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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How V2G could stabilise the grid

Ernesto Ciorra is one of the speakers at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin from May 8 to 12.

Ernesto Ciorra is one of the speakers at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin from May 8 to 12.

By Jason Deign

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) storage may be all that grids need for stability as renewables increase, according to a speaker at the upcoming Energy Storage World Forum, on May 8 to 12.

“With V2G technology we can provide grid stabilisation services without any need for additional storage reserves, but by simply aggregating electric vehicle batteries,” said Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s head of innovation and sustainability.

“With the current technology that we are already improving, for a country like Denmark to provide stabilisation services we need about 40 electric vehicles, while in Germany and UK the minimum number is about 100.”

Ciorra told Energy Storage Report that if all the 18,000 Nissan electric vehicles in the UK were connected to the electricity network, they would generate an output equivalent to that of a 180MW power plant.

“If that were to be scaled up in a future where all vehicles on UK roads were electric, V2G technology could generate a virtual power plant of up to 370GW,” he said. 
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Concept by US breaks into Africa

Concept by US has the African market in its sights. Pic: Pixabay.

Concept by US has the African market in its sights. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Florida, USA-based energy storage start-up Concept by US is due to start shipping its all-in-one battery systems to Africa in May.

For the African market, the company has created a 50Hz, 220V, three-phase version of its Powerstation 247 Plus integrated battery system. It will be installing the units in Africa on behalf of an un-named African energy firm.

Units will be going into African locations ranging from high-end resorts to small off-grid communities, said Sara Kissing, vice president and chief operating officer.

The Powerstation 247 Plus is a solar, wind and diesel genset-ready edition of what Concept by US claimed was the market’s first true integrated home storage system when it launched last year.

Concept by US expects to sell 800 units this year, split almost evenly between African and America. In the US, the company’s biggest markets are California, Texas and Florida.
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Why storage business cases depend on weather

Dr Björn Peters will be speaking at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin this year. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

Dr Björn Peters will be speaking at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin this year. Pic: Energy Storage World Forum.

By Jason Deign

The case for implementing storage in electricity networks should be based on long-term weather analyses, attendees at the Energy Storage World Forum will hear.

Including weather patterns as one of the main variables in a business case analysis will help show niches where storage “makes a lot of sense,” said Dr Björn Peters, who will be speaking on the topic at the Forum in Berlin this May.

For off-grid mining operations in hot climates, for example, “there might be a very good business case for solar storage” compared to diesel.

Within grids, meanwhile, storage can offer value in helping to balance out short-term fluctuations in intermittent renewable energy.

However, Peters’ research is worrying for policy makers who hope to rely completely on intermittent renewable energy generation to reach European carbon reduction targets. 
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Yunasko says supercaps sweet spot is at 100ºC

Dr Natalia Stryzhakova, head of Yunasko's research labs: “We are happy to get a low-cost ultracapacitor system capable of reliably working at temperatures as high as 100-110°C.” Pic: Yunasko.

Dr Natalia Stryzhakova, head of Yunasko’s research labs: “We are happy to get a low-cost ultracapacitor system capable of reliably working at temperatures as high as 100-110°C.” Pic: Yunasko.

By Jason Deign

Ukrainian ultracapacitor hopeful Yunasko is looking to set up large-scale manufacturing in China after proving a product that works at up to 100ºC.

“Right now, our company is focused closely on customised solutions,” said project manager Sergii Tychina. “We have limited manufacturing capabilities here in Ukraine [but] we have partners in China.”

The news last month that Yunasko’s technology had passed independent high-temperature tests at JME, a US-based firm owned by ultracapacitor expert Dr John Miller, has sparked a search for strategic partners, Tychina said.

The tests showed Yunasko’s ultracapacitors could last 2,000 hours, or about a million charge-discharge cycles, at 100ºC with an operating voltage of 2.39V.

“This is the highest operating voltage of any solution-based ultracapacitor,” said Yunasko in press materials, “at a fraction of the cost typically seen for ionic liquids.” 
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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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