The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Britain’s innovate energy storage scheme, using flywheels

Times 2nd June 2017 Flywheels will be used to balance supply and demand on Britain’s electricity grid in a £3.5 million project that could help the country to cope with more wind and solar power. Sophisticated flywheels that can store electricity for long periods of time are to be installed next to the University of Sheffield’s battery storage facility at Willenhall near Wolverhampton, in the first project of its kind in the UK.

The cylindrical structures draw electricity from the grid when surplus is available, powering a motor that makes the flywheel rotor spin at high speed. So far, efforts to tackle the problem have focused on lithium-ion batteries, which
can respond in less than a second to provide or absorb power and restore balance to the grid.

Eight such projects are being built around the UK after winning contracts from National Grid last year. Dr Gladwin said that such batteries would degrade over time the more they were charged and discharged, and were only expected to have a lifetime of ten years. Flywheels were a better way to deal with rapid short-term fluctuations, he said. The flywheel project in Willenhall should provide a megawatt of power for just over a minute before it runs out of energy.

June 3, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, UK | Leave a comment

A promising first: hybrid wind power storage plant in Spain using batteries

Battery storage paired with wind farm in ground-breaking Spanish trial, REneweconomy By Sophie Vorrath on 30 May 2017

The first hybrid wind power storage plant in Spain using batteries

A world first hybrid renewables trial, pairing a grid-connected wind farm with lithium-ion battery storage and energy management software, has been switched on in Spain, in a bid to boost the integration of variable-generation renewables into electricity networks around the world.

The project, led by Spanish wind energy giant Acciona, will use in-house developed “simulation” software to control the battery storage systems at a specially developed hybrid power plant, which is located next to Acciona’s experimental wind farm at Barasoain (Navarra)…..

May 31, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, renewable, Spain | Leave a comment

Old Energy Order Draws to a Close as a battery storage revolution takes off

nuClear News No.94 April 2017 “…The old energy order is drawing to a close as a battery storage revolution takes off, according to the Telegraph. Over the last two years, battery costs have fallen 40%, with further falls to come as economies of scale take hold. Rapid growth in the market for battery storage, forecast by Goldman Sachs to increase by a thousand-fold from $258m (£210m) last year to $258bn in 2025, should in turn remove a number of the key economic constraints on renewable forms of energy. Wind and solar are intermittent forms of energy, and hitherto have therefore required complementary back-up generation to ensure there is enough power in the grid at all times to service demand. The great promise of storage is that it should lend renewables the same “always on” characteristics of more conventional forms of power, allowing electricity to be drawn when the wind is blowing, and given out again when it is not.

Paul Massara – a former chief executive of Npower who now runs his own battery storage business, North Star -says it seems plausible that at least half of all UK households will have installed battery storage facilities within 10 years. In such a world, energy supply ceases to be the linear business of delivering power from the generator to the consumer as and when it is required, and becomes much more about smart grids and data management. There will always be a need for National Grid and the District Network Operator Companies, but they may have to radically change their charging methods from a metered usage basis to a single, all-you-can eat rental charge, to cater for this new, much more diffuse form of power provision. That’s what happened to BT. Far less certain is that there will be any need for Hinkley Point C. This will in time be seen as a phenomenally expensive and unnecessary form of power generation; Theresa May’s Government will be cursed for locking us into such ruinously high prices. (1)

Britain’s energy system is poised for a rapid expansion of batteries, with 4 gigawatts likely to be operating by 2033, official forecasts show. Renewables will also play a bigger role than forecast, resulting in far fewer gas-fired power stations being built than expected, according to an analysis published by the government in March. No carbon capture and storage plants are likely to be built by 2030, according to the documents, which show the government’s best estimate of the future energy mix if policies are continued.

Large-scale battery technology is still in its infancy, with initial projects totalling 200 megawatts being built. New government forecasts project that this will increase to 1GW by 2021, 2GW by 2025, 3GW by 2029 and 4GW by 2033. Last year’s forecast included no battery capacity but the government said that it had “continued to see significant reductions in the cost of batteries”. The government now forecasts 45GW of renewable capacity will be built by 2035, compared with 33GW a year ago. Forecasts for new gas power plants have been reduced by an amount corresponding to the increase in renewables. (2

) Local authorities have been told they need to develop energy storage strategies, or get left behind. Speaking at the Association for Public Sector Excellence’s (APSE) energy conference, Ray Noble said the price of energy storage systems will come down “faster than solar” and “every onshore wind and solar farm will have one in the future. They [councils] need to put in place the right strategy or work with government to produce the right networks to make certain it happens in their area,” he said. “Local authorities have got to recognise that this is going to happen. They need to be seen to be ahead of the game, and telling people in their area why they are doing this.” Noble said storage will change the face of the energy market beyond recognition. (3)

The community at Garmony on the Isle of Mull is an example of how things might look in the future. It’s not just that the community is running a new 400-kilowatt hydro power plant on an east coast hillside that will plough £2 million into local projects. It’s what they are doing about using the electricity. With the help of experts and a government grant, they are trying to solve one of the most paradoxical problems of renewable power: sometimes there is just too much of it. If the river is flowing fast and full and electricity demand is low, there’s nowhere for the power to go. There’s a limit to how much can be transmitted to the mainland, and no easy way of storing it. The same applies to wind turbines when the wind is blowing hard but homes and factories aren’t hungry for power, at night for example. It’s why electricity consumers have to fund “constraint payments” to compensate generators forced to turn off turbines to avoid overloading the national grid. What the Mull and Iona Community Trust are trying to do is to develop a much smarter local grid that will enable electricity to be stored rather than wasted. It’s called the ACCESS project – Assisting Communities to Connect to Electric Sustainable Sources. It means that electric storage heaters in homes can be automatically switched on and off in order to match the amount of power being generated by the hydro plant. This may not sound like the kind of sophisticated system that is key to the future, but experts insist that it is. It is decentralised, locally owned and community-scale schemes for using renewable energy that have the real potential to revolutionise the energy system.

There are similar initiatives under way on the Orkney islands, where excess electricity from wind turbines can be used to charge community electric vehicles. These are the kind of ideas that, if they are shown to work, could be followed up across the country. “But we need to get away from thinking of green energy just as a bunch of subsidised windmills or wave or tidal turbines, or thinking only about electricity. Green energy in its widest sense includes energy generation technologies, but also heat pumps, energy efficiency, low emission vehicles and smart meters.” (4)

The arrival of large scale renewables with zero operating cost is eating away at the businesses of those companies reliant on selling on the open market. The old business model is now ‘obsolete’. Lower and lower prices are making it impossible to produce electricity from gas or coal in markets increasingly captured by solar and wind. Equally, no-one can raise the finance to build new power stations, even in those countries with ageing fleets, such as the UK, because of low prices and fewer and fewer hours of operation. This problem will get worse. Whether you are an enthusiast for a fast transition to a renewables-based energy system or are sceptical about the pace of change, the destruction of the traditional utility by the eating away of wholesale prices is not good news. It increases the possibility that the increasingly rapid switch to renewables around the world will be brought to a shuddering halt by governments worried about the security of energy supply because of the intermittency of wind and solar. Although we can make huge progress in adjusting electricity use to varying supply, ‘demand response’ will never be enough to deal with weeks of low wind speed and little sun in northern countries.

‘Power-to-gas’ is the critical remaining ingredient of the energy transition, says Chris Goodall. Without a rapid and whole-hearted commitment to this technology, the renewables revolution may ultimately fail. The right way to ‘fix the broken utility model’ is to link the gas and electricity markets through large-scale application of power-to-gas technologies. Big utilities talk about understanding the need for decentralisation but the reality is that they will be terrible at moving away from centralised production plants. What they would be good at is running large scale electrolysis and methanation operations that allow them to continue to run CCGT power plants when electricity is scarce. We will not need capacity payments or other complex subsidies and incentive schemes. By creating a continuing role for CCGT we will have found a way to keep our energy supply secure without threatening decarbonisation objectives.

April 8, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, energy storage | Leave a comment

Giant renewable energy storage battery – a transformation for a coal mine

Germany Converts Coal Mine into Giant Battery to Store Renewable Energy for off-Hours EnviroNews World News  on April 2, 2017  North Rhein Westphalia, Germany — The Prosper-Haniel hard coal mine, slated to be shut down in 2018 when government subsidies run out, is being repurposed to become a giant battery for excess power created by renewable energy sources. Located in North Rhein Westphalia, the coal mine’s conversion will allow Germany to store 200 MW of electricity for use during times when solar and wind are unavailable or unable to meet energy needs.

The storage is formed by a reservoir of water above the mine. The water can be released into the system when it is needed. As gravity pulls the water into the coal mine below, the water turns a turbine creating electricity. The water is then pumped back to the reservoir. This can be done when power prices are lower or when renewable energy sources are making more energy than people are using, as they did in Germany on May 12, 2016. This isn’t the first pumped hydroelectric storage station; however, it is the first one to use a coal mine for its lower reservoir.

According to Governor Hannelore Kraft, the miners of Bottrop will remain employed during the conversion process. Thus the plan addresses two concerns about which most opponents are vocal when it comes to energy sources like solar and wind. It creates a storage system, and it keeps people employed…….

April 3, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, Germany | Leave a comment

Grid scale storage for power reliability – 2 Australian States choose this energy method

Two Australian states embrace grid-scale storage for power reliability, Dive Brief:

  • Two Australian states are ramping up energy storage to address rising electricity costs and rolling blackouts, according to media reports.
  • In South Australia, the government says it will hold a competitive solicitation for a 100 MW battery storage installation and construct a 250 MW gas plant, according to Energy Storage News reports.
  • The state of Victoria is also investing $20 million in an effort to boost energy storage to 100 MW by the end of next year, ABC News reports.
Dive Insight:The government announcements come days after Tesla told South Australia officials that it could install a 100 MW battery system in 100 days that would solve the state’s power problems.South Australia has been suffering from rolling blackouts brought about by high heat and a lack of baseload power. The situation has attracted developers like ZEN Energy and Tesla, who say that battery storage could go a long way toward integrating renewables into the state’s grid and solving grid instability problems.

South Australia officials also announced plans for a 250 MW gas-fired generator to act as backup for intermittent renewables.

Officials said the gas plant would be turned on only when power shortfalls are forecasted, according to ABC. A bill is reportedly in the works to give the state energy minister more control over power dispatch, after criticisms of the Australian grid operator stemming from the power outages.

Victoria, meanwhile, is looking at a range of energy storage solutions, including batteries, pumped hydro storage and solar thermal technology. The $20 million investment will come on top of a separate $5 million solicitation for a 20 MW energy storage system issued last month.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, energy storage | Leave a comment

Promising new non toxic and long lasting solar power battery

This non-toxic battery lasts a decade, could be renewable energy’s missing piece Anthropocene, by  | Feb 23, 2017    “……Researchers at Harvard University have developed a new kind of low-cost battery that can run for more than 10 years with no maintenance. It is also non-toxic and inexpensive, to boot. The technology could make grid-scale renewable energy storage a reality, the researchers say in a paper published in the journal ACS Energy Letters…….

The new battery should be cheaper to produce than today’s devices. “And since the medium is noncorrosive, you can use cheaper materials to build the components of the batteries, like the tanks and pumps,” Gordon said in a press release.

The battery loses only 1 percent of its capacity after over 1,000 charge cycles, which is much longer than lithium batteries. The researchers also calculated that if the battery was charged and discharged completely once a day, “we would expect it to retain 50 percent of its energy storage capacity after 5,000 cycles, or about 14 years.”

February 25, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, USA | Leave a comment

Record low in solar price and lithium batteries prices

text-relevantEnergy rEVolution: Cheap Lithium Batteries And Solar Price Hitting Record Low Of 2.42c/kWh, And May Fall Further We are witnessing the tipping point in the disruption of Energy Industry: Solar Power becomes the cheapest source of generated energy!  ReNewEconomy  provides the mindboggling data on the speed of race to the bottom of the cost for Solar Power. What is very important here that this new record  of US $2.42c/kWh was set not in the lab, but by the biggest manufacturer in the world JinkoSolar.

  Money talks. We are entering the exponential stage for Solar Power development in the world now and cheap lithium batteries change everything: now we can not only generate electricity using Solar Panels, but we can store it and use it when we want it. Tesla’s new  project in California will build the largest Energy Storage facility in the world in the record time using Powerpacks by the end of this year.
  Cheap clean electricity is coming into our grid systems now at rapidly increasing levels substituting coal and nuclear. Now we will have a clean energy to power millions of EVs coming fast. Electric cars are already clean and will be getting only cleaner now with every record of the amount of Solar Power generation systems installed all over the world. Lithium is the magic metal at the very heart of this Energy rEVolution and China is flexing its muscles to build the 21st-century economy to dominate New Energy space.
 EVs Are Clean And Getting Cleaner: U.S. Electricity Generation From Renewables Has Broken Records Every Month In 2016.
  “I do hope that I do not really have to address this issue anymore. Numerous studies have already confirmed that even with the existing energy mix in the US grid a few years ago Electric Cars were much cleaner than ICE ones on the full life cycle. From lithium battery making including the production of lithium to the electricity to charge this battery.   Now they are getting even cleaner with the energy mix of the US grid taken over by the renewables.
  What is very important to note today is that renewable energy is breaking records every single month this year even in the US. Energy Storage with lithium batteries will be next to grow exponentially and will consume even more lithium batteries capacity and lithium than EVs. Fossil Fuels are consumable resources and renewables are technology. The functions for the progress of development for Solar Power and Lithium Batteries are not the same as the famous Moore’s, but still very impressive with prices going down dramatically over the period of time with mass volume production. Particularly in the case with Solar Power, we are getting into the stage when the dramatic decrease in cost have made Solar the cheapest source of energy ever already.  Cheap lithium batteries change everything and now we can store electricity, the most efficient form of energy known to us, and use it when we want it. Read more.

January 28, 2017 Posted by | energy storage | Leave a comment

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. …….

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)

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 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  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.


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……..

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