Azores project key for island microgrid credibility

Gorona del Viento: poor performance means other island microgrids are under scrutiny. Photo: www.animam.photography.

Gorona del Viento: poor performance means other island storage projects are under scrutiny. Photo: www.animam.photography.

By Jason Deign

A project on Graciosa, Azores, has become key for the credibility of island-based storage following concerns over another plant more than 1,500km away.

The Younicos project on Graciosa is set to go live within weeks amid speculation that another attempt to power an island off renewables, in El Hierro, Canary Islands, has failed to meet expectations.

El Hierro’s Gorona del Viento plant, which combines an 11.5MW wind farm with a pumped hydro storage system, was launched with much fanfare in 2014. Its initial aim was to replace 80% of diesel generation needed for the island grid.

Last month, the plant operator revealed the EUR€82m Gorona del Viento had allowed El Hierro to run continuously off nothing but renewable energy for 55 hours.

And last week Gorona del Viento said the plant supplied 67% of the island’s power throughout July and had set a new record of 76 hours with 100% renewable production.
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Battery key to island’s hybrid system

SMA's Sint Eustatius hybrid solar, battery and diesel plant.

SMA has commissioned a hybrid solar, battery and diesel plant to reduce fossil fuel consumption on the Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius.

 

By Jason Deign

Inverter maker SMA Solar Technology yesterday confirmed commissioning of a hybrid battery, PV and diesel system covering the electricity needs of a small Caribbean island.

The system will allow the 21km2, 3,500-population island of Sint Eustatius, in the Caribbean Netherlands, to cut its fossil-fuel consumption by 30%, equivalent to 800,000 litres of diesel and 2,200 tons of CO2 a year.

The hybrid system includes a 1.9MW solar plant, which can cover more than 23% of the island’s 13.5GWh annual electricity demand, plus 1MW of battery storage.

Diesel genset integration is through SMA’s Fuel Save Controller 2.0 software. SMA also supplied a Sunny Central Storage 1000 battery inverter and a Medium Voltage Power Station 1000.

This “enables a measured solar fraction of up to 88% during sunshine hours and supports the grid with stability functions such as frequency regulation, ramp-rate control for PV and optimisation of diesel genset operation,” SMA said.
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P2P energy player lobbies for storage

Battery storage in P2P energy networks could help businesses such as the Eden Project save money. (Pic: Jürgen Matern)

Battery storage in P2P energy networks could help businesses such as the Eden Project save money. (Pic: Jürgen Matern)

By Jason Deign

Peer-to-peer (P2P) power supplier Open Utility is planning to pressure the UK electricity market regulator towards introducing grid-balancing measures that could include energy storage.

The company, which runs an energy marketplace called Piclo, hopes to convince the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) that P2P networks are good for consumers and distributed generation asset owners.

“There are significant benefits in better balancing renewables and demand on a local electricity network,” said James Johnston, Open Utility’s CEO and co-founder. “Energy storage will be key in enabling this balancing.”

Currently, he said, UK regulations do little to encourage the use of energy storage in P2P networks. Piclo, which allows businesses to buy renewable power directly from source, does not currently include storage, for example.

However, Johnston said: “If regulations allow for it, incentivising local balancing using P2P energy matching could unlock significant financial rewards for local consumers and generators.”
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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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Start-up claims first true integrated home storage

Powerstation 247 from Concept by Us, heralded as the first true plug-and-play residential solar energy storage system, includes integrated inverters and CALB USA lithium iron phosphate batteries.

Powerstation 247 from Concept by Us, heralded as the first true plug-and-play residential solar energy storage system, includes integrated inverter and CALB USA lithium iron phosphate batteries. Photo credit: Concept by Us

By Jason Deign

Concept by US, a Florida, USA-based start-up, claims to have launched the world’s first truly plug-and-play system for residential solar energy storage.

Two weeks ago the four-year-old firm unveiled an integrated storage unit called the Powerstation 247, which comes with up to three hybrid inverters, solar maximum power point trackers, a charge controller and lithium-ion batteries.

All the equipment is made by Concept by US except for the batteries, which are lithium iron phosphate products supplied by CALB USA and chosen for their safety properties.

To install the Powerstation, an installer just needs to plug the leads from a customer’s solar panels in one end and attach it to the household distribution board at the other, said Sara Kissing, vice president and chief operating officer.

Most of the two to three-hour installation time is taken up by the battery management system software’s automated setup process, she said.
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Sonnen joins crowded Oz market

The residential Australian energy storage market continues to hot up, as Sonnen, Enphase Energy and LG Chem all make announcements. Photo: sonnenBatterie, the Sonnen battery system

The residential Australian energy storage market is hotting up, with announcements from Sonnen, Enphase Energy and LG Chem. Photo: sonnenBatterie, the Sonnen battery system

By Jason Deign

German storage player Sonnen today became the latest major player to join the race for supremacy in Australia’s increasingly crowded residential energy storage market.

The company is looking to attract Australians to its sonnenBatterie product, which is a modular lithium-ion battery system capable of storing between 2kWh and 16kWh per household.

“Our first partner is True Value Solar, Australia’s largest solar company,” confirmed Mathias Bloch, Sonnen spokesman.

The company threw its hat into the Australian ring in the week after LG Chem and Enphase Energy both unveiled news of growing demand for storage products across the country.

LG Chem said it expected to see a five-fold increase in Australian shipments this year, to 3,000 units, and Enphase Energy was reported to be looking to Australia and New Zealand for the bulk of up to USD$20m in sales.

US microinverter maker Enphase expects to ship around 4,000 storage systems this year and said it will start generating revenues across the antipodes by the second half of 2016.
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Con Ed wants storage for virtual power plant

The Con Edison Clean Virtual Power Plant in New York will be based on solar and residential energy storage from Sunverge Energy and SunPower. Photo credit: Consolidated Edison

The Con Edison Clean Virtual Power Plant in New York will be based on solar and residential energy storage from Sunverge Energy and SunPower. Photo credit: Consolidated Edison

By Jason Deign

Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) is planning to test a residential storage-based virtual power plant (VPP) concept, Energy Storage Report has learned.

The investor-owned utility, which serves New York City and Westchester County in the US, is hoping to launch a pilot scheme this summer, said Griffin Reilly, project manager for the Con Ed Clean VPP concept.

Initially the project will test how much New Yorkers might be willing to pay on a subscription basis for grid resiliency services, essentially backup power, provided through a battery system installed on their premises.

Customers will not have to pay the upfront cost of the system because Con Ed will own it and reserve the right to sell the aggregated output of many such systems on the wholesale or distribution markets.

The utility is looking to have around 1.8MW and 4MWh of aggregated capacity across the VPP.
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JuiceBox ups US residential market contest

Can JuiceBox battery systems compete with Tesla and Sonnen in the residential solar energy storage market? Photo credit: JuiceBox Energy

Can JuiceBox battery systems compete with ones from Tesla and Sonnen in the residential solar energy storage market? Photo credit: JuiceBox Energy

By Jason Deign

Energy storage start-up JuiceBox aims to upset residential players such as Tesla and Sonnen with what it claims is an easier-to-install product.

JuiceBox Energy’s 5.5kW, 8.6kWh lithium-ion storage system might not have the sleek lines of competing products such as Telsa’s Powerwall or Sonnen’s sonnenBatterie, but is gaining followers on ease of installation.

“We’ve got to a point where you really just press a button, after you connect the wires, and it writes all the parameters into the inverter,” said Neil Maguire, chief executive of Milpitas, California-based JuiceBox.

This means solar resellers can install the system with minimal training, Maguire said. “They know they can quote on a job and get their guys in and out in one day,” he said. “We’ve trained over 100 installers now.”

JuiceBox has been seeing rapidly rising demand for its products around the US since it launched last autumn, despite the fact that residential energy storage is still not seen as being economically viable across most of America.
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