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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The utility response to grid defection

Utility responses to grid defection will be one of the many topics being discussed at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin this May. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

Utility responses to grid defection will be one of the many topics being discussed at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin this May. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

By Mike Stone

Utilities are seeking new ways to respond to grid defection as the economics of solar-plus-storage make it easier for homeowners to disconnect.

A report called The Economics of Grid Defection, by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), concludes that in territories such as Hawaii off-grid solar plus storage is already economically competitive with remaining on the electricity network.

Tens of millions of customers will defect in other areas such as California and New York as solar plus storage achieves grid parity by 2030, and possibly even 2020, the RMI predicts.

And grid defection is by no means a US-only phenomenon.

In many parts of Australia and Germany, for example, the business case for residential PV and storage is still far from convincing, but that has not stopped homeowners from installing systems for a whole host of other reasons. 
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Why AMS sees promise in Texas

AMS sees potential in helping change the Texas energy market to one based more on the sun. Pic: Pixabay.

AMS sees potential in helping change the Texas energy market to one based more on the sun. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

San Francisco, USA-based Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) is expanding into Texas as part of moves to grow its presence outside its core California market.

The company this month announced a USD$3.24m US Department of Energy grant-funded project with Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC), of central Texas, to investigate the use of storage with distributed solar generation.

The news came hot on the heels of another deal, with Texas Electric Cooperatives (TEC), to showcase a 200kWh AMS installation and offer energy storage systems at preferential rates to TEC’s member cooperatives.

“TEC is the co-op of co-ops,” said Manal Yamout, vice president of policy at AMS. “They have 75 co-op members, and what TEC does for them is bulk-buy poles and wires and now AMS batteries.”

The partnership is essentially a distribution deal that opens the door for AMS to sell batteries and services to consumer-owned electric cooperatives serving 2m homes and businesses in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. 
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Demand Energy ends year with Costa Rica deal

Demand Energy's battery systems will go towards helping Costa Rica maintain its pristine environment. Pic: Pixabay.

Demand Energy’s battery systems will go towards helping Costa Rica maintain its pristine environment. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Energy storage systems developer Demand Energy and Latin America microgrid pioneer Rio Grande Renewables this week announced a record-breaking project in Costa Rica.

The two companies have commissioned a battery storage-plus-solar-PV microgrid at Establishment Labs, a Costa Rican medical manufacturing plant, said Demand Energy in a press release.

The microgrid is said to be the largest in Central America and includes a 500kW, 1MWh lithium-ion battery connected to 276kW of solar PV.

The system is designed to provide multiple on-site and grid-assisting services, including peak demand reduction, solar variability smoothing and backup power for critical loads in the event of an outage.

It is controlled by Demand Energy’s Distributed Energy Network Operating System (DEN.OS™), which optimises how energy storage, distributed generation and other distributed energy resources interact and perform. 
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Finland sees growing role for energy storage

Energy storage in Finland set to grow, as Landis+Gyr installs the largest battery system in the Nordics, which will help stabilise the electricity supply in Helsinki. Pic: Pixabay.

Energy storage in Finland set to grow, as Landis+Gyr installs the largest battery system in the Nordics, which will help stabilise the electricity supply in Helsinki. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Finland’s nascent grid-scale battery market is set to expand rapidly in the coming years, according to Landis+Gyr’s Northern Europe CEO Ari Tolonen.

He told Energy Storage Report his company was pursuing four other energy storage projects in Finland after completing the largest battery plant in the Nordic countries earlier this year.

Up to 4MW of battery storage could be installed across the country “very soon,” he said. “I believe we will see three or four cases a year. I expect to see this kind of system everywhere.”

In August, Landis+Gyr commissioned a 1.2MW, 600kWh battery system for Helen Electricity, a distribution system operator covering the Helsinki area of Finland.

The €2m Helen storage facility was built alongside Finland’s largest solar plant, a 340kW array in Suvilahti, and will also serve an 850kW PV project being built at nearby Kivikko.   
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How phase-change materials are saving lives

The Dulas solar-powered direct-drive vaccine fridge uses phase-change materials to store vaccines more effectively, helping save human lives.

The Dulas solar-powered direct-drive vaccine fridge uses phase-change materials to store vaccines more effectively, helping save human lives.

By Jason Deign

Phase-change materials (PCMs) are boldly going into an energy storage realm where even the most modern battery technologies have failed to deliver: saving lives.

Dulas, a Welsh renewable energy technology company, is using PCMs in place of batteries as an essential component of solar-powered direct-drive refrigerators for off-grid vaccine storage in developing countries.

On Monday the company announced a contract to supply 345 of its VC200 fridges to health and aid agencies working in Yemen, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The company said the deal represented “a significant expansion” of its partnerships with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Institute of Human Virology in Nigeria.

Dulas will be sending 60 fridges to the Institute of Human Virology, 143 to the WHO in Yemen and 142 to UNICEF in Sierra Leone. “There is the potential for further orders in the near future,” said the company. 
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HyperSolar moves along lonely path to hydrogen

HyperSolar is working to make it easier to create hydrogen on site at commercial and industrial locations, or even filling stations such as this one. Pic: Toyota.

HyperSolar is working to make it easier to create hydrogen on site at commercial and industrial locations, or even filling stations such as this one. Pic: Toyota.

By Jason Deign

US-listed technology firm HyperSolar is looking to develop a commercial-scale solar-powered hydrogen generation system after unveiling a working prototype last month.

The Santa Barbara, California-based company is hoping to give the hydrogen fuel cell industry a boost by removing one of hydrogen’s biggest problems: having to transport the gas over long distances.

Hydrogen “is expensive enough in the manufacturing process,” said Tim Young, president and CEO. “When you add on trucking it 500 miles in a pressurised truck, it stops making economical sense.”

Being able to manufacture hydrogen on site, using water and sunlight, could eliminate these costs and open up a vast array of potential energy applications, Young told Energy Storage Report.

These include “thousands and thousands of backup power plants” that “would all love to be hydrogen powered” because the fuel can be stored indefinitely until needed, he said. 
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What does the PV glut mean for energy storage?

Solar panel pricing is at an all-time low due to overcapacity in the market. Image: SunPower.

Solar panel pricing is at an all-time low due to overcapacity in the market. Image: SunPower.

By Jason Deign

Present forecasts of PV-and-battery adoption could end up significantly underestimating true adoption levels by not taking into account a massive glut in solar capacity.

Josefin Berg, senior analyst for solar demand at IHS Technology, told Energy Storage Report there are currently “several gigawatts’” worth of new solar panels worldwide that nobody wants to buy because of excess supply.

IHS alerted to the potential for manufacturing overcapacity in the PV market back in June, and has forecast there will be a shakeout among what few manufacturers are still left from previous oversupply and consolidation periods.

For now, however, as EnergyTrend noted: “Prices across the PV supply chain have collapsed to new lows in the second half of 2016 due to plunging demand.”

What will happen to the excess PV capacity currently sitting on the shelf is unclear, but in Australia CleanTechnica earlier this month predicted it would lead to a “big solar boom.” 
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