Home storage needs more control

Michael Koller will be speaking at the 4th Residential Energy Storage Forum in Berlin from May 8 to 12. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

Michael Koller will be speaking at the 4th Residential Energy Storage Forum in Berlin from May 8 to 12. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

By Mike Stone

The aggregation of domestic battery units to provide large-scale energy storage is making headlines in the industry.

But pooling the storage potential of humble electric heaters, heat pumps and other pre-existing thermal units could also have a big role to play.

What’s vital for such a combined system are adequate control systems that optimise all aspects of energy management in the home, according to Michael Koller, energy storage specialist at Swiss utility and grid operator EKZ.

His presentation at the 4th Residential Energy Storage Forum on May 9 in Berlin, titled How to Use the Flexibility of Residential Systems Inside a Virtual Power Plant, will tackle the technical challenges in obtaining such control faces.

It’s a timely subject, as amalgamating domestic energy storage into virtual power plants (VPPs) is rapidly gaining interest as a way of providing ancillary services to the grid. 
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ALACAES seeks CAES partners

ALACAES is looking for partners after proving its compressed air energy storage concept last year. Pic: ALACAES.

ALACAES is looking for partners after proving its compressed air energy storage concept last year. Pic: ALACAES.

NB: In our intelligence brief, we incorrectly stated that L’Azienda Elettrica Ticinese had pulled its investment out of ALACAES and that Airlight Energy had run into technical problems. This version corrects both statements.

By Jason Deign

ALACAES, of Lugano, Switzerland, is seeking institutional partners and investors to create the world’s first high-pressure advanced adiabatic compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant.

The company is looking for between USD$4m and $6m in funding to build a demonstration plant operating at 90 to 100 bar after proving its technology with a 7-bar pilot last year.

The 2016 pilot, with a capacity of 1MWh and a power rating of 600kW, was the first adiabatic CAES plant in the world, according to ALACAES.

On its website, the US Energy Storage Association (ESA) notes: “Advanced-adiabatic compressed air energy storage (AA-CAES) is an evolution of traditional CAES, designed to deliver higher efficiencies.

“Operation is similar to traditional CAES in that energy is stored by compressing air with turbomachinery and storing in an underground cavern. The difference lies in the treatment of the heat of compression.” 
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How V2G could stabilise the grid

Ernesto Ciorra is one of the speakers at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin from May 8 to 12.

Ernesto Ciorra is one of the speakers at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin from May 8 to 12.

By Jason Deign

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) storage may be all that grids need for stability as renewables increase, according to a speaker at the upcoming Energy Storage World Forum, on May 8 to 12.

“With V2G technology we can provide grid stabilisation services without any need for additional storage reserves, but by simply aggregating electric vehicle batteries,” said Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s head of innovation and sustainability.

“With the current technology that we are already improving, for a country like Denmark to provide stabilisation services we need about 40 electric vehicles, while in Germany and UK the minimum number is about 100.”

Ciorra told Energy Storage Report that if all the 18,000 Nissan electric vehicles in the UK were connected to the electricity network, they would generate an output equivalent to that of a 180MW power plant.

“If that were to be scaled up in a future where all vehicles on UK roads were electric, V2G technology could generate a virtual power plant of up to 370GW,” he said. 
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Concept by US breaks into Africa

Concept by US has the African market in its sights. Pic: Pixabay.

Concept by US has the African market in its sights. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Florida, USA-based energy storage start-up Concept by US is due to start shipping its all-in-one battery systems to Africa in May.

For the African market, the company has created a 50Hz, 220V, three-phase version of its Powerstation 247 Plus integrated battery system. It will be installing the units in Africa on behalf of an un-named African energy firm.

Units will be going into African locations ranging from high-end resorts to small off-grid communities, said Sara Kissing, vice president and chief operating officer.

The Powerstation 247 Plus is a solar, wind and diesel genset-ready edition of what Concept by US claimed was the market’s first true integrated home storage system when it launched last year.

Concept by US expects to sell 800 units this year, split almost evenly between African and America. In the US, the company’s biggest markets are California, Texas and Florida.
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Why storage business cases depend on weather

Dr Björn Peters will be speaking at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin this year. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

Dr Björn Peters will be speaking at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin this year. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

By Jason Deign

The case for implementing storage in electricity networks should be based on long-term weather analyses, attendees at the Energy Storage World Forum will hear.

Including weather patterns as one of the main variables in a business case analysis will help show niches where storage “makes a lot of sense,” said Dr Björn Peters, who will be speaking on the topic at the Forum in Berlin this May.

For off-grid mining operations in hot climates, for example, “there might be a very good business case for solar storage” compared to diesel.

Within grids, meanwhile, storage can offer value in helping to balance out short-term fluctuations in intermittent renewable energy.

However, Peters’ research is worrying for policy makers who hope to rely completely on intermittent renewable energy generation to reach European carbon reduction targets. 
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Yunasko says supercaps sweet spot is at 100ºC

Dr Natalia Stryzhakova, head of Yunasko's research labs: “We are happy to get a low-cost ultracapacitor system capable of reliably working at temperatures as high as 100-110°C.” Pic: Yunasko.

Dr Natalia Stryzhakova, head of Yunasko’s research labs: “We are happy to get a low-cost ultracapacitor system capable of reliably working at temperatures as high as 100-110°C.” Pic: Yunasko.

By Jason Deign

Ukrainian ultracapacitor hopeful Yunasko is looking to set up large-scale manufacturing in China after proving a product that works at up to 100ºC.

“Right now, our company is focused closely on customised solutions,” said project manager Sergii Tychina. “We have limited manufacturing capabilities here in Ukraine [but] we have partners in China.”

The news last month that Yunasko’s technology had passed independent high-temperature tests at JME, a US-based firm owned by ultracapacitor expert Dr John Miller, has sparked a search for strategic partners, Tychina said.

The tests showed Yunasko’s ultracapacitors could last 2,000 hours, or about a million charge-discharge cycles, at 100ºC with an operating voltage of 2.39V.

“This is the highest operating voltage of any solution-based ultracapacitor,” said Yunasko in press materials, “at a fraction of the cost typically seen for ionic liquids.” 
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Will there ever be enough storage to go 100% renewable?

Calm, cloudy weather could spell the end of hopes for a Europe running off 100% intermittent renewable energy. Pic: Animam.photography.

Calm, cloudy weather could spell the end of hopes for a Europe running off 100% intermittent renewable energy. Pic: Animam.photography.

By Jason Deign

Using storage to even out intermittent generation in Europe may be a pipe dream at high renewable energy penetration levels, according to one researcher.

Dr Björn Peters, a former power systems financier who will be speaking at the upcoming Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin, said it would be uneconomical to build the level of storage needed to overcome calm periods.

His studies of European weather patterns over the years show the continent is hit by doldrums, or spells of cloudy, calm weather, up to twice a year, on average.

These weather patterns can last for up to two weeks at a time and extend over many thousands of kilometres, he said.

“To balance out this you would need 2,000 times the entire pumped-hydro capacity in Germany,” he told Energy Storage Report. “We have 45GWh and we would need about 80TWh at least. 
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The concept that could put AC on ice

Ice Energy's remarkable storage compound is colourless, odourless and so safe you can drink it. Pic: Pixabay.

Ice Energy’s remarkable storage compound is colourless, odourless and so safe you can drink it. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Thermal energy storage such as that being commercialised by Ice Energy may have a much greater impact than just doing away with the duck curve.

If sold at scale, it could also effectively put traditional air conditioning (AC) out of business in large areas of the world where AC is essential for daytime workplace and home cooling.

Ice Energy is already bracing itself for growing demand in sunny US territories where increasing distributed solar penetration is causing regulators to move away from net metering plans.

In places such as Hawaii, the shift away from net metering is depriving solar-equipped homeowners of electricity bill reductions and forcing them to look at alternative ways to save money with PV. Powering AC units is one option.

AC is one of the biggest daytime and evening energy loads of households in hot locations. With net metering, much of electricity you need to drive AC units can come for free from any excess you have poured into the grid. 
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