Our most-read stories of 2016

Last year's hottest stories in Energy Storage Report. Pics: Electro Power Systems, Aquion Energy, Kreisel Electric, Capacitor Sciences, SunPower and Concept by US.

Last year’s hottest stories in Energy Storage Report. Pics: Electro Power Systems, Aquion Energy, Kreisel Electric, Capacitor Sciences, SunPower and Concept by US.

By Jason Deign

The year 2016 will probably be remembered as the point at which energy storage began to take off in earnest.

Projects came thick and fast as interest in storage extended quickly beyond early hotspots such as California and Germany.

We saw grid-scale storage playing a starring role in the UK’s frequency response market, while battery makers jostled for position in an increasingly buoyant Australian consumer market. And that was just a couple of examples.

Almost every major energy market in Asia, Europe and North America had a storage story to tell. But which were the ones that caught your eye? Here’s a rundown of our most popular headlines from 2016. 
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Why you should aim for an open business model

Delegates at next year's Energy Storage Europe Conference will hear a plea for open business models (Pic: Energy Storage Europe 2016).

Delegates at next year’s Energy Storage Europe Conference will hear a plea for open business models (Pic: Energy Storage Europe 2016).

Energy storage developers and asset owners should aim to be technologically neutral to make the most of global markets, experts will hear next year.

Florian Mayr, partner and storage expert of management consultancy Apricum, is due to make the case for technologically open business models at the Energy Storage Europe Conference 2017 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

These models can benefit most from the growth of international storage markets as flexibility becomes a key factor for success in the industry, he claims.

“Today storage markets are still comparatively small and characterised by individual, often geographically determined application cases,” he said. 
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Oil giants pile into energy storage

This five-year chart of Brent crude prices shows the pain oil companies have been experiencing since mid-2014... and why they might be looking to diversify into energy storage.

This five-year chart of Brent crude prices shows the pain oil companies have been experiencing since mid-2014… and why they might be looking to diversify into energy storage (chart: CNBC).

By Jason Deign

The last week has seen two Big Oil firms move into energy storage as continuing low prices for crude force petroleum sector players to diversify.

On Monday the French oil giant Total announced a friendly takeover of Saft Groupe, which specialises in batteries for the transport, industry and defence sectors.

The €950m purchase represents a 38.3% premium on Saft’s share price on the close of business the Friday before the announcement. It is also 41.9% above Saft’s weighted average share price over the previous six months, Total said.

“The acquisition of Saft is part of Total’s ambition to accelerate its development in the fields of renewable energy and electricity, initiated in 2011 with the acquisition of SunPower,” said Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s chairman and CEO.

“It will notably allow us to complement our portfolio with electricity storage solutions, a key component of the future growth of renewable energy.”
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Viking launches solar-and-cold-storage combo

By Jason Deign

Viking Cold Solutions, a US thermal energy storage start-up, is launching what is likely the world’s first solar-plus-cold-storage combination at Hannover Messe, Germany, this week.

Pic: Viking Cold is aiming to tie its phase-change material cold storage with solar.

Viking Cold is aiming to tie its phase-change material cold storage with solar. Photo: Viking Cold.

Energy Storage Report understands the offering is not so much an integrated product as a concept aimed at raising awareness of the efficiency of cold storage over batteries.

Using cold storage with grid power can improve the efficiency of energy use by up to 34%, Viking Cold claimed.

Combined with solar, it could cut ongoing energy costs much further while providing a quicker return on investment (ROI) than batteries, the company said.

“We aim for a three-year payback,” said James Bell, president and CEO. “Our return on investment is based on energy savings. The bigger the facility, the bigger the savings. It can be tens of thousands of dollars a year.”
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Why storage is different to PV

Trends reveal the energy storage industry may not follow the growth pattern of solar, due to the need for a wider range of different technologies. Photo credit: Ads-tec

Trends reveal the energy storage industry may not follow the growth pattern of solar, due to the need for a wider range of different technologies. Photo credit: Ads-tec

By Jason Deign

Claims that energy storage is likely to evolve in the same way as solar might not be as accurate as previously thought, current trends reveal.

In particular, the move towards technology consolidation apparent in the photovoltaic (PV) sector is unlikely to materialise to the same extent in storage because of storage’s much wider range of applications.

At Energy Storage Europe this month, Ads-tec managing director Thomas Speidel is expected to say that the wide range of technologies being used for storage is a key to the success of the industry.

“We are experiencing a disruptive change to our energy economy,” he said in a press note. “That is why quickly scalable storage technologies such as battery storage, which can easily be rolled out, are beneficial.”

The need for different technologies to cater for applications as diverse as frequency regulation and time-of-use shifting marks energy storage apart from solar, despite frequent comparisons between the two.
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SMi stages energy storage conference

SMi’s second annual Distributed Energy Storage conference takes place on 17 and 18 June 2013 in London. It is planned to feature senior UK decision makers from an array of utilities at the forefront of developments in distributed energy storage technology, including SSE, EDF Energy, E.ON, Northern Powergrid, ESB, UK Power Networks and others.

Vanadium & graphene nanotech for fast charging batteries

Hybrid ribbons of vanadium and graphene thousands of times thinner than a sheet of paper could be the basis for a superior cathode for lithium-ion batteries, say researchers at Rice University.

Hydrothermal processing of vanadium pentoxide and graphene oxide creates graphene-coated ribbons of crystalline vanadium oxide, which show great potential as ultrafast charging and discharging electrodes for lithium-ion batteries, according to a report in phys.org.

Ioxus brings new modules to market

Ioxus, a manufacturer of premium performance ultracapacitor technology for transportation, alternative energy, medical, industrial and consumer product markets, has unveiled three new modules. The iMODTM 16V/500F, 80V/15F and 48V/165F all deliver higher power and energy densities as compared with competitive products, says the company.

Notably, the iMODTM 16V/500F provides power density up to 95% greater than modules currently on the market. “We’re seeing global customers in the automotive, wind energy, industrial and hybrid bus sectors strive for greater efficiency and higher performance with their systems, making the need for flexible and powerful products more important than ever,” said Mark McGough, chief executive.