Europe chases GWh energy storage

The door is opening for technologies such as CAES. Pic: ALACAES.

The door is opening for technologies such as CAES. Pic: ALACAES.

By Jason Deign

Gaelectric’s Larne project funding approval this month has focused attention on European efforts to develop large-scale storage technologies that could rival pumped hydro.

Dublin, Ireland-based Gaelectric was granted €90m in European Union backing for a compressed air energy storage (CAES) project due to be built in Larne, east Antrim, on the Northern Irish coast.

The funding came on top of €15m in previous grants, the BBC reported. The Larne CAES project, due for completion around 2022, is a European project of common interest that will generate up to 330MW of power for up to six hours.

Being developed in association with Dresser-Rand, it will store compressed air in two caverns located in salt deposits below ground. When needed, the air would be re-heated using natural gas and, on expansion, drive a turbine.

The plant’s compressors will also provide up to 250MW of demand response to mop up excess wind capacity on the Northern Irish grid, which only has limited connections to electricity networks on Ireland and Great Britain. 
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Industry reaches turning point

The industry's ability to deliver will be under the spotlight as experts gather at the Energy Storage World Forum next month. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

The industry’s ability to deliver will be under the spotlight as experts gather at the Energy Storage World Forum next month. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

By Jason Deign

Speakers from 22 countries will be gathering at the 10th Energy Storage World Forum and 4th Residential Energy Storage Forum in Berlin next month at a critical point for the industry.

Tesla’s recent pledge to build a 100MWh battery plant in Australia within 100 days, or give it away for free, has put the industry under unprecedented pressure to deliver on its promises.

Tesla energy division boss Lyndon Rive offered to install between 100MWh and 300MWh of battery capacity at breakneck speed in South Australia when he introduced Tesla’s new Powerwall and Powerpack systems in March.

The seemingly throwaway comment was picked up in local news reports and prompted Australian software tycoon Mike Cannon-Brookes to reach out to Tesla CEO Elon Musk over whether the offer was for real.

Musk said it was, and added the Australians wouldn’t have to pay for the system if Tesla failed to deliver it within 100 days of a contract. 
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Con Ed chases energy storage value

Con Edison is planning to put battery packs on wheels to help strengthen weak spots on the grid. Pic: Con Edison.

Con Edison is planning to put battery packs on wheels to help strengthen weak spots on the grid. Pic: Con Edison.

By Jason Deign

Next year the New York utility Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) hopes to profit from energy storage both sides of the meter… and all over town. It has projects underway for front-of-meter, behind-the-meter and even mobile energy storage.

The mobile energy storage demonstration project, unveiled six weeks ago, will involve the development of a three-strong fleet of battery trucks that can be driven out to deliver up to 1MW and 4MWh in stressed grid spots.

“Con Edison will determine where to deploy the batteries each summer based on the needs of its electrical networks,” said the company in a press release.

According to a company filing made to the New York State Department of Public Service in February, the fleet will be made up of two trucks each bearing 500kW and 2MWh of battery storage and a third with electrical switchgear.

Greensmith will be acting as system integrator for the Storage on Demand project, and will provide an energy management system to manage batteries provided by LG Chem. 
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Could hydrogen work with batteries?

John Hatton: speaking at the Energy Storage World Forum.

John Hatton: speaking at the Energy Storage World Forum.

NB: a previous version of this story mistakenly said Mercedes and Daimler were pulling out of fuel cell development. This version has been corrected. 

By Mike Stone

Is hydrogen back in serious contention as a storage technology? A look at recent developments might indicate yes. Amazon, for example, has committed to spend USD$600m to buy up to 23% of fuel-cell maker Plug Power’s stock.

The online retailer will use the fuel cells it buys to help power forklift trucks in its warehouses. Plug Power said Amazon will be spending around USD$70m this year.

This spend will also cover stationary back-up power and hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Aiding lifting gear is an area where hydrogen has a well-defined niche, and its use is far from contentious.

But a more audacious recent proposal is one by a consortium comprising Carnegie Energy and Samsung EDI, among others, to build a 100MW hydrogen storage battery in South Australia.

According to Carnegie’s CEO, the company has already delivered 25-plus grid-scale storage systems in Australia. 
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Webinar’s solar-plus-battery secrets

One of the slides from the Ata Renewables presentation in last week's webinar. Pic: Ata Renewables.

One of the slides from the Ata Renewables presentation in last week’s webinar. Pic: Ata Renewables.

By Jason Deign

Combining battery storage with solar generation is already cheaper than using diesel in most microgrids, said experts at an Energy Storage Report webinar last week.

“As the key applications, we see islanded grids or microgrids, [where] PV and batteries are becoming cost-competitive with diesel,” confirmed Valts Grintals from Delta Energy & Environment in the event organised alongside Ata Insights.

A case in point is France, where interest in solar plus storage is highest in islands and “non-interconnected zones,” where around 60% of PV projects so far have been installed with batteries, Grintals said.

This interest is set to grow following the launch of a tender last year for almost 52MW more of island-based solar capacity, spread across 33 projects. “We expect to see more storage coming into these projects,” said Grintals.

“In France, PV and storage is a great solution to stabilise the grid [and] help enable microgrid use, and it is already cost competitive.”
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Flow battery firm ESS boosts top team

An ESS all-iron flow battery at the Stone Edge Farm advanced microgrid, in Sonoma County, California. Pic: ESS.

An ESS all-iron flow battery at the Stone Edge Farm advanced microgrid, in Sonoma County, California. Pic: ESS.

By Jason Deign

Portland, Oregon, USA-based flow battery maker ESS has brought in a company growth strategy master to chair its board of directors.

The all-iron flow battery manufacturer last week announced its chairman would be David Lazovsky, the former president and CEO of Intermolecular, which supports advanced materials.

The appointment comes seven months after the addition of Michael Niggli, former president and chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric, to the ESS board.

Lazovsky founded NASDAQ-listed Intermolecular in 2004 and served as the company’s president and chief executive until to October 2014.

As president and CEO, Lazovsky led Intermolecular from early-stage start-up to a high-growth public company, said ESS in a press release. 
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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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