Abengoa: could molten salt do peaker job?

Abengoa solar thermal energy storage systems having proved successful in the US, the company is now marketing standalone molten salt storage systems as a replacement to gas peaker plants.

Abengoa solar thermal energy storage systems having proved successful in the US, the company is now also marketing standalone molten salt storage systems as replacements for gas peaker plants. Photo credit: Abengoa

By Jason Deign

Abengoa, perhaps best known for massive solar thermal plant such as Solana and Mojave, is pitching standalone molten salt storage systems and solar generation-connected thermal storage as a replacement for gas peakers.

The multinational infrastructure developer is already marketing standalone storage projects in the US, Abengoa confirmed in an interview with Energy Storage Report in the run-up to Energy Storage USA 2015 next week.

“Given the experience we have with existing plants [Solana has six hours of molten salt storage], thermal standalone storage is already at commercialisation stage,” said Amparo Pazos Cousillas, director of sales and marketing for Abengoa Solar in the US.
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Utility heavyweights gather for US event

Many of the world’s most important energy storage companies are about to gather at the Energy Storage USA 2015 conference in San Diego. Photo credit: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Many of the world’s most important energy storage companies are about to gather at the Energy Storage USA 2015 conference in San Diego. Photo credit: PG&E

By Jason Deign

Speakers representing some of the world’s most important energy storage purchasers are set to gather at the Energy Storage USA 2015 conference in a fortnight.

Scheduled to appear at the event are utility heavyweights of the stature of Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), NextEra Energy Resources, E.ON and Burbank Water and Power.

The line-up promises to give attendees unparalleled access to decision makers in charge of energy storage selection, said Jack Ahearne, head of strategy and development for Energy Storage Update.

“The timing of this event is highly significant for those seeking to commercialise energy storage in the USA,” he said.

“Energy storage is now a real focus for government bodies such as the DoE and major institutional investors from around the world. Any company serious about developing energy storage in the US will want to make sure they attend.”

Commercialising energy storage

Efforts to commercialise energy storage in the US were given a boost this month when news broke that the government had attracted USD$4bn in renewable energy funding from private-sector backers.
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OCI joins solar rush to buy into storage

OCI joins the solar rush to buy into storage with an investment in Eos Energy Storage and its Aurora battery system, in a financing round led by AltEnergy. Photo credit: OCI Solar Power

OCI joins the solar rush to buy into storage with an investment in Eos Energy Storage and its Aurora battery system, in a financing round led by AltEnergy. Photo: OCI Solar Power

By Jason Deign

OCI has become the latest solar company to buy into storage after making a strategic investment in Eos Energy Storage last month.

The Korean green energy and chemicals giant joined backers led by the investment firm AltEnergy in pumping USD$23m into Eos, which is commercialising a 1MW, 4MWh containerised battery system called Aurora.

Other investors in the round C equity financing included NRG Energy and Fisher Brothers, both of which are existing investors in Eos.

“OCI, with a revenue of $2.2bn, produces and markets inorganic chemicals, fine chemicals, petrochemicals and insulation chemicals, and is one of the largest global producers of solar-grade silicon,” said adviser Apricum in a press note.

“OCI’s strategic investment in Eos represents further expansion into the renewable energy industry, building on its current production of polysilicon and solar cells, as well as the development of solar power projects.”
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LG Chem: C&I to be as big as grid-scale

LG Chem battery boss sees huge growth in C&I storage. LG Chem is also taking on Tesla in home energy storage and increasing its grid-scale projects.

LG Chem battery storage boss sees huge growth in C&I storage. The company is also taking on Tesla in home energy storage and increasing grid-scale projects. Photo: LG Chem

By Jason Deign

A top executive at LG Chem has added to growing optimism over the prospects for commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage growth in the US.

Peter Gibson, LG Chem’s director of energy storage system sales, told Energy Storage Report: “In North America, revenue-wise the C&I segment in the next five years could be as large as or even greater than grid-scale.”

His sentiment echoes views expressed by project developers such as Sharp and Demand Energy, which are seeing growing interest in behind-the-meter systems among large energy users.

“Looking at the advantages storage can bring to demand-charge management, we’re very optimistic about how large that C&I segment could grow in the next five years,” Gibson said.

LG Chem last month unveiled a partnership with the worldwide electrical distributor Gexpro, the operating system developer Geli and the power converter maker Ideal Power to target the C&I market.
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ViZn goes for flow battery growth

Redox flow battery company ViZn Energy Systems has announced a major production deal with Jabil Circuit that could see zinc-iron overtaking vanadium flow batteries.

Redox flow battery company ViZn Energy Systems has announced a major production deal with Jabil Circuit that could see zinc-iron overtaking vanadium flow batteries.

By Jason Deign

Redox flow battery manufacturer ViZn Energy Systems yesterday announced a deal with Jabil Circuit that could see production increasing to 80MW per year in 2016.

The manufacturing partnership should enable ViZn to fulfil in excess of 21MWh of “planned installations in hand,” Ron Van Dell, president and CEO, told Energy Storage Report.

ViZn currently has little more than 1MWh of installed systems in North America and Europe.

However, said Van Dell: “Our flow battery is capable of scaling to tens of megawatts, which makes it ideal for large-scale applications.

“As a result, both utility customers as well as commercial and industrial customers are particularly interested in ViZn’s product.”
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Will tech giants follow Tesla into energy storage?

Tesla Apple and Google: investments suggest these might be the companies dominating the energy storage market of the future.

Tesla Apple and Google: investments suggest these might be the companies dominating the energy storage market of the future. Photo credit: Apple Inc

By Jason Deign 

Tesla’s early success in the energy storage market is raising questions over whether nearby Silicon Valley firms might follow suit. Apple and Google are just two consumer technology giants that could make a play for the sector.

Apple, whose 1 Infinite Loop HQ is just 20 minutes’ drive from Tesla’s Freemont offices, has long been the subject of energy storage speculation. In 2011 the company filed a patent for a novel wind energy storage system.

The system was designed by Jean Lee of Apple’s Environmental Technologies Department, who has also investigated the use of hydrogen fuel cells for laptop power.

It “uses a set of rotating blades to convert rotational energy from a wind turbine into heat in a low-heat-capacity fluid,” according to the patent application.

“Next, the system selectively transfers the heat from the low-heat-capacity fluid to a working fluid. Finally, the system uses the transferred heat in the working fluid to generate electricity.”
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