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Renewable Energy: The Decentralized Grid Comes to California Apartment Complexes

The Decentralized Grid Comes to California Apartment Complexes,  Inside Clean Energy:  BY DAN GEARINO – 4 Sep 20, One of the ways to make the electricity grid more reliable is to make it less centralized, with buildings capable of producing and storing their own electricity.

And one of the most interesting companies working to make this happen has a big new project in California. Sonnen, with global headquarters in Germany, is working with a property developer and manager to provide energy storage systems in 3,000 apartment units in California.

The project covers seven apartment complexes in locations all over the state, all run by The Wasatch Group of Utah.

This is a form of virtual power plant, something I write about whenever I get the chance because I see this as a potentially groundbreaking way to make the whole electricity grid cleaner and more reliable.

Sonnen and Wasatch say this is the largest virtual power plant in the country that is exclusively based in apartment communities, with battery capacity of 24 megawatts.

The apartment complexes will use rooftop solar to fuel the battery storage systems. In addition to providing backup power for residents during blackouts—a big selling point in California, where utilities have carried out planned blackouts because of heat or wildfire risks—the batteries will be able to work in tandem to ramp up and provide all the power for the apartments when the wider grid is under stress.

This has financial benefits, saving on electricity purchases from the utility at the times with the highest prices, and it helps to make the grid more stable for everyone by leaving more electricity on it for use by others.

“This community is actually a blueprint for all society,” said Blake Richetta, chairman and CEO of sonnen Inc. USA, the German company’s U.S. subsidiary, which is based in Atlanta. “If you’re trying to create a system for us to eliminate fossil fuels from electricity production in the future, you can’t achieve it without this sort of blueprint.”

He means that virtual power plants can reduce the need for fossil fuel plants that only operate at times of peak demand, which are some of the dirtiest plants on the market.

The project adds to The Wasatch Group’s track record of doing interesting energy projects at its properties. The company also worked with sonnen to develop a 600-unit virtual power plant at an apartment complex near Salt Lake City………. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/02092020/inside-clean-energy-nuclear-illinois-ohio

September 5, 2020 Posted by | decentralised | Leave a comment

Minigrids – the clean energy revolution across Africa and Asia

The little-known clean energy revolution    https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/renewable/the-little-known-clean-energy-revolution/77742430  

There are about 5,500 mini-grids in operation across 12 countries in Africa and Asia, according to The State of the Global Mini-grids Market Report 2020 published by the international non-governmental organization Sustainable Energy for All and BloombergNEF, Bloomberg, August 26, 2020,  
Over the last decade, the number of people in the world without access to electricity has fallen drastically — from 1.4 billion in 2010 to about 900 million in 2018, according to the United Nations. And yet, if current trends persist, the world won’t be able to meet the UN’s sustainable development goal of universal access to electricity by 2030, with as many as 600 million still lacking basic 21st century services.

It doesn’t have to be so. A new technology has matured and become affordable that could help achieve the laudable goal, and it’s called mini-grids.

As the name suggests, mini-grids are small, isolated versions of larger power grids. They increasingly use solar power as an energy source, with support from batteries or diesel generators. Because the cost of solar power has fallen drastically , mini-grids have become much cheaper than installing long-distance transmission lines from a central electricity grid.

There are about 5,500 mini-grids in operation across 12 countries in Africa and Asia, according to The State of the Global Mini-grids Market Report 2020, published by the international non-governmental organization Sustainable Energy for All and BloombergNEF earlier this year. The report’s authors found that mini-grids could meet the needs of half the people who still need access to electricity in those regions.

As the name suggests, mini-grids are small, isolated versions of larger power grids. They increasingly use solar power as an energy source, with support from batteries or diesel generators. Because the cost of solar power has fallen drastically , mini-grids have become much cheaper than installing long-distance transmission lines from a central electricity grid.

There are about 5,500 mini-grids in operation across 12 countries in Africa and Asia, according to The State of the Global Mini-grids Market Report 2020, published by the international non-governmental organization Sustainable Energy for All and BloombergNEF earlier this year. The report’s authors found that mini-grids could meet the needs of half the people who still need access to electricity in those regions.

Universal power access will require $128 billion of spending, the report found, but the world is on track to spend only about $63 billion on mini-grids over the next decade. Plugging the gap would cost less than $600 per target household reached.

The need goes beyond money. “Today the mini-grid market is nascent, despite being the least-cost option for electricity access in many areas,” the report concludes. The international Mini-Grids Partnership, which includes the World Bank and other development agencies from rich countries, has approved $2 billion in awards since 2012 but only disbursed 13% of the money, with many projects stuck because of policy uncertainties.

That’s no surprise. Countries where mini-grids will be most useful, such as in India, Uganda or the Philippines, suffer from corruption, bad policies, weak regulatory enforcement, red tape, or a combination of all four. “Fortunately, a small number of countries are setting up clear frameworks designed to expand the mini-grid market, and are attracting private sector interest,” the report says.
Nigeria is a prime example, says Amar Vasdev, an analyst with BNEF. “Nigeria learned lessons from what worked and what didn’t work in Tanzania and Rwanda.”

Africa’s most populous country struggles to provide electricity to its 200 million people. Only 55% of the country has access to electricity, and even there, people suffer from power cuts lasting between four and 15 hours every day. As a result, the country spends more than $16 billion annually to power diesel generators.

In 2017, the country passed a law to help mini-grid development, which streamlines the online application process, offers $350 in government subsidies per user once grids with more than 30 users are up and running, and provides for compensation if the main power grid eventually arrives in an area served by a mini-grid. Developers in Nigeria now have simpler processes and clearer guidelines to follow.

The upshot is that mini-grids have become a much more attractive investment. “Now you see a lot of companies flocking to Nigeria,” says Ruchi Soni, program manager at Sustainable Energy for All. “We hear from partners that they would like to replicate Nigeria’s success in their country.”

This offshoot of the clean energy revolution has three benefits: mini-grids can help provide access to electricity to those who lack it and do so in a cleaner and cheaper way. Few things in life are win-win-win.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, ASIA, decentralised | Leave a comment

Installing solar PV can increase house prices by an average of £32,459 across the UK.

Solar Power Portal 21st Aug 2020, The value of residential solar has been touted after new research revealed
that the technology can boost the value of houses by over £30,000. The
research comes from EffectiveHome.co.uk, a website dedicated to providing
information and guidance for homeowners regarding solar. It found that
installing solar PV can increase house prices by an average of £32,459
across the UK. Houses in London see the biggest increase, with the value
jumping by £90,000. The country’s capital therefore has the largest
increase in value of the ten largest cities in the UK, followed by Bristol
(£45,142), Edinburgh (£40,095) and Leicester (£31,577).

https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/residential_solar_boosts_house_prices_by_average_of_30000

August 23, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

EDF nuclear power company looks to a profitable future in small-scale, distributed RENEWABLE energy

Can EDF Make Big Money in Small-Scale Renewables?, Greentech Media

The world’s leading nuclear power generator is betting big on a future of small-scale, distributed energy.

KARL-ERIK STROMSTA APRIL 22, 2020 THE WORLD’S LEADING NUCLEAR POWER GENERATOR IS BETTING BIG ON A FUTURE OF SMALL-SCALE, DISTRIBUTED ENERGY.

Électricité de France operates 58 nuclear reactors in its home country and owns stakes in several U.S. nuclear plants that it’s now moving to sell. But EDF’s biggest stamp on the American power market has come in large-scale renewables: Its San Diego-based EDF Renewables North America subsidiary has developed and now operates gigawatts of wind and solar farms across the country.

Now, EDF Renewables is trying to replicate that success on a much smaller scale. How it fares in the distributed space will be of great interest to other 20th-century energy giants feeling their way toward a transformed, low-carbon future.

Over the past few years, and largely through acquisitions, EDF Renewables has amassed one of the most comprehensive U.S. distributed energy businesses, covering solar, energy storage, microgrids and electric vehicle chargers.

The coronavirus crisis may open the door to more dealmaking, said Raphael Declercq, who runs the Distributed Solutions unit at EDF Renewables North America. “There will be some casualties in our sector: Assets seemed overpriced up to a month ago; that may change and we may be able to grow through acquisitions,” Declercq told GTM.

Several European energy giants have been on a recent shopping spree for distributed energy companies in the startup-rich U.S. — notably Shell, EDF and Enel. Without their own U.S.-based utilities to worry about taking business from, they can roll up fleets of behind-the-meter energy assets and deliver power to customers in new ways, while learning lessons that can be applied in other markets.

“It’s a grab game right now, getting as much of that value chain as possible,” said Elta Kolo, content lead for grid edge research at Wood Mackenzie. “In a way, you’re almost seeing a new type of utility emerging in the market,” she said.

It’s a hazardous moment for the energy industry, oil companies and utilities alike. State-controlled EDF last week pulled its financial guidance for 2020 and 2021, saying it expects a sharp drop in its French nuclear output this year as the coronavirus outbreak depresses power demand…….

The rising importance of corporate renewables…….

A common thread runs through EDF Renewables’ businesses these days: the growing importance of corporate customers. In many markets around the world, and nowhere more so than the U.S., corporations are increasingly going around traditional utilities to buy clean power and energy services directly. ……..https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/can-edf-make-big-money-in-small-scale-renewables

April 23, 2020 Posted by | decentralised, France, USA | Leave a comment

UK Labour party has accused the government of “actively dismantling” the UK’s solar power industry

Guardian 5th June 2019 The Labour party has accused the government of “actively dismantling”
the UK’s solar power industry after new installations by households
collapsed by 94% last month. Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business
secretary, used prime minister’s questions to challenge the
government’s record on climate action after scrapping subsidies for
domestic solar panels from April. Standing in for Jeremy Corbyn,
Long-Bailey said solar power had the potential to cut household bills and
carbon emissions while creating thousands of jobs. “But the government,
for some reason, appears to be determined to kill it off, while continuing
to cheerlead for fracking,” she said. (NB – story by Jillian Ambrose
who has moved from the Telegraph to replace Adam Vaughan at the Guardian).https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/05/home-solar-panel-installations-fall-by-94-as-subsidies-cut

June 8, 2019 Posted by | decentralised, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Solar power has had a “life-changing impact” for Malawi village communities

BBC 21st Jan 2019 The project has helped businesses in Malawi to generate electricity from
solar power. A solar power project to connect villages in Malawi has had a
“life-changing” impact for rural communities.

The initiative, led by Strathclyde University researchers, has seen affordable energy supply
businesses set up in four villages. The partnership, which has been backed
by a £600,000 grant from the Scottish government, ensures locals own and
operate the equipment. It includes battery chargers and power connections
for other small businesses. Only 12% of Malawi’s 18 million population is
connected to the main electricity grid, which dips to 2% in rural areas.
For the vast majority the main energy source is open fires, which puts
pressure on the country’s forests.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk- scotland-glasgow-west-46890999

January 22, 2019 Posted by | decentralised, Malawi | Leave a comment

UK govt’s plan to let down solar householders has not gone down well

Physics World 16th Jan 2019 Dave Elliott: The UK government’s plan to abandon the feed-in tariff
(FIT) system for small renewable energy projects did not go down well,
especially since it meant the loss of the export tariff. Householders who
invested in a photovoltaic (PV) array on their roof have used that to
offset the cost of their investment by selling any extra power they
generated at a reasonable rate – 5.24 p/kWh – to their grid supplier.

However, with the FiT, along with the export tariff, to be closed to new
applicants from the end of March, they will get nothing for any exports. In
a parliamentary debate on the FiT in November last year, energy minister
Claire Perry said she aimed to avoid that situation. It certainly looked
unfair and counterproductive.

Claire Perry has now gone ahead with a
consultation on the Government’s proposals for a new market for
electricity export from small-scale PV solar, configured “so that people
are not providing it to the grid for free”. Under the proposed “Smart
Export Guarantee” (SEG), electricity suppliers would pay new small-scale
PV and other energy producers for excess electricity from homes and
businesses put back into the power grid.
https://physicsworld.com/a/after-the-fit/

January 19, 2019 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

‘A new world order’ – boom in renewables, decline of fossil fuels – brings change in world politics

Rise of renewables creating a ‘new world‘: report,  A new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is predicting a new world order as a consequence of the renewables boom. SBS News, 13 Jan 19,  The rapid growth of renewable energy sources and the demise of fossil fuels are causing major changes in global politics, a special commission has said in a report.The shift “will alter the global distribution of power, relations between states, the risk of conflict, and the social, economic and environmental drivers of geopolitical instability,” said the commission set up by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Solar, wind and other renewables, which currently make up around a fifth of global energy production, are growing faster than any other source, the report said.

Commission chairman and former president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar, said the shift will likely cause China to eclipse the United States, place oil-dependent Gulf states at risk and help impoverished African nations achieve energy independence.

“It is difficult to predict when, but this change is happening comprehensively and fast,” Ragnar told AFP.

The report, entitled “A New World”, was launched at IRENA’s ninth general assembly in Abu Dhabi…….

Renewables will be a powerful vehicle of democratisation because they make it possible to decentralise the energy supply.  https://www.sbs.com.au/news/rise-of-renewables-creating-a-new-world-report

January 14, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | Leave a comment

Solar power for 97 Spanish grand hotels

Observer 30th Dec 2018 Spain’s state-owned chain of paradores, the grand hotels often housed in ancient castles and monasteries, has announced that all 97 of its establishments will use only electricity from renewable sources from the start of the new year.

The 90-year-old chain said the decision to switch to green electricity had been made for both environmental and symbolic
reasons. “Paradores is a company that supports sustainable tourism in every sense of the word,” said its chair, Óscar López Águeda. “What’s more, as a public company, we also want to set an example when it comes to investments that encourage energy saving and responsible  consumption.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/30/spain-paradores-solar-power-pledge

December 31, 2018 Posted by | decentralised, Spain | Leave a comment

Residential batteries ready to compete with fossil fuels and nuclear in Germany

Sonnen: Residential batteries ready to compete with fossil fuels and nuclear in Germany Energy Storage, 14 Dec 18 ,  Batteries in private households will be now able to perform the “same tasks as a conventional power plant”, across the whole of Germany, the CEO of Sonnen has said, following a ruling that opens up grid services markets to the company’s devices.

Sonnen last week announced that it has obtained pre-qualification to enter Germany’s Primary Control Reserve market by grid operator TenneT for its battery energy storage units installed across the country. Primary Control Reserve is a form of frequency regulation, keeping the grid to within acceptable boundaries of its optimum 50Hz operating frequency……….

If every solar home in Germany – there are around 1.5 million at present – was equipped with a SonnenBatterie, the power capacity would add up to 4.5GW, with an energy capacity of 15GWh. Such systems, connected to the virtual battery, or virtual power plant (VPP), could replace four large thermal power plants, equivalent to the entire capacity currently being used for PCR across the entire European continent.

The possibility for scaling up the model, in other words, “is one large step towards a clean and decentralised energy structure,” Ostermann said………https://www.energy-storage.news/news/sonnen-residential-batteries-ready-to-compete-with-fossil-fuels-and-nuclear

December 15, 2018 Posted by | decentralised, energy storage, Germany | Leave a comment

Germany a leading solar power producer, despite its low hours of sunshine

Germany Works (accessed) 9th Dec 2018, Germany has belied its status as a country with the fewest hours of sunshine in the world to become one of the planet’s largest solar power producers.
In 2017, Germany ranked fourth globally and accounted for about 10 per cent of the global installed capacity, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2017, Germany ranked fourth globally and accounted for about 10 per cent of the global installed capacity, according to the International Energy Agency.
This has been achieved by 1.7 million small-scale solar panel operators rather than by big, centralised power producers. These operators produced 9.6 per cent of Germany’s net energy production in the first nine months of 2018, according to research institute Fraunhofer ISE. Further, solar power has become the cheapest mode of power generation in Germany, according to Fraunhofer ISE, which says that equipment and installation costs fell by 75 per cent between 2006 and 2017.
https://germanyworks.ft.com/energy/german-solar-power-is-a-sunrise-market/

December 11, 2018 Posted by | decentralised, Germany | Leave a comment

Cheap flexibility from storage, demand-side response and distributed renewable energy generation poses a “huge threat” to the nuclear industry

‘Cheap as chips’ flexibility poses ‘huge threat’ to nuclear,  https://utilityweek.co.uk/cheap-chips-flexibility-poses-huge-threat-nuclear/ 12/10/2018  Cheap flexibility from storage, demand-side response and distributed generation poses a “huge threat” to the nuclear industry, according to former energy secretary Ed Davey.

 Tom Grimwood  Speaking at a conference held by Aurora Energy Research in London yesterday (11 October), Davey said the falling costs of such technologies raise “serious questions” about the government’s pursuit of new nuclear plants.“There’s no doubt storage and flexibility pose a huge threat to nuclear industry,” he told the audience.  “Nukes are expensive; take a hell of a long time to build. In ten years, where are we going to be with storage and flexibility?

“I think it’s going to be cheap as chips and have variations we don’t even know about today, because so much is evolving. The energy revolution is going apace.”

“That has to ask serious questions of the nuclear strategy which the government is pursuing”.

Davey hailed the government and Ofgem’s smart systems and flexibility plan as the “best thing” he’d seen in terms of policy since leaving office in 2015.

However, he added: “I don’t see much movement. And I’m not saying it’s because it’s easy… But we really need to be moving forward on that to give people better markets and contracts that are more investible… I think we could do a lot better.”

He continued: “If you had better policy you might be able to answer this question of do we keep a big centralised system, investing in lots of big centralised assets, or do we have more of a hybrid system.

“And we’ve gone to a hybrid system a little bit without thinking it all through but for good reasons. Solar took off much quicker than people thought, for example, and the capacity brought on peakers which weren’t really in the picture.

“We’ve now got that hybrid system and my worry is no one’s really thinking that through strategically.”

Davey also raised concerns over the influence of large generators on policy and regulatory decisions: “My worry is that the lobbying power of the big centralised generators… is a bit bigger than those of us who think a lot of the future is in the decentralised sector.

“If I have political message to people, it’s to really think that through because I think we’ve seen in some of the network code debates and elsewhere a politics which is very much in favour of centralised generators.”

Speaking to Utility Week in early 2017, the chief executive of UK Power Reserve, Tim Emrich, accused the Connection and Use of System panel of being unduly influenced by incumbents after the industry body recommended drastic cuts to the triad avoidance payments available to small-scale distributed generators.

The changes were approved by Ofgem later in the yearhttps://utilityweek.co.uk/cheap-chips-flexibility-poses-huge-threat-nuclear/

October 13, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised, energy storage | Leave a comment

France’s push for solar rooftops

Reuters 27th Sept 2018,  French Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy has approved 392 rooftop solar
power projects with a total capacity of 230 megawatts (MW) under a plan
launched in 2016 to develop 1,450 MW of solar capacity within three years.
France wants to develop more wind, solar and other low-carbon energy
sources to cut its dependence on nuclear energy power, which currently
counts for over 75 percent of its needs.
https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-france-solarpower/france-approves-230-mw-of-rooftop-solar-projects-idUKKCN1M71KO?rpc=401&

September 29, 2018 Posted by | decentralised, France | Leave a comment

‘Spinning’O-Wind Turbine captures wind from any direction

O-Wind Turbine: James Dyson Award National UK Winner

Groundbreaking ‘spinning’ wind turbine wins UK Dyson award, Guardian, Rebecca Smithers, Consumer affairs correspondent, 5 Sep 2018 

The O-Wind Turbine captures wind from any direction and, unlike traditional turbines, could be effective in cities A ‘spinning’ turbine which can capture wind travelling in any direction and could transform how consumers generate electricity has won its two student designers a prestigious James Dyson award.

Nicolas Orellana, 36, and Yaseen Noorani, 24, both MSc students at Lancaster University, have created the O-Wind Turbine which – in a technological first – takes advantage of both horizontal and vertical winds without requiring steering.

Conventional wind turbines only capture wind travelling in one direction, and are notoriously inefficient in cities where wind trapped between buildings becomes unpredictable, making the turbines unusable…….

A ‘spinning’ turbine which can capture wind travelling in any direction and could transform how consumers generate electricity has won its two student designers a prestigious James Dyson award.

Nicolas Orellana, 36, and Yaseen Noorani, 24, both MSc students at Lancaster University, have created the O-Wind Turbine which – in a technological first – takes advantage of both horizontal and vertical winds without requiring steering.

Conventional wind turbines only capture wind travelling in one direction, and are notoriously inefficient in cities where wind trapped between buildings becomes unpredictable, making the turbines unusable…….


Wind power
 currently generates just 4% of the world’s electricity but it could produce up to 40 times the amount of electricity consumed, Noorani said.

The duo’s invention will now be entered into the international running for the final leg of the James Dyson award in November, which will give the overall worldwide winner a further £30,000 in prize money.

The award operates in 27 countries, and is open to university level students and recent graduates studying product design, industrial design and engineering. It recognises and rewards imaginative design solutions to global problems with the environment in mind. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/05/groundbreaking-spinning-wind-turbine-wins-uk-dyson-award

September 5, 2018 Posted by | decentralised | Leave a comment

Renewable energy systems set to go ahead with new technology enhancing flexibility

Chatham House 22nd Aug 2018  Electricity Markets**  As renewables become a large share of the global energy mix, greater  electricity system flexibility will be critical and will originate from the
small scale, write Daniel Quiggin and Antony Froggatt.
The International Energy Agency forecasts that ‘solar PV and onshore wind together
represent 75 per cent of global renewable electricity capacity growth over
the medium-term’. Bloomberg New Energy Finance also estimates that by
2040, nearly three-quarters of the $10.2 trillion invested in new
power-generating capacity will be in renewables.
While this renewables rollout is a key part of global climate policy, the challenge is that the
costs associated with managing the system start to escalate once renewables
exceed a 30 per cent share of generated electricity. Unless properly
planned for, the growth in electric vehicle use and electric heating could
further amplify these ‘system integration costs’. They include the cost
of holding fossil fuel power plants in reserve for periods of low renewable
supply, grid upgrades and the dumping of power from renewables when system
constraints are reached.
So, as renewable energy pushes beyond 30 per cent,
and as a growing number of cars and domestic-heating systems begin to add
to power usage, how can governments ensure electricity is affordable? The
answer is ‘flexibility’. A raft of technologies already entering the
market, promise to radically enhance the flexibility of electricity
systems, helping contain system integration costs while accelerating the
low-carbon transition.
https://hoffmanncentre.chathamhouse.org/article/decentralised-flexibility/

August 26, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | Leave a comment