The nuclear plant powering debate over storage

Artist's view of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant. Image: EDF Energy.

Artist’s view of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant. Image: EDF Energy.

By Jason Deign

A surprise U-turn over a UK nuclear power plant has ignited debate over whether renewables, backed by storage, might not be a better alternative.

Last month the UK’s new, post-Brexit administration raised eyebrows after announcing a further review of Hinkley Point C, a controversial nuclear power plant that was supposed to have been given the final go-ahead on July 29.

UK officials rushed to issue assurances after the postponement threatened to spark tensions with China and France, the international partners in the GBP£18bn project.

“The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix,” soothed Greg Clark, business, energy and industrial strategy secretary, in press reports.

The government said it would now make its final decision “in early autumn,” he said.
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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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Islands show how energy transition works

Island renewable energy projects with battery storage, like the Younicos Graciosa Island in the Azores project, could be the model for energy storage in Europe, says Clemens Triebel. Photo: Energy Storage Europe

Island renewable energy projects with battery storage, like the Younicos Graciosa Island in the Azores project, could be the model for energy storage in Europe, says Clemens Triebel. Photo credit: Energy Storage Europe

By Jason Deign

Islands converting power supplies from diesel to renewables could be role models for the global transition to renewable energy, according to Younicos co-founder Clemens Triebel.

“If we’re aiming for a high percentage of solar and wind energy, the expansion of renewables has to be matched with sufficient storage capacity from the start,” said Triebel in an Energy Storage Europe press release.

In contrast, said Triebel, the German electricity system is still discriminating against energy storage in favour of conventional power plants.

“We still produce power according to a 19th century paradigm which holds that energy is best produced by large generators that rotate constantly,” he commented.

“If we continue to cling to this notion, the grid will continue to be taken up by coal, gas and nuclear, blocking space for solar and wind energy more and more frequently.”
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Bosch uses hybrid battery system for energy storage

The Bosch energy storage solution in Braderup consists of a vanadium redox flow battery from Vanadis Power and a Sony lithium-ion battery store.

The Bosch energy storage solution in Braderup consists of a vanadium redox flow battery from Vanadis Power and a Sony lithium-ion battery store. Photo credit: Robert Bosch GmbH

Residents in blustery Braderup, Northern Germany, will be celebrating a Christmas with a difference this year. The energy to cook their Plätzchen will have been plucked from thin air… with help from a groundbreaking energy storage project.In July, the 670-or-so-strong community installed what is believed to be one of Europe’s biggest grid-scale lithium-ion (Li-ion) and vanadium redox flow battery systems to store excess wind energy.

The project, delivered by the German engineering and electronics giant Bosch, is said to have been prompted by a local farmer’s frustration at wind turbines overloading the grid and causing power cuts during gales on the North Frisian coast.

A group of 200 private investors from the community got together, as Braderup-Tinningstedt, to fund their own private wind farm, which installed six 3.3MW turbines at the end of 2013.

Braderup-Tinningstedt then formed Energiespeicher Nord, a joint venture with Bosch, to create the energy storage facility, one of the largest in Europe.
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Living the renewable lifestyle

Enercon wind turbines at the Gorona del Viento wind and pumped hydro clean energy project, which will give El Hierro renewable energy sufficient to replace 80% of its diesel.

Enercon wind turbines at the Gorona del Viento wind and pumped hydro storage project, which will give El Hierro renewable energy sufficient to replace 80% of its diesel use. Photo credit: Animam for Energy Storage Report

A small island in the Atlantic is showing how energy storage can be used to help run on 100% renewable energy.

To get to El Hierro, in the southwest tip of the Canary Islands, you first need to fly to the provincial capital of Santa Cruz, in Tenerife, halfway along the island chain. There, a surprising sight currently greets visitors.

Alongside the cargo boats and cruise ships in the town’s busy port lie three hulking drill rigs.

The massive structures await the start of an oil prospection project green-lighted by Spain’s Minister for Energy, Trade and Tourism, Jose Manuel Soria, in the waters between Morocco and Fuerteventura in the eastern Canaries.

Soria’s steamroller approval of the project, with an OK being granted in principle even before the closing date for objections, has angered Canary Islanders.

The potential for oil extraction

They see the potential for offshore oil extraction as a threat to tourism, the main source of income for the islands.

“They’re probably here because if they were in Fuerteventura people would set fire to them,” says Olivier Bello, who works at Tenerife’s La Laguna University, nodding towards the drill rigs.

The islanders have good reason to feel concerned. After all, in El Hierro, less than 30 minutes flight time by prop plane from Santa Cruz, they are showing how there could be another, more sustainable energy economy.
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Smart new ways to store wind energy

Novel technologies for wind energy storage at EWEA 2014 included the GE Power & Water brilliant turbine, understood to have been installed by Invenergy.

Novel technologies for wind energy storage at EWEA 2014 included the GE Power & Water brilliant turbine, understood to have been installed by Invenergy. Photo credit: General Electric

Three novel ways to store wind energy went on show at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) 2014 annual meeting held in Barcelona, Spain, last week.

Two, aimed at short-term and longer-term storage respectively, were discussed during a hardware technology session that also looked at grid integration. The third, involving hydraulic storage, was among the poster presentations featured in the exhibition.

In the hardware technology session, Rajni Burra of GE Power & Water in the US shared the early operational experience of GE’s Brilliant turbine, believed to be the only fully integrated turbine-and-storage combination from a single vendor.
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