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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Tesla starts mass production of solar battery cells

Tesla Flips the Switch on the Gigafactory Musk meets a deadline: Battery-cell production begins at what will soon be the world’s biggest factory—with thousands of additional jobs. Bloomberg, by Tom Randall January 5, 2017 The Gigafactory has been activated.

Tesla’s solar roofs could revolutionize the industry

Hidden in the scrubland east of Reno, Nev., where cowboys gamble and wild horses still roam—a diamond-shaped factory of outlandish proportions is emerging from the sweat and promises of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It’s known as the Gigafactory, and today its first battery cells are rolling off production lines to power the company’s energy storage products and, before long, the Model 3 electric car. 1

The start of mass production 2 is a huge milestone in Tesla’s quest to electrify transportation, and it brings to America a manufacturing industry—battery cells—that’s long been dominated by China, Japan, and South Korea. More than 2,900 people are already working at the 4.9 million square-foot facility, 3 and more than 4,000 jobs (including temporary construction work) will be added this year through the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic. 4

By 2018, the Gigafactory, which is less than a third complete, will double the world’s production capacity for lithium-ion batteries and employ 6,500 full-time Reno-based workers, according to a new hiring forecast from Tesla. The company’s shares, having touched their highest point since August, closed up $10 at $226.99 in New York trading.

The full activation of the Gigafactory carries existential significance for Tesla, representing a new sense of urgency at a company known for its unreachable deadlines. After missing almost every aggressive product milestone it set for itself over the last decade, Tesla must prove to investors and customers that it can stay on schedule for its first mass-produced car.

There are promising signs. ………

The storage products fit into Musk’s long-term vision of transforming Tesla from an an electric car company to a clean-energy company. That’s the same motivation behind his recently concluded deal to acquire SolarCity Corp., the largest U.S. rooftop solar installer. Last week, Tesla reached a deal with Panasonic to expand its relationship to produce solar cells in Buffalo, N.Y., bringing some 1,400 jobs to the region.

At a time when President-elect Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to skewer manufacturers for moving jobs to Mexico or China, Tesla stands apart as an all-American carmaker, battery maker, and solar producer. About 95 percent of the Model 3’s components will be made in the U.S., and 25,000 of the company’s 30,000 employees are based there. Musk, who visited Trump recently in New York City, was named to a strategy group to advise the new Republican president. ……. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-04/tesla-flips-the-switch-on-the-gigafactory

January 6, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, USA | Leave a comment

Cheap energy storage will change the renewable energy debate

Diagram-energy-storage-1Storage – the missing link NuClear News No 91, Jan 2017  Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts a six-fold increase in investment in energy storage to $8.2bn (£6.7bn) by 2024, and to $250bn (£197bn) by 2040. This massive growth in energy storage will create a “fundamentally different” global power system. This energy storage ‘megashift’ is already beginning to gather pace. The battery market has seen breath-taking levels of growth from utilities over the past 12 months, while non-utilities are increasingly realising that lithium-ion or flow storage systems can act as the perfect accompaniment to onsite renewable energy installation. (11)

Paul Massara, former CEO of RWE nPower, is now CEO of North Star Solar, a new solar PV + battery home energy system start-up. He says that lithium ion batteries for electrical storage are getting cheaper and cheaper, and PV + battery packages are now cost effective in the UK with the right financing package. Cheap, ubiquitous electrical energy storage will lead to a very different world and may change the focus of many of today’s energy policy debates. It is likely to help reduce peak demand, and allow renewables to provide a much higher percentage of electricity demand, especially if they are cheaper than alternative forms of low carbon electricity such as nuclear or fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage. (12)

North Star Solar has set up a joint scheme with the former colliery town of Stanley in Co Durham to offer in-home batteries and solar panels for free to all the town’s 35,000 households. Paul Massara says the combination of rooftop panels, a lithium battery and energy-efficient LED light bulbs will immediately cut power bills by 20%. (13)

The £19m ‘Big Battery’ installed at a sub-station in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire has completed a two-year trial and successfully shown that power storage has the potential to be both technically and commercially viable. (14)

Camden Council has teamed up with Islington and Waltham Forest Councils to deliver a pilot programme to test the potential benefits of solar panels and energy storage systems for residents at risk of fuel poverty. The ’24/7 Solar’ initiative is being part-funded by national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action. The aim of the trial is to see if there is evidence that integrated solar and storage technologies can effectively reduce the energy bills of fuel poor households. (15) Meanwhile in Edinburgh and surrounding towns several housing associations have been working with Sunamp to install solar PV and heat storage ‘batteries’. Surplus solar generated electricity can be diverted to the heat battery and used for hot water or central heating when required later. (16) And in Orkney where renewable energy generators are often curtailed due to the constraints on the distribution of electricity around the Orkney grid, yet fuel poverty levels are at 63%, a new project, launched by Heat Smart Orkney Ltd, is aiming to divert unused renewable energy into affordable heat. (17) The Scottish Government has given a new 400-MW pumped-storage hydro power plant in Dumfriesshire permission to go ahead. (18)

Solar power is expected to be the cheapest form of energy (not just electricity) everywhere in the world by around 2030. Cheap solar panels and advances in storage technology are transforming the world. By 2030 or 2040 solar will be the cheapest way to generate electricity, indeed any form of energy EVERYWHERE. The proportion of global electricity provided by solar is likely to grow from 2% now to at least 50% by 2030. We can see the cost of batteries coming down in price dramatically, but turning surplus solar electricity generating during the summer into something we can put into natural gas networks will probably come soon. Generating hydrogen from water and, using microbes, combining it with carbon dioxide to form methane is the simplest way to do this. (19)

Even offshore wind costs are falling. Swedish utility Vattenfall has agreed to build a giant offshore wind farm in Denmark that would sell power for €49.50 per MWh. Vattenfall has broken its own previous record of €60 per MWh. Once the cost of transmission is included this works out at around £75.50/MWh compared with £100.50/MWh for Hinkley Point C (once inflation has been added to the £92.50 at 2012 prices). (20) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo91.pdf

December 17, 2016 Posted by | energy storage, UK | Leave a comment

2016 a year of rapid progress for renewable energy storage

The industry continues to surpass milestones, fueled by increased value and market opportunities, as well as plummeting system costs,” said Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association. “After record-breaking deployments in 2015, the energy storage industry is on pace to grow another 30 percent this year – increasing grid flexibility, efficiency and resiliency along the way.”
Expect Good Things From The U.S. Energy Storage Industry This Year http://nawindpower.com/expect-good-things-from-the-u-s-energy-storage-industry-this-year by Betsy Lillian on September 09, 2016  According to the latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, a quarterly publication from GTM Research and theEnergy Storage Association (ESA), the U.S. deployed 41.2 MW of energy storage in the second quarter of 2016 – an increase of 126% over the first quarter of the year.

Year over year, energy storage deployments were up just 1%. What the market lacked in annual growth, however, it made up for in geographic and market-segment diversification.

The report says the largest front-of-the-meter project was not deployed in either PJM territory or California, the perennially leading markets, but rather in MISO’s territory in Indiana. In fact, PJM territory and California together accounted for only 35% of the megawatt capacity and 47% of megawatt-hour capacity deployed in the quarter – their lowest contribution in more than three years. The report says that by the end of the year, though, California will reclaim its position as the nation’s top storage market, as several megawatts of storage are slated to be installed in record time to help ease Aliso Canyon-related capacity issues in Southern California.

“This quarter marked several storage firsts, such as the first grid-scale project in MISO and a large solar-plus-storage at a municipal utility in Ohio,” said Ravi Manghani, GTM Research’s director of energy storage. “Additionally, the industry received a big boost from the White House, with recently announced public and private commitments that will result in 1.3 GW of new storage deployments and, more importantly, spur a billion dollars in storage investments.”

Behind-the-meter deployments, which consist of residential and commercial energy storage systems, grew 66% year over year. The report attributes this success to improving economics and adoption in new state markets.

The industry continues to surpass milestones, fueled by increased value and market opportunities, as well as plummeting system costs,” said Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association. “After record-breaking deployments in 2015, the energy storage industry is on pace to grow another 30 percent this year – increasing grid flexibility, efficiency and resiliency along the way.”

According to the report, the U.S. is on track to deploy 287 MW of energy storage this year.

September 10, 2016 Posted by | energy storage, renewable | Leave a comment

Desk sized turbine could be more efficient than batteries for storing energy

 https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601218/desk-size-turbine-could-power-a-town/  GE sees its new turbine as a strong rival to batteries for storing power from the grid. by David Talbot, April 11, 2016  GE Global Research is testing a desk-size turbine that could power a small town of about 10,000 homes. The unit is driven by “supercritical carbon dioxide,” which is in a state that at very high pressure and up to 700 °C exists as neither a liquid nor a gas. After the carbon dioxide passes through the turbine, it’s cooled and then repressurized before returning for another pass.

The unit’s compact size and ability to turn on and off rapidly could make it useful in grid storage. It’s about one-tenth the size of a steam turbine of comparable output, and has the potential to be 50 percent efficient at turning heat into electricity. Steam-based systems are typically in the mid-40 percent range; the improvement is achieved because of the better heat-transfer properties and reduced need for compression in a system that uses supercritical carbon dioxide compared to one that uses steam. The GE prototype is 10 megawatts, but the company hopes to scale it to 33 megawatts.

In addition to being more efficient, the technology could be more nimble—in a grid-storage scenario, heat from solar energy, nuclear power, or combustion could first be stored as molten salt and the heat later used to drive the process.

While such a heat reservoir could also be used to boil water to power a steam turbine, a steam system could take 30 minutes to get cranked up, while a carbon dioxide turbine might take only a minute or two—making it well-suited for on-the-spot power generation needed during peak demand periods.

GE’s system might also be better than huge arrays of batteries. Adding more hours of operation just means having a larger or hotter reservoir of the molten salt, rather than adding additional arrays of giant batteries. “The key thing will come down to economics,” says Doug Hofer, the GE engineer in charge of the project. While there’s work ahead, he says, “at this point we think our economic story is favorable compared to batteries.”

August 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, energy storage | Leave a comment

Implementing storage technologies – necessary in transition from nuclear power

highly-recommendedAs nuclear power plants close, states need to bet big on energy storage Skeptical Science  9 August 2016 by dana1981 Eric Daniel Fournier, Post Doctoral Researcher, Spatial Informatics, University of California, Los Angeles and Alex Ricklefs, Research Analyst in Sustainable Communities, University of California, Los Angeles This article was originally published on The Conversation . Read the original article.

“……due to negative opinion and costly renovations, we are now observing a trend whereby long-running nuclear power plants are shutting down and very few new plants are being scheduled for construction in the United States.

Utilities are moving toward renewable electricity generation, such as solar and wind, partially in response to market forces and partially in response to new regulations that require utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In California, in particular, the shift toward renewable energy for market and environmental reasons, along with the public’s negative perception of nuclear energy, has caused utilities to abandon nuclear power.

While opponents can view the shutdown of nuclear power plants as a health and environmental success, closing nuclear plants intensifies the challenges faced by utilities to meet electricity consumption demand while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint. PG&E, for example, has pledged to increase renewable energy sources and energy efficiency efforts, but this alone will not help them supply their customers with electricity around the clock. What can be used to fill the sizable gap left by Diablo Canyon’s closing?

Solar and wind energy sources are desirable as they produce carbon-free electricity without producing toxic and dangerous waste byproducts. However, they also suffer from the drawback of being able to produce electricity only intermittently throughout the day. Solar energy can be utilized only when the sun is out, and wind speeds vary unpredictably.

In order to meet customer electricity demand at all hours, energy storage technologies, alongside more renewable sources and increased energy efficiency, will be needed.

Enter energy storage

Energy storage has long been touted as the panacea for integrating renewable energy into the grid at large scale. Replacing the power generation left by Diablo Canyon’s closing will require expansive additions to wind and solar. However, more renewable energy generation will require more storage.

There are many different energy storage technologies currently available or in the process of commercialization, but each falls into one of four basic categories: chemical storage as in batteries, kinetic storage such as flywheelsthermal storage and magnetic storage.

The different technologies within each of these category can be characterized and compared in terms of their:

  • power rating: how much electrical current produced
  • energy capacity: how much energy can be stored or discharged, and
  • response time: the minimum amount of time needed to deliver energy. [excellent graphs provided here on original]

The key challenge that utilities are now faced with is how to integrate energy storage technologies for specific power delivery applications at specific locations.

This challenge is further complicated by the electric power transmission system and consumer behaviors that have evolved based on a energy supply system dominated by fossil fuels. Additionally, storage technologies are expensive and still developing, which makes fossil fuel generators look more economically beneficial in the short term.

Implementing storage technologies

Currently in California, energy storage is effectively provided by fossil fuel power plants. These natural gas and coal-powered plants provide steady “baseload” power and can ramp up generation to meet peaks in demand, which generally happen in the afternoon and early evening.

A single energy storage device cannot directly replace the capacity potential of these fossil fuel sources, which can generate high rates of power as long as needed.

The inability to perform a like-for-like replacement means that a more diversified portfolio strategy toward energy storage must be adopted in order to make a smooth transition to a lower carbon energy future. Such balanced energy storage portfolio would necessarily consist of some combination of:

  • short-duration energy storage systems that are capable of maintaining power quality by meeting localized spikes in peak demand and buffering short term supply fluctuations. These could include supercapacitors, batteries and flywheels that can supply bursts of power quickly.
  • Lower speed energy storage that can supply a lot of power and store a lot of energy. These systems, such as pumped hydro and thermal storage with concentrated solar power, are capable of shifting the seasonality of solar production and servicing the unique power requirements for large scale or sensitive power users in the commercial and industrial sectors.

This set of storage technologies would have to be linked up in a kind of chain, nested and tiered by end use, location and integration into the grid. Additionally, management systems will be needed to control how the storage technologies interact with the grid.

Currently without sufficient energy storage in place, utilities now use natural gas to fill in the gaps in electricity supply from renewable sources. Utilities use “peaker” plants, which are natural gas-fueled plants that can turn generation up or down to meet electricity demand, such as when solar output dips in the late afternoon and evening, while producing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

With natural gas consumption for electricity generation on the rise, would it be better to keep nuclear power while energy storage technologies mature? Although less polluting than coal, natural gas produces greenhouse gas emissions and has the potential to causeenvironmentally dangerous leaks, as seen in Aliso Canyon.

With nuclear, it is still not clear what to do with nuclear waste, and the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 highlights how catastrophically dangerous nuclear power plants can be.

Regardless of which situation you believe is best, it is clear that energy storage is the major limitation to achieving a carbon-free electricity grid.

California’s commitment to renewable energy sources has helped shift the state to using less fossil fuels and emitting less greenhouse gases. However, careful planning is needed to ensure that energy storage systems are installed to take over the baseline load duties currently held by natural gas and nuclear power, as renewables and energy efficiency may not be able to carry the burden.

August 12, 2016 Posted by | energy storage, USA | Leave a comment

A disruptive technology: Elon Musk’s energy master plan

Sophie Vorrath: Musk’s energy master plan: Is this the beginning of the end of the utility? July 27, 2016. When Elon Musk published part 2 of his Tesla Masterplan last week, it was his vision of a future where cars from a huge shared fleet of driverless electric vehicles could be summoned by the touch of a mobile phone app that dominated headlines.

But Musk’s vision for a world of energy self-sufficient households with solar and battery storage was equally ambitious – and threatens to be as disruptive to the world’s electricity industry as his autonomous shared vehicle plan could be to the automotive industry, not to mention Uber.  http://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/musks-energy-master-plan-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-the-utility/

 

July 28, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised, energy storage | Leave a comment

Electricity system being reshaped by solar energy, batteries and electric cars

Will solar, batteries and electric cars re-shape the electricity system?, UBS, 20 July 16, 

 Batteries and solar at the tipping point: Electricity users will become generators Solar systems and batteries will be disruptive technologies for the electricity system. Steeply declining battery and solar system costs will enable multiple new applications. In this note, we focus on the impact on the utilities and auto sectors. Our proprietary model suggests a payback time as low as 6-8 years for a combined EV + solar + battery investment by 2020 – unsubsidised. We see Europe, and in particular Germany, Italy and Spain, leading this paradigm shift due to high fuel and retail electricity prices.

EVs entering the mass market, battery demand could grow exponentially We forecast a c10% EV and plug-in hybrid penetration in Europe by 2025. While the initial growth should predominantly be driven by incentives and carbon regulation, the entry into the mass market should happen because EVs will pay off. The expected rapid decline in battery cost by >50% by 2020 should not just spur EV sales, but also lead to exponential growth in demand for stationary batteries to store excess power. This is relevant for an electricity mix with a much higher share of (volatile) renewables.
Opportunities for utilities: Customers, smart grid and decentralised backup In this decentralised electricity world, the key utilities’ assets will be smart distribution networks, end customer relationships and small-scale backup units. Utilities should be able to extract more value in (highly competitive) supply activities, as customer needs will be more complex. Large-scale power generation, however, will be the dinosaur of the future energy system: Too big, too inflexible, not even relevant for backup power in the long run. Overall, sector EPS could grow 13% by 2025 on capex and higher-margin supply businesses, but differences between the companies should be large……..http://www.qualenergia.it/sites/default/files/articolo-doc/ues45625.pdf

July 22, 2016 Posted by | energy storage, renewable | Leave a comment

Energy storage favours the renewable revolution, not outdated nuclear power

“…….Berkeley Energy Professor Daniel Kammen ably defended energy storage, ……. Energy storage is cost competitive already in some markets—unlike new nuclear, Kammen said, and its price is dropping on a steeper curve than the dramatic reductions seen in solar costs. Storage will be more effective in the decentralized energy grid that’s emerging, he continued, than nuclear could be.

“The dramatic ramp up in solar resulted in the dramatic realization that a diverse, decentralized system can provide the same critical features that we think about with a baseload highly centralized system,” said Kammen. “Not tomorrow, but in the time frame that we need it, it’s absolutely there.”….

Ball summarized: ”So the argument is that rather than having yesterday’s no-carbon technology, which is a very centralized big generation technology, you think the world now has tomorrow’s no-carbon technology, which looks like a ballet of lots of different sources ready to go.”

In addition to batteries, compressed air storage is cost competitive, Kammen said, and flywheel storage can deliver power in sub-milliseconds. And in time, electric cars, buses and other vehicles will be used as a storage resource, he said. That’s a strategy China is pursuing and that Kammen has suggested the rest of the world consider, not in the next five years, but a bit later as these technologies develop and proliferate.

Meanwhile, small modular nuclear reactors won’t be ready in time to meet the grid’s needs, he said, and conventional reactors are too expensive.

“If you want to bet on a robust-basic-research to an applied-research-deployment category,” Kammen said, “that far favors the storage revolution than it does the nuclear revolution.”…… Silicon Valley Energy Summit , Forbes 5 June 16

June 6, 2016 Posted by | energy storage, USA | Leave a comment

Revolutionary solar power: London Borough’s solar panels over marketplace

flag-UKLondon borough installs 6,000 solar panels over marketplace http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/19/london-borough-installs-6000-solar-panels-on-market  £2m scheme by Hounslow council on Western International Market will be biggest solar scheme by any local authority, and use batteries to store energy. London council is unveiling a vast installation of 6,000 solar panels on a wholesale market rooftop, which it says is the largest such array put up by a local authority.

solar market London borough

The London Borough of Hounslow says its £2m investment in solar, which has been installed on the roof of Western International Market, is also the first by a council to adopt battery storage to maximise the power from the panels.
The 1.73 megawatt (MW) array of 6,069 panels and four 60kW lithium batteries system now generates half the site’s required electricity.

The site is west London’s largest wholesale market for fresh produce and flowers, and uses around 3.5 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity to provide climate controlled facilities to around 80 wholesalers and buyers – the equivalent of 1,750 homes a year.

Hounslow council, which owns the market near Heathrow Airport, says the solar system will contribute 2% of its carbon reduction target, cutting emissions by more than 780 tonnes a year.

It will also save £148,000 in energy costs which, along with £100,000 in generation tariff payments and £7,000 in export tariffs, means that the council expects to be £255,000 better off in the first year of operation.

Charles Pipe, energy manager at Hounslow, said: “From the very beginning, this project has been about reducing our carbon footprint and making an investment for the future. “But we have achieved so much more than that. Not only can we expect to see immediate savings on our electricity bills, but we are expecting to see a return on this investment in about five years.”

LG Electronics, one of Hounslow’s partners in the scheme, said it was the company’s largest solar panel installation in Europe and would deliver significant costs savings to the borough.

LG Solar’s UK senior solar sales manager Bob Mills said: “What’s more, the project has set the wheels in motion for further investment and research into the potential of battery storage, which is set to revolutionise the solar industry.

May 20, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, energy storage, UK | Leave a comment

New battery technology developed by Chinese researchers

text-relevantChinese researchers develop new battery technology, EurekAlert, 25 Mar 16CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES HEADQUARTER A Chinese research team from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a novel, environmentally friendly low-cost battery that overcomes many of the problems of lithium ion batteries (LIB). The new aluminum-graphite dual-ion battery (AGDIB) offers significantly reduced weight, volume, and fabrication cost, as well as higher energy density, in comparison with conventional LIBs. AGDIB’s electrode materials are composed of environmentally friendly low cost aluminum and graphite only, while its electrolyte is composed of conventional lithium salt and carbonate solvent.

The research, published in “A Novel Aluminum-Graphite Dual-Ion Battery,” recently appeared in Advanced Energy Materials (IF=16.146).

The discovery is particularly important given rising battery demand and existing LIB technology, which is reaching its limit in specific energy (by weight) and energy density (by volume).

LIBs are widely used in portable electronic devices, electric vehicles and renewable energy systems. Battery disposal creates major environmental problems, since most batteries contain toxic metals in their electrodes. According to the Freedonia Group, world battery demand is expected to rise 7.7% annually, reaching US$120 billion in 2019………http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/caos-crd032416.php

March 27, 2016 Posted by | China, energy storage | Leave a comment

LARGE-SCALE SOLAR POWER STORAGE CAN BECOME A REALITY

CAN LARGE-SCALE SOLAR POWER STORAGE BECOME A REALITY?, Stanford Engineering, An unexpected finding by a team of engineers could lead to a revolutionary change in how we produce, store and consume energy. By Glen Martin, 16 Feb 16,  “……..Now a team led by William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and Nicholas Melosh, an associate professor in the same department, has made a discovery that could make large-scale solar power storage a reality.

The breakthrough is based on the fact that ordinary metal oxides, such as rust, can be fashioned into solar cells capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Using solar cells to split H2O by day is a way to store energy for use at night. The photons captured by the cell are converted into the electrons that provide the energy to split water. Recombining hydrogen and oxygen after dark would be a way to reclaim that energy and “dispatch” power back into the electrical grid – without burning fossil fuels and releasing more carbon into the atmosphere.The solar power potential of metal oxides was previously known. But metal oxide solar cells were also known to be less efficient at converting photons to electrons than silicon solar cells.A discovery reported in the journal Energy & Environmental Science makes metal-oxide solar cells a better candidate for energy storage. The Stanford team showed that as metal oxide solar cells grow hotter, they convert photons into electrons more efficiently. The exact opposite is true with silicon solar cells, which lose efficiency as they heat up.”We’ve shown that inexpensive, abundant and readily processed metal oxides could become better producers of electricity than was previously supposed,” Chueh said.This unexpected discovery could lead to a revolutionary change in how we produce, store and consume energy.”By combining heat and light, solar water-splitting cells based on metal oxides become significantly more efficient at storing the inexhaustible power of the sun for use on demand,” he said.ACHIEVING COST-EFFICIENCY

So far it has been impractical to use water-splitting as a way to store the sun’s energy. One reason is cost-efficiency. Silicon-based solar cells, such as those used in rooftop solar arrays, are good at converting visible and ultraviolet light into electricity. But silicon cells waste the infrared light, which bears heat, beating down on them.”Standard cells utilize a relatively small portion of the spectrum, and the rest is lost as heat,” Chueh said.Until the recent Stanford experiments, it was believed that metal oxides also became less efficient as they became hotter. And since they were less efficient than silicon to start with, that made them less interesting as a water-splitting technology.The Stanford experiments change that misconception…………Discovering that heating up metal oxides produces more energy means that relatively simple engineering could be applied to heat these solar cells to enhance their efficiency.”You don’t have to add energy from an outside source,” said graduate student and team member Andrey Poletayev. “You can do it for free by concentrating solar radiation, either through a magnifying lens or parabolic mirrors.”Chueh believes that this discovery will refocus attention on developing metal oxides as cost-effective alternatives to silicon solar cells. Quite apart from their potential use in a day-to-night energy storage scenario, he envisions that pure hydrogen gas produced by water-splitting could be used to power vehicles or other machines directly and without pollution.”We can store these gases, we can transport them through pipelines, and when we burn them we don’t release any extra carbon,” said Chueh. “It’s a carbon-neutral energy cycle.”This research was supported by Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project and by the National Science Foundation. https://engineering.stanford.edu/news/can-large-scale-solar-power-storage-become-reality

March 23, 2016 Posted by | energy storage, USA | Leave a comment

Battery storage for solar now a very big deal

sun-powerThis huge deal is the latest evidence that the battery revolution has arrived, WP   By Chris Mooney December 15 At the Paris climate change conference earlier this month, all eyes were on some massive announcements in the solar and wind energy space — including plans in Africa to install 300 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity across the continent by the year 2030. A gigawatt is a billion watts — and this would be nearly double the electricity capacity that the continent currently supports.

Less noticed, however, is that a key enabling technology for solar — and for the future of clean energy — is also starting to grow: Energy storage. When solar systems are connected with batteries or other forms of storage, they can cease to be dependent upon whether the sun is shining and how strong its rays are at a given moment. Rather, solar energy can be stored and used at a later time. Including at night.

And now AES, a large energy company headquartered in Arlington, Va., has announced a very large deal in the battery space. It is gaining access to 1 gigawatt-hour worth of lithium ion batteries from Seoul-based LG Chem, a chemicals giant that also has a strong business in making lithium ion batteries for electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The batteries will be deployed in AES’s Advancion platform, which provides large scale grid energy storage to utility companies.

Power – in this case, a gigawatt – refers to the amount of electricity that can be discharged instantaneously. But when it comes to batteries, what’s also important is how long the battery can operate — its energy. Thus, 1 gigawatt hour would refer to the capacity to discharge that much power for one hour — but it could also refer to the ability to discharge 250 megawatts (or million watts) for four hours.

Either way, that’s a very large amount of batteries. For comparison, GTM Research recently forecast that the U.S. will deploy a record 192 megawatts of energy storage in 2015.

The energy storage business is “definitely moving to a new level this year,” says John Zahurancik, president of AES Energy Storage.  Zahurancik says the big buy of batteries is a “vote of confidence” in this business, which drew dramatic attention earlier this year when Tesla Motors announced a home battery product dubbed the “Powerwall.”

But for now, the biggest business for batteries isn’t in the home, where they can serve a backup role in the event of an outage or pair with a rooftop solar system; it’s on the grid, where there is a constant need to be able to manage shifting electricity demand at different times of the day. Batteries that can switch on automatically at key moments can provide a major grid service, which is why they’re seeing more and more demand.

Thus, AES is in effect packaging lots of batteries, provided by LG Chem, into large systems that large power companies can purchase and then install or integrate on the grid wherever they need this new capacity. AES directly advertises its batteries as the “complete alternative” to “peaking power plants.”

“The projects are generally getting bigger, they’re getting longer in duration, and they’re happening in more markets around the world,” says Zahurancik……..https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/15/huge-deal-provides-the-latest-evidence-that-the-battery-business-has-arrived/

December 18, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, energy storage | Leave a comment

New batteries coming for solar powered homes

solar-rooftopsWant 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.

 In the race to build the battery of the future, they’re unveiling a unique option. They say their flow battery is the first made with cheap, non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable, high-performance materials.

“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/

September 26, 2015 Posted by | decentralised, energy storage, USA | Leave a comment

Control of electricity at the local level, with batteries for renewable energy

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

batteries Terence Eduarte

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.

At the same time, their performance has improved immensely: design tweaks have tripled the energy stored in a given volume since the technology was commercialised in 1991. Success has bred success, and lithium-ion batteries have found new and bigger applications, such as electric vehicles (see “Powered by Lithium”). For example, the Model S electric car designed by Tesla Motors, a company owned by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, is powered by thousands of small lithium-ion batteries arrayed between the car’s axles. It can go from zero to 95 kilometres an hour in 3.1 seconds, and can travel about 430 kilometres on a single charge, although charging it can take many hours.
Tesla has no plans to stop there. Lithium-ion batteries are so important to the company that it has taken manufacturing into its own hands, building a “Gigafactory” just outside Reno, Nevada. By 2020, the company plans to produce as many lithium-ion batteries annually as the entire world produced in 2013 – enough for a fleet of 500,000 electric cars – and with a 30 per cent reduction in production cost per battery………

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July 25, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, decentralised, energy storage, Reference | Leave a comment

Grid powered 50% by renewable energy without the use of batteries.

Could one million smart pool pumps ‘store’ renewable energy better than giant batteries? The Conversation,  Sean Meyn Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Florida, 12 June 15 “……..In my research, I’ve found that we can accommodate a grid powered 50% by renewable energy without the use of batteries.

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

June 13, 2015 Posted by | energy storage, USA | Leave a comment