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26.01.2015
Although the growth in renewables has led to the shutdown of many gas- and coal-fired power plants, power producers believe their plants will still be needed to provide backup capacity. Coal-fired power plants have been the backbone of US (and European) electricity production for decades, but 25% of them will be retired by the end of this decade. His company just commissioned a study, entitled Guide to procurement of flexible peaking capacity: energy storage or combustion turbines?, that predicts battery storage will take over many of the functions currently performed by peaker plants. Lyon’s report mentions California’s adoption of large amounts of renewable energy, which would require an additional 4,600 MW of capacity. Using a 30 MW wind farm as an example, he said generation doesn’t usually “just drop to 20 MW.
Can battery storage shave off enough peak demand so that utilities no longer have to buy peaker plants that are only needed a few times a year?
If everything was working in concert, utilities could shut down their “chillers” [cooling systems] when there is a peak. It is difficult to give a rough figure for the amount of energy companies can save using battery storage to shave peak demand.
All graphs taken from Guide to procurement of flexible peaking capacity: energy storage or combustion turbines?
This story makes sense for an area like California where there exists a (year around) summer early afternoon peak in supply from PV followed by a (year around) demand peak a few hours later in the early evening.
In winter peaking countries without much need for chillers in the summer like Germany, batteries will not solve the mismatch problem. Most professionals in the renewable energy industry agree that energy storage is the key to a renewable energy future. Solar Grid Storage has a unique approach to this: leasing a storage system, similar to a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) where the installer provides the equipment at no cost to the customer and the customer pays for the electricity that the system generates. The Power Factor 250 is quite large, taking up a 20 foot ISO container and weighing over 15000 pounds (6800 kg).
In the event of a grid failure, the unit will disconnect from the grid and provide power to mission-critical loads.
Solar Grid Storage has only been in business for two years, but its founders have extensive experience in the energy industry.
Although the company presently works with commercial scale customers, Solar Grid Storage has its eye on the residential market as well. Global investment in smart grid technologies rose 7 percent in 2012 from the previous year. The United States had the highest investment of all countries in 2012 despite seeing a 19 percent decrease in smart grid spending from 2011. The European Union saw lower financial investment than the United States or Asia, but has established smart meter installation mandates in recent years and is funding research and development programs focused on smart grid technologies. Energy storage technologies offer their own benefits to the modern electricity grid, but can also act as alternatives to or complements of smart grid infrastructure. Smart grid networks and energy storage technologies are gaining traction in energy sector development plans with larger-scale deployments currently beginning or being planned for the near future.
Update: As a follow-on to this post, I run the numbers on how cheap can energy storage get?
I’ve been writing about exponential decline in the price of energy storage since I was researching The Infinite Resource. Energy storage is hitting an inflection point sooner than I expected, going from being a novelty, to being suddenly economically extremely sensible.
The Price of Energy Storage Technology is Plummeting. Indeed, while high compared to grid electricity, the price of energy storage has been plummeting for twenty years.
A Larger Market Drives Down the Cost of Energy Storage. Batteries and other storage technologies have learning curves.
Lithium-ion batteries have been seeing rapidly declining prices for more than 20 years, dropping in price for laptop and consumer electronic uses by 90% between 1990 and 2005, and continuing to drop since then. A widely reported study at Nature Climate Change finds that, since 2005, electric vehicle battery costs have plunged faster than almost anyone projected, and are now below most forecasts for the year 2020.
And the electric car market, in turn, is making large-format lithium-ion batteries cheaper for grid use.
Traditional lithium ion-batteries begin to degrade after a few hundred cycles of fully charging and fully discharging, or 1,000 cycles at most. All of those battery costs, by the way, are functions of what the ultimate buyer pays, including installation and maintenance. But there are other technologies that may be ultimately more suitable for grid energy storage than lithium-ion. 1. Flow Batteries, just starting to come to market, can theoretically operate for 5,000 charge cycles or more. Capital costs for these technologies are likely to be broadly similar to lithium-ion costs over the long term and at similar scale.
Of course, neither flow batteries nor compressed air are as commercially proven as lithium-ion. Now let’s turn away from the technology and towards the economics that make it appealing. The net result is that electricity in the afternoon and early evening is more expensive, and this is (increasingly) being passed on to consumers. Rooftop solar customers love net metering, the rules that allow solar-equipped homes to sell excess electricity back to the grid. Under what circumstances would the second scenario be economically advantageous over the first?
There’s now roughly a 20 euro cent gap between the price of grid electricity and the feed-in-tariff for supplying excess solar back to the grid (the gold bands) in Germany, roughly the same gap as exists between cheapest and most expensive time of use electricity in California.
Almost any sunny state in the US that did away with net metering would be at or near solar + battery parity in the next 5 years. Both of the previous scenarios have looked at this from the standpoint of installation in homes (or businesses – the same logic applies). The study authors concluded that this additional battery storage would slightly lower consumer electrical bills, reduce outages, reduce the need to build added capacity (by shifting the peak, much as a home battery would), and similarly reduce the need to build additional transmission and distribution lines. Energy storage, because of its flexibility, and because it can sit in so many different places in the grid, doesn’t have to compete with wholesale grid power prices. This report specifically looked at the viability of replacing some of California’s natural gas peaker plans.
While the EPRI California study was asking a different question than the ERCOT study that looked at storage at the edge, it came to a similar conclusion. Flow batteries, compressed air, and pumped hydro (where geography supports it) also were economically viable.
California alone has 71 natural gas peaker plants, with a combined capacity of 7,418 MW (pdf link). But what we know is this: Batteries (and other storage technologies) will keep dropping in cost.
I take a deeper look at how fast battery prices will drop in this post: How Cheap Can Energy Storage Get?
Storage has plenty of benefits – higher reliability, lower costs, fewer outages, more resilience. But I wouldn’t have written these three thousand words without a deep interest in carbon-free energy. Let me be clear: A great deal can be done with solar and wind with minimal storage, by integrating over a wider region and intelligently balancing wind and solar against one another. Today, in many parts of the US, wind power is the cheapest source of new electricity, when the wind is blowing.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged batteries, economics, energy, energy storage, nuclear, renewables, solar, wind.
The growing penetration of intermittent and decentralized power generation in a number of countries around the world is causing considerable stresses on transmission systems designed for more consistent centralized power generation. The lead analyst of the Grid Scale Battery Storage Market report commented that ‘Large scale battery storage remains an expensive method of improving efficiencies in the grid, and as such incentives or subsidies remain essential to the market.
The report contains 138 tables, charts and graphs that add visual analysis and portray the grid scale battery storage industry projects, investment forecasts and trends over the next ten years and beyond. The report provides profiles of 27 large scale battery producer companies and provides an overview of smaller players in the market.
The Wind Team delivers up to the minute wind news, wind resources, wind product innovation and more. Windpower Editors Paul Dvorak, Nic Sharpley and Steven Bushong interview the industry's biggest newsmakers and allow them to tell their stories. Solar Power World reaches executives, managers, engineers, installers and technical professionals involved in the design, manufacturing, development, and installation of solar power projects. Design World Online provides the latest design engineering news, articles, tutorials, videos, and products. To gain an understanding of the key cost components for each technology, Lux Research analysts built production cost models of Li-ion, ZEBRA, and VRFB systems for small- to large-scale grid storage systems, and assessed drivers that will facilitate cost reduction and constraints to innovative material and manufacturing approaches. Cost of Li-Ion batteries will dip 45% by 2022. Li-ion batteries may lose market share to cheaper molten-salt batteries for large projects but will remain the system of choice for space-constrained projects because of their high energy density.
ZEBRAs need productivity gains. ZEBRA battery manufacturing accounts for between 50% and 60% of the total system costs, primarily because of the cost of processing its key raw materials.
Vertical integration is key to VRFB costs. Vertical integration and exclusive supply agreements will be key to managing the cost of vanadium pentoxide, a metal with a widely variable historical market price and uncertain future. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter. Zachary Shahan is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. There was a story on Cleantechnica in May 2012 with a good discussion in the comments section also suggesting that $500 per kW.h of storage will be beaten a lot earlier than 2022.
On September 21st, 2011, sodium-sulfur (NAS) batteries installed at Mitsubishi Materials Corp’s Tsukuba Plant, Japan, caught on fire.
A NaS battery is a molten-metal battery with molten sulfur as the positive electrode and molten sodium as the negative. NaS battery has potential for two major applications in grid energy storage, including energy arbitrage and intermittence stabilization. Regardless, the winner for grid energy storage technology competition will come from the technology with high energy capacity, low cost, and public safety assurance. David Anthony is the Managing Director of 21Ventures, LLC, a VC management firm that has provided seed, growth, and bridge capital to over 40 technology ventures across the globe, mainly in the cleantech arena.. When Wes Kennedy started engineering solar systems in the mid-1990s, he pretty much had one integration option: batteries.
At that time, Kennedy designed and installed systems for Jade Mountain, a Colorado-based distributed energy retailer that eventually merged with Real Goods Solar. That’s the way it was from the 1970s onward for a couple of decades, until a steady march of state-level policies and interconnection laws made tying solar into the grid more attractive. At that time, Germany and Japan also beefed up promotion laws, creating a strong burst of activity for the grid-tied market globally. Over the last decade and a half, battery storage went from being the core enabler of solar PV to a marginal technology. In Germany, as feed-in tariff rates dipped below retail rates from the grid, batteries have become more popular to serve self-consumption. The applications are still very limited, but a growing number of solar companies are declaring batteries a central piece of their growth strategy. Kennedy is now developing hybrid systems at SMA, the world’s biggest inverter manufacturer. For applications behind the meter, SMA is programming the Sunny Island inverter to control a hybrid solar-battery system that responds to signals from the grid -- going far beyond its traditional use as an enabler of storage simply for backup.
Currently, SolarCity is using two inverters to integrate storage at a small number of residential sites. Some executives in the solar industry are far more bullish -- perhaps even borderline hyperbolic -- in their projections. Werner believes that the combination of lithium-ion batteries, home energy management software and smarter power electronics will make SunPower into an energy services provider, not just a solar supplier. SunPower has been talking publicly about storage since 2010, when it first developed its internal strategy and rolled out pilots to test solar with flow batteries, lithium-ion batteries and thermal storage. Last January, SunPower also partnered with Ford on a project called MyEnergi Lifestyle to demonstrate how solar, electric vehicles, smart appliances, energy monitoring and price signals could empower consumer choice. But nearly five years after declaring storage part of its business strategy, SunPower hasn’t gotten past the pilot phase. It "seems very unrealistic to assume storage will dominate solar” in five years, according to Shayle Kann, VP of GTM Research. Others aren’t convinced it will be the solar companies that directly leverage the value of distributed storage. SolarCity also benefits from its close financial ties to Tesla, which is preparing to break ground on the world’s biggest factory for lithium-ion batteries.
The relationship between Tesla and SolarCity shows how the storage and solar industries are becoming more closely aligned.
Former SunPower President Jim Pape -- the man who helped write the company’s first plan to integrate storage with solar -- became CEO of the grid-scale flow battery company EnerVault in 2013. The CEO of Stem, a commercial-scale distributed storage company, was the former chief executive at the CIGS thin-film company MiaSolé. And Jigar Shah, who has invested in both Solar Grid Storage and Stem, is well known as the co-founder of SunEdison. Solar Grid Storage works with developers to co-locate lithium-ion batteries with solar projects in the PJM region, typically in the capacity range of 150 kilowatts to 10 megawatts.
Solar Grid Storage has four projects in the ground and another five in contract negotiations.
Despite the excitement and predictions about widespread use of storage in the solar industry, companies are barely scratching the surface. However, projections suggest that the combination will be a major force in electricity markets over the coming decade.
Utilities may be nervous, but storage providers are thrilled at the prospect of leading solar companies embracing solar. After finishing his speech, an audience member stepped up to the microphone and expressed his gratitude for Werner’s comments.
For an in-depth look at how storage, solar and home energy management may start to change electricity delivery, come to GTM's Grid Edge Live conference in San Diego on June 24-25.
Stephen Lacey is the Managing Editor at Greentech Media, where he reports on energy efficiency, solar and grid modernization. Wind and solar power, for international, climate, and environmental reasons, are becoming more and more popular.


This variability in renewable energy sources creates issues in the management of grid electricity generation.
Batteries have chemicals inside and produce electricity by converting the chemical energy into electrical energy. Positive ions (usually lithium) normally located at the anode, are driven from the anode through the separator, to the cathode building up a net positive charge.
During normal battery use, electrons are attracted to the cathode and flow the opposite way - from the anode. As mentioned above, electricity generated by wind and sun is highly variable, both on an hourly basis and seasonally. As can be seen from the examples above, management of the grid with renewable generation takes on some new dimensions. The huge advantage of molten salt is that it can retain its heat for up to six hours when stored in specially designed storage tanks. Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) plants are designed to store electric power off peak when it is not in high demand and prices are low. Wind and solar cycles are quite unpredictable and utility scale storage is very appealing to supplement these technologies. Spare electricity in off peak periods is used to compress air to about 750 psi and store it underground in sealed abandoned salt mines and other rock formations. According to the Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI's) energy storage expert, Rich Lordan, "CAES is going to be important." Pacific Gas & Electric is looking forward to participating in a huge 300 megawatt CAES project in Kern County, California. Due to normal variations in demand, there are small transient load fluctuations on the grid.
Flywheel based storage can be a significant help for managing transient fluctuations which will only increase as renewable sources are added to the grid. The only sound heard when standing inside the flywheel system is that of the fans used to cool the electronic equipment inside. Beacon Power, based in Tyngsboro, Mass., is the only grid level flywheel company with a production site. In the laboratory set up at the left, the liquid metal battery is inside the heavily insulated metal cylinder in the center and was kept at 700°C using external heat sources.
The big advantage of liquid metal batteries is that the current can be 10 times that of regular batteries making it fit for grid applications. As a endorsement of the importance of this research, the MIT project received a grant of about $7 million from the US Department of Energy and $4 million from the French oil company Total. The team has since created a firm called the Liquid Metal Battery Company (LMBC) in Cambridge, Mass.
A new report from Navigant Research provides a comprehensive resource of grid-scale energy storage projects worldwide, including a database of 697 projects encompassing 1,160 systems.
Learn about the three critical transformer strategies that impact the profitability of wind and solar projects including energy efficiency ratings, delivery capabilities and safety features.
ABB's Gary Rackliffe, Vice President Smart Grid, blogs a North American perspective on smart grid trends and technologies.
But grid storage batteries are becoming increasingly competitive with ‘peaker plants’, says Paul Siblerud of US storage company ViZn Energy Systems in an interview with Roy L. They already outperform conventional plants in several areas, but need to be more competitively priced. By 2017, they expect the cost of their 4-hour battery storage unit to be roughly competitive with mid-ranged combustion turbines.
He writes that the “limited speed” of fossil fuel powered plants is “less suitable for … stabilizing distribution circuits negatively impacted by high penetration solar PV. It’s pretty messy on its way down and vice versa on its way up.” There are usually peaker plants idling for occasions like this and they can usually ramp up in 3 to 5 minutes. They typically cannot discharge as deeply as flow batteries or be charged up and down 3 or 4 times a day, however, and they require thermal controls and protection. Depending on their individual circumstances, he has seen it range anywhere from 10% to 60%.
Wind turbines and solar panels generate power that is sometimes excessive and other times insufficient. In this case, however, Solar Grid Storage is working with PV vendors and installers, not the end customer. The unit also contains a charge controller, a multimode string inverter, and power factor correction, lowering the overall cost for the customer. In theory, the system can power critical loads indefinitely - the batteries providing power at night and the PV array providing power, and charging the batteries, during the day. So far Solar Grid Storage has four projects in the works: one completed in December of 2012 and three more in progress.
According to Leyden, distributed storage is growing and companies are trying to find a successful business model.
Smart meter deployments are increasing, with many nationwide installations planned worldwide. On top of direct investments, numerous countries around the world are making headway on smart grid regulatory policies, development plans, and frameworks to support future grid infrastructure upgrades. The next few years will see numerous nationwide smart grid deployment projects and advancements in energy storage markets. Recently, though, I delivered a talk to the executives of a large energy company, the preparation of which forced me to crystallize my thinking on recent developments in the energy storage market.
That, in turn, is kicking off a virtuous cycle of new markets opening, new scale, further declining costs, and additional markets opening.
So naively we’d take the capital cost of the battery and divide it by 1,000 to find the cost per kwh round-tripped through it (the LCOE). I’m sure many will be skeptical of them, though 2015 and 2016 look likely to be quite big years. Right now that means charging consumers a low rate in the middle of the night (when demand is low) and a high rate in the afternoon and early evening (when demand is at its peak, often twice as high as the middle of the night). Software preferentially uses that cheap power from the battery during the peak of demand, instead of drawing it from the grid.
A battery that is more expensive than the average price of grid electricity can nonetheless arbitrage the grid and save one money.
Utility operators can deploy storage as well, Two recent studies have assessed the economics of just that. The assumption is that there are 3 MWh of storage per MW of power output in the storage system. Storage would cost money, but the economic benefit to the grid of replacing natural gas peaker plants with battery storage was greater than the cost. And the increasing economic viability of energy storage is profoundly to the benefit of both solar and wind. Storage added to add reliability the grid can soak up extra solar power for the hours just after sunset. It can help nuclear power follow the curve of electrical demand (something I didn’t explore here). Many innovative companies are striving to bring their battery products up to the standards required to penetrate this high potential industry. Improving the efficiency of transmission through smart grids and optimized transmission infrastructure using energy storage creates considerable cost savings on generation fuel costs, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and slashing power waste related to backup and spinning reserves. Ownership of storage capacity by transmission and distribution companies is vague in many countries and amendments to this would enable them to own energy storage assets, providing more efficient electricity transmission. In addition, this report includes 4 interviews with principal industry experts, offering insight alongside our analysis. It took firefighters more than 8 hours to control the blaze, and two weeks to extinguish the fire. The electrodes are separated by a solid ceramic, sodium alumina, served as the electrolyte.
Energy arbitrage is to use NaS battery to reduce power station fluctuation by load leveling and peak shaving.
However, the primary disadvantage of NaS battery is its high operating temperature of 300 to 350 °C, and the requirement for thermal management to maintain the ceramic separator and cell seal integrity, which otherwise crack at lower temperature. The per-cycle chart above shows the capital cost of energy output, taking into account the impact of cycle life and efficiency.
He held 20+ patents and patent applications, and published many peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals. With very little policy support from utilities, the off-grid market was the dominant driver of business in the U.S.
Battery-based systems now only represent around 1 percent of yearly solar installations in America and throughout the world. As lithium-ion batteries get cheaper and more abundant, solar penetration reaches high enough levels to worry utilities, and electricity markets evolve to reward storage, attention has suddenly turned back to batteries. SMA is boosting its investment in hybrid inverter products due to a renewed interest in microgrids, the promise of solar-storage combinations, a surge in self-consumption in Germany, and the increased use of solar to reduce diesel consumption at remote industrial and tourism sites. SMA is also developing a central grid-forming inverter for large applications that can switch between batteries, the grid or other generating units. The inverter could be used for residential customers seeking to take advantage of time-of-use rates, or commercial customers looking to reduce demand charges and use batteries for ancillary services.
SMA and others are betting that hybrid inverters that can handle switching demands will be the next big thing in residential and commercial solar. However, the company hadn’t done anything noteworthy in that arena until last month, when it announced two more residential pilots in Australia and California to outfit dozens of homes with hybrid solar-storage systems. Will another five years fundamentally change the value proposition of storage for the company and its customers?
Jigar Shah, a partner with Clean Fleet Investors, doesn’t believe that installers and service providers are internally equipped to handle the complexities of storage regulation. In April, Chief Technology Officer Peter Rive announced he was creating a grid-engineering department specifically to work on the regulatory and technical complexities of integrating storage with solar. Tesla founder Elon Musk and Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel have talked extensively about using batteries for stationary applications beyond cars, and see SolarCity as a way to expand the market for storage. A handful of executives in the solar industry have moved into storage and are attempting to apply the financial innovation and cost-reduction lessons they learned from deploying PV. Solar Grid Storage owns and operates the storage system and inverter, and makes money through providing ancillary services to the grid.
Each project is still difficult to execute, said Leyden, but he sees it getting easier as market rules improve around the country and investors get more comfortable with the concept. But the potential to defect will realistically be there for a growing number of people -- putting more than $30 billion at risk for utilities.
But high PV saturation on circuits in Hawaii and worries about over-generation of solar in California are now forcing a discussion about the need for more storage. He described SunPower’s intention to work closely with storage companies to create more demand for the technology.
When renewables are only 2% of the supply as currently the case, variability is not a big problem. A rechargeable battery is different from a disposable battery in that its chemicals can be refreshed, whereas in a throw away battery when the chemicals are used up, the battery is dead. Rechargeable batteries have a higher initial cost, but can be recharged very cheaply and used many times. Electrical energy can be stored in batteries during times when production from wind (or sun) exceeds consumption and the energy can be recovered when consumption exceeds production. How much battery capacity versus wind capacity do you need to make a significant difference in variability? This means that power is still available for up to six hours after the sun goes low on the horizon - enough to cover the period of peak electrical demand.
Then later, to return the compressed air back to electricity when demand and prices are high. PG&E needs the storage facility to manage the 4,500 megawatts of new wind power coming online in California in 2012 from the Tehachapi Pass Wind Project. When the load is equal to the power generated, the AC frequency is exactly 60 cycles per second (60 hertz). Gas fired generators that are used for frequency regulation suffer a significant loss in efficiency and incur costs for fuel.
A flywheel is a mechanical device that converts electrical energy into rotational kinetic energy. The round trip efficiency of a flywheel system is about 85%; the other 15% is used to keep the flywheels turning. In the commercial version, the heat from the chemical reaction should be self sufficient to keep the temperature steady at 700°C so no external heating source will be necessary. The cost of the final product is expected to be less than $100 per kilo-watt hour (about the same cost as pumping water up a hill to be released later to spin a turbine - the cheapest conventional approach for large scale energy storage).
In addition, liquid batteries are expected to have a long life, in contrast to today's batteries. The $11 million dollar research project was a statement about the potential for this technology.
For more information about successful renewable projects, download this free white paper, Five key characteristics make wind farms more profitable. Others will make way for a disruptive technology that can “switch from charging to discharging in less than 1 second” and has a “significantly higher capacity use factor.” Paul Siblerud, VP Marketing at ViZn Energy Systems, explains where battery storage will provide most peaking capacity in the future.
Battery storage is currently more expensive than peaker plants, though it is also faster, environmentally sustainable, and more efficient for certain applications. I spoke with Tom Leyden, CEO of Solar Grid Storage, to learn more about its equipment and business model. Of course, that assumes that your PV array is big enough to do that (even on cloudy days) and your critical loads are not excessive. Given the up-front costs of renewable energy and storage technologies, it makes sense for a customer to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement.
Wide-scale smart grid technology deployment has been included as part of a massive ongoing overhaul of China’s inefficient transmission infrastructure. Smart grid progress in individual countries in Europe varies at present, with high penetrations of smart meters in some and planned nationwide smart meter rollouts in others. Pumped hydropower still dominates all global energy storage infrastructure, accounting for 98 percent of installed storage capacity globally. The success of these developments will surely influence the respective paths of each technology’s development.
Expanding the scale of the storage industry pushes forward on these curves, dropping the price. However, we also have to factor in that some electricity is lost due to less than 100% efficiency (Li-ion is perhaps 90% efficient in round trip).


But heavier, bulkier storage technologies that last for more cycles will be long-term cheaper. In addition, the electrolyte in a flow battery is a liquid that can be replaced, refurbishing the battery at a fraction of the cost of installing a new one. It’s likely, in the US, that the rate at which consumers are paid for their excess electricity will drop, that caps will be imposed, or both. In Germany, where electricity is expensive, and feed-in-tariffs have been plunging, this gap is opening wide. So this study is claiming that in Texas alone, the economic case for energy storage is strong enough to motivate storage capacity equivalent to 2% of the US’s average power draw. Let me point you to one in-depth report, by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI): Cost-Effectiveness of Energy Storage in California (pdf).
And in the short term, storage helps whichever energy source is cheapest overcome intermittence and achieve flexibility. On the horizon, an increasing chorus of voices, even the normally pessimistic-on-renewables IEA, see solar as the cheapest source of electricity on the planet, heading towards 4 cents per kwh. Batteries will play a key role in this development because they can provide power management (peak shaving) and power quality (voltage fluctuation), both key issues in improving the transmission of electricity.
While utilities remain slow on storage uptake, the growing penetration of renewable energy forces the requirement of energy storage to smooth out intermittency in generation. Details of past, current and planned renewable energy trends and government regulations that will affect the future growth of the grid scale battery market are also identified and analyzed. NGK Insulators Ltd., the company that manufactured the energy storage system, said the fire authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire.
During the discharge, sodium ions converted from sodium in a negative electrode pass through solid electrolyte then reach to sulfur in positive electrode. The battery is charged when electricity is abundant, and discharged into the grid when electricity is more valuable. In addition, the highly corrosive nature of the sodium polysulfides, presents another challenge for ceramic insulator protection. NaS battery has inherent safety issues, due to its high operating temperature and highly active materials used.
NaS battery performs better than lithium iron and lead acid batteries, but not as good as some flow batteries and compressed air energy storage (CAES) technologies. Three years later, grid-tied installations outpaced off-grid installations globally for the first time. Over the years, however, the company turned much of its attention to grid-tied applications, where most of the activity was happening.
The solar developer shares the Solar Grid Storage inverter, thus reducing upfront capital costs, and can use the partnership to offer customers backup power or help them reduce demand charges.
Improving technology economics have facilitated that discussion, encouraging a shift in tone among solar leaders. For now, with limited applications, solar companies are attempting to find the local value of storage and figure out how it can fit into existing installation and service models. He has extensive experience reporting on the business and politics of the clean energy industry.
The orange line is the contribution from a solar plant, peaking in the afternoon but not enough to satisfy the demand.
At the moment, there are three proven methods of storing electric energy on the scale of the grid - batteries, molten salt and compressed air. In this way, electricity production does not need to be drastically scaled up and down to meet momentary drops or to meet peak demand. The answer depends on the conditions at an individual site but is believed to range between 10% and 20% of the wind system capacity. Because the trough power approach uses conventional steam turbines, it is easy for the system to integrate seamlessly into the electrical grid. Magnetic levitational bearings (no touching parts) are also used to reduce bearing friction. Flywheels are not intended for long term storage, maximum storage time is about 15 minutes. The advantages of flywheel based storage are a very fast response, they help manage renewable fluctuations, no CO2 emissions, lower operating costs than generators and batteries, and they free up one to three percent generating capacity. At capacity, the Stephentown plant provides approximately 10% of New York State’s typical daily demand for frequency regulation services.
The majority of former employees were rehired in addition to the purchase of the 20 megawatt Stephentown facility.
During the charge process, the current separates both metals out of the electrolyte causing them to gravitate to the two electrodes leaving behind a thinner electrolyte. But storage is expensive; in some cases, adding storage to a photovoltaic system more than doubles the total price. Lithium-ion batteries (protected by a proprietary Phase Change Material to prevent fires), provide up to 125 kWh of storage. While it reduces the potential long-term savings of a renewable energy system, it also eliminates the customer’s risk. Smart grids are commonly defined as an electricity network that uses digital information and communications technology to improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity transport. The country’s investment in smart grid technology accounted for 57 percent of all smart grid investment in Asia, an already very active region for smart grid development that accounted for around 40 percent of global investment, with Japan and South Korea heavily focused on development plans and installations. However, the location-dependent aspect of pumped hydro and the recognition of the growing need for grid-tied energy storage have put emerging technologies, such as advanced batteries, into sharper focus as well. They only operate for a few hours each day, so their construction costs are amortized over a smaller amount of electricity.
Some of the peak load is being diverted to another time when there’s excess capacity in the system. Or it can dispatch saved up power to cover for an unexpected degree of cloudiness or a shortfall of wind. The grid scale battery storage market is a fledging and vibrant market with much potential for future growth.
Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. NGK has suspended production of its NAS cells, and advised customers around the world refrain from using their batteries until it tracks down the cause of the fire and finds a solution.
The electrons finally flow to outside circuits, and the electric power is generated by such current flow.
As shown in Figure 2, NaS battery can be used to stabilize the intermittency from wind and solar renewable energy generation.
The vast majority of PV was paired with lead-acid batteries and sold to people who wanted to disconnect from the grid, or who had no other choice for electricity. A handful of other states followed, extending net metering to solar and creating state rebate programs. SMA put some of its hybrid inverter designs on the back burner, waiting for a time when pursuing them made sense. And although lithium-ion battery costs have dropped 40 percent since 2010, adoption is still limited to wealthy customers willing to pay a premium or to commercial customers in markets where storage can cut demand charges.
The light blue line is the load minus wind and solar illustrating that renewables can only be a part of the overall mix. During the recharge process, electrons from a charger of the same polarity but with a higher voltage, are injected into the anode creating a reverse current from normal battery operation.
Rechargeable batteries vary in size from AAA camera sized batteries to huge utility scale systems (see the box car size storage unit from A123 Systems at the top of this page). What time of day do you begin to let the battery discharge after being charged over night? And because of its storage ability, the molten salt system can easily compensate for moving cloud cover and other weather phenomenon. Wind is most powerful at night but needed most during the day, so wind power is ideal for this technology. The main disadvantage of a flywheel system is its short storage time limitation of about 15 minutes.
When the charge period is complete, there remains a voltage differential between the two electrodes which can then drive a current through an external load generating electricity.
LMBC announced that it raised $15 million in funding in its B round from Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates and Total. As long as net-metering rules are still in effect, using the grid as a virtual storage system is usually desirable, assuming the grid is within reach. Although Solar Grid Storage currently uses lithium-ion batteries, its units are intended to be technology-agnostic.
Such modernized grids are becoming more important as current grid infrastructure ages and regions begin connecting more variable generation from renewable energy sources into the electricity network.
What really matters when we talk about energy storage for electricity that can be used in homes and buildings is the impact on Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) that the battery imposes. Solar + a small battery may get someone in Germany to 70%, and someone in Southern California to 85%, but the amount of storage you need to deploy to increase that reliability goes up steeply as you approach 99.99%.
NGK began shipping NAS batteries in 2002, and has installed 305MW capacity in a total of 174 locations across six countries, including US and Europe.
The variable output of wind and solar generation causes voltage and frequency fluctuations on power network. The one week of solar power chart at the left from Arizona illustrates very well the natural, but fairly predictable, variability of solar energy. For a much more detailed discussion of wind and batteries see the Xcel Energy Wind-To-Battery Project. Solar is best during the peak times, but excess solar power could be generated during one afternoon in the southwest, stored overnight, and then transferred to the east coast for the next day's peak along super transmission highways similar to interstate freeways.
Operators monitoring the grid will either increase or decease standby power generators to compensate for these transient fluctuations.
The amount of energy a flywheel can store is proportional to the weight of the flywheel, but also the square of the rotational speed. During discharge the two metals then recombine in the electrolyte enlarging the electrolyte with respect to the two electrodes.
If that battery just sits there charged through a seven day period, you’re going to have losses on the system.
That’s fine for residential customers, but there are industrial systems and microgrids that cannot tolerate a loss of power if the grid goes down. Even with the the array producing maximum output, it’s possible that the building will need to draw power from the grid under peak demand conditions. Continued efforts by utilities to deploy smart grid solutions will become increasingly important in the U.S. In other words, if I put a kwh of electricity into the battery, and then pull a kwh of electricity out, over the lifetime of the battery (and including maintenance costs, installation costs, and all the rest), what did that cost me? The largest NAS installation is a 34MW, 245MWh unit for wind stabilization in Rokkasho, Japan, as shown in Figure 1. During the charge, the electric power supplied from outside form sodium in negative electrode and sulfur in positive electrode by following the reverse process of the discharge.
The fire also becomes a major challenge for firefighters, since water cannot be used to extinguish the battery fire.
He obtained his MBA degree with distinction in finance and strategy from New York University, Stern School of Business, where he was designated as “Stern Scholar” and received “Harold Price Entrepreneurship Award”. The power on the first, fifth, and sixth days indicate that there was some cloud cover on those days. Wind and solar power stations are like roads and bridges - once the original costs are paid for, the follow on maintenance costs are almost free as there are no fuel costs. If this occurs the composite carbon cylinder can explode into many, many small pieces of very short lived flying hot ash. Beacon Power received a $43 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for the project.
The CEO said that the company has passed the R&D stage and was moving into commercializing the technology for large-scale grid applications.
A major benefit of flow batteries is that there is no material loss if you are running a punishing duty cycle or deep discharging all the way down to a zero state of charge. In those cases, either storage or backup generators must be used to provide power during the grid outage.
Industrial customers pay for demand as well as total energy use, so using battery power rather than tapping into the grid can reduce the customer’s cost. From its press release, NGK expects to incur an extraordinary loss of around 60 billion Yen, approximately $750 million, for the fiscal year ending March 31st, 2012, based on the sum total of the cost of investigation, upgrades and other safety measures, as well as loss from valuation of assets. Therefore, although NaS battery has many advantages, we do not recommend it as a grid energy storage solution.
Analysts can develop algorithms to shorten the discharge period depending on the amount of charge in the battery, but still surround the peak time period.
Doubling the weight doubles the stored energy, but doubling the speed quadruples the amount of energy that can be stored.
The loan covered 62.5 percent of the estimated $69 million needed to construct the plant. In any situation where electricity demand is growing, for instance, widespread use of this scenario can postpone the data at which new distribution lines need to be installed. Beside the safety concerns, we also consider per-cycle cost when evaluating large-scale energy storage technologies, as illustrated by data from Electricity Storage Association (ESA) in Figure 3. Pumped hydro technology has advantages of high capacity, low cost, and safety as grid energy storage solution. What do you do when the wind is very strong and the electricity generated by the wind exceeds the carrying capacity of the grid? Natural gas and coal were very cheap in the following years and it did not make economical sense to store cheap electricity.
A flow battery can run at full-power for 3 to 4 hours or nominal power for 8 hours or more.
The example of pumped hydro technology has been demonstrated by Gravity Power, a California Company developing a solution to provide clean, fast-responding peaking power and renewable energy dispatchability in one system.
When the battery is full and the grid can accept only a limited amount of electricity, the excess needs to be dumped into the ground by the battery management system.



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