of Kodiak. During phase two of the project, KEA added two 1.5MW (1MWhr) battery storage systems that provide 30 to90 seconds of bridging power to allow ramping up of output of a nearby hydroelectric system at times when the wind output decreases rapidly.
The addition of the battery systems has allowed the wind to be used without curtailment, and it allows more water to be stored at the hydro facility during times when the wind blows. Additionally, and with the financial support of the Renewable Energy Fund, a third hydroelectric turbine was added to the existing Terror Lake powerhouse to increase output by an additional 13.8 MW. Since the end of 2013, KEA has been able to shut off the diesel generators and allow the battery/hydro mix to fulfill their spinning reserve requirement. They also have enough hydro redundancy to allow for maintenance of hydro turbines without burning diesel fuel to generate power. For the first nine months of 2014, KEA generated 99.7 per cent of its power from renewable energy, resulting in significantly lower energy costs for the community by reducing its diesel fuel purchases to nearly zero.KEA estimates that it saved its small community about $13 million in reduced fuel costs through the end of 2013. Over $4 million per year is now saved by the community, to the benefit of residents, seafood processors, the Coast Guard Base, and all other electrical customers. It has also cut diesel emissions to zero except for a few hours per year, resulting in cleaner local air and dramatically reduced greenhouse gas emissions…………http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/41059/project-review-2014-cesa-installations-part-i/
Storage is here’: Solar-plus-storage market will surpass $1B by 2018, Utility Dive By Robert Walton | December 17, 2014 10% of new commercial solar customers will pair their installations with storage by 2018, according to research published Thursday morning by GTM Research. Spurred by falling battery prices, the solar-plus-storage market will surpass $1 billion that year,………
New rechargeable ‘solar battery ‘promises to revolutionize solar technology By Daily Digest News October 04, 2014 Scientists from Ohio State University invented a revolutionary breakthrough green energy technology that has the chance to upend the solar power industry.
Led by Professor Yiying Wu, scientists created a solar cell that also doubles as a rechargeable battery– the first combined device of its type.
“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device.”…….
By combining both the generation and storage processes, Wu and his team have been able to drastically reduce lost potential, saving nearly 100 percent of the electrons produced.
“Any time you can do that, you reduce cost,” said Wu.
The team estimates that their device brings down costs by 25 percent, which would be a significant boon to the solar energy industry.
Costs and innefficiency are the two factors consumers often point to that inhibits solar energy usage compared to traditional fossil fuel sources.
The team filed for a patent on the solar battery, and plans to license it to the broader energy industry for sale and distribution.http://dailydigestnews.com/2014/10/new-rechargeable-solar-battery-promises-to-revolutionize-solar-technology/
Is Storage Necessary for Renewable Energy? (includes videos) Engineering .com Tom Lombardo August 17, 2014 Physicist and energy expert Amory Lovins, chief scientist at The Rocky Mountain Institute, recently released a video in which he claims that renewable energy can meet all of our energy needs without the need for a fossil fuel or nuclear baseload generation. There’s nothing unusual about that – many people have made that claim – but he also suggests that this can be done without a lot of grid-level storage. Instead, Lovins describes a “choreography” between supply and demand, using predictive computer models models to anticipate production and consumption, and intelligent routing to deliver power where it’s needed. This “energy dance,” combined with advances in energy efficiency, will allow us to meet all of our energy needs without sacrificing reliability.
Electricity’s inevitable renewables revolution, Eco Business, 5 June 14 “…..Disruption in store Storage multiplies the value of renewable electricity thereby increasing demand, which in turn will create a positive feedback for more storage. Disruption of incumbent business models and energy markets is likely to increase as innovation drives down storage costs. Widespread storage, such as batteries, will transform renewable electricity in two ways. One, allow consumers to use renewable electricity power when they need it most, not just when the sun shines or the wind blows. Two, provide consumers and entrepreneurs with the capability to make and trade electricity without conventional utilities. Storage highlights the profound physical differences between renewable energy and conventional energy. To simplify, conventional energy, be it ore, oil or gas, is a concentrated finite stock flowing at a rate set by how much we spend on digging and drilling. Renewable energy, like solar radiation and wind, streams freely and diffuses at variable rates ultimately set by the sun. Those characteristics mean swapping out gas-turbine generators for solar modules or wind turbines watt-for-watt would result in lower electricity output. Thus, to replace 4.2 terawatts of carbon power plants, and meet rising electricity demand, will take several times as much capacity in terms of generators using solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. However, capital costs, which as noted are falling, for renewables are offset by zero fuel costs over the operating lifetime and zero emissions which avoid social costs of harm to health, climate and ecosystems. Such costs are harming households and firms alike, triggering shifts in perceptions which favour the characteristics of renewable electricity and distributed generation. Already, the increasing competitiveness and preference for renewable energy has hit conventional utilities, contributing to losses of €500 billion in Europe in recent years. David Crane, chief executive of America’s top power producer NRG, warns conventional utilities face irrelevance. Their future looks difficult. They must switch to renewable energy and simultaneously compete against the expanding army of millions of people turning their homes and firms into power producers. Civic groups and cooperatives are acting locally to bankroll renewable power or take over grids in communities across Europe and the US.http://www.eco-business.com/opinion/electricitys-inevitable-renewable-revolution/
Breakthrough could help solve solar power’s biggest problem: Power generation at night Extreme Tech, By Joel Hruska on April 16, 2014
One of the most fundamental barriers to the widespread adoption of renewable energy has been the inconvenient truth of planetary rotation. Solar power has advanced enormously over the past few decades but panel efficiency and solar concentration plants are of limited assistance when Apollo is busy elsewhere on the Earth. Now, researchers think they’ve found a partial solution to that problem by combining the known properties of one substance with everyone’s favorite technological advance: carbon nanotubes……….
What’s needed is a simple method of converting energy gathered during the day into a resource that can be tapped at night — and Timothy Kucharski, a post-doc at MIT and Harvard, thinks his team has found it.
Of photoswitches and nanotubes
Kucharski’s work is based on the well-known properties of azobenzenes. These are molecules, dubbed photoswitches, that have one particular molecular configuration by default but, when struck by certain frequencies of ultraviolet light, assume a new configuration, as shown below. (diagrams) ……..
The goal would be to create a short-term thermal battery that could be used to power a stove or other heat sources during the night after charging all day. A gravity system would be simple, with few moving parts. The long-term goal is to create a system that could be used to provide thermal power for entire buildings and to further increase efficiency.
While it’s not a full-scale solar battery, discoveries like this could make solar power far more useful in developing nations, which still rely primarily on wood or peat for cooking fuel. http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/180697-breakthrough-could-help-solve-solars-biggest-problem
Startup Thinks Its Battery Will Solve Renewable Energy’s Big Flaw, Technology Review, By Kevin Bullis on January 23, 2014 Aquion has started production of a low-cost sodium-ion battery aimed at making renewable energy viable. A former Sony TV factory near Pittsburgh is coming to life again after lying idle for four years. Whirring robotic arms have started to assemble a new kind of battery that could make the grid more efficient and let villages run on solar power around the clock.
Aquion, the startup that developed the battery, has finished installing its first commercial-scale production line at the factory, and is sending out batteries for customers to evaluate. It recently raised $55 million of venture capital funding from investors including Bill Gates. The money will help it ramp up to full-speed production by this spring…….
Most importantly, by providing an affordable way to store solar power for use at night or during cloudy weather, the technology could allow isolated populations to get electricity from renewable energy, rather than from polluting diesel generators. Combining solar power and inexpensive batteries would also be cheaper than running diesel generators in places where delivering fuel is expensive (see “How Solar-Based Microgrids Could Bring Power to Millions”).
The batteries could allow the grid to accommodate greater amounts of intermittent renewable energy. As Aquion scales up production and brings down costs, the batteries could also be used instead of a type of natural gas power plant—called a peaker plant—often used to balance supply and demand on the grid. When recharged using renewables, the batteries don’t need fuel, so they’re cleaner than the natural gas power plants…….
The battery is made of inexpensive materials including manganese oxide and water. In concept, it operates much like a lithium-ion battery, in which lithium ions shuttle between electrodes to create electrical current. But the new battery uses sodium ions instead of lithium ones, which makes it possible to use a salt water electrolyte instead of the more expensive—and flammable—electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries.http://www.technologyreview.com/news/523391/startup-thinks-its-battery-will-solve-renewable-energys-big-flaw/
Hitachi Announces Storage Technology for Renewable Energy Bloomberg, By Brian Wingfield – Dec 2, 2013 Hitachi Ltd. (6501) unveiled an energy-storage system that the company said will support wind and solar power and allow users to sell electricity into deregulated markets such as California.
The units can be installed on high-voltage power lines, and will be able to capture excess energy produced by wind and solar sources so it can be sold back into the network when the demand for power exceeds the supply. The systems, which include telecommunications and lithium-ion battery technologies developed by Tokyo-based Hitachi, will also minimize volatility on the power grid, company officials said today at a press conference in Washington.
“As the use of renewable energy expands, stabilization has become a very important priority,” Masaaki Nomoto, general manager for the company’s transmission and distribution systems division, said through a translator. He said the potential customers for the technology will include anyone who wants to sell power into the market, not just utilities……http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-02/hitachi-announces-storage-technology-for-renewable-energy.html
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