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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Could the grid stymie India’s storage plans?

Pumped hydro might not be the best option for long-term storage in India (pic: animam.photography).

Pumped hydro might not be the best option for long-term storage in India (pic: animam.photography).

 

By Jason Deign

Doubts over the strength of the grid have called into question a USD$17.2bn plan to build 10GW of pumped hydro storage in India.

Central Electricity Authority chairman SD Dubey unveiled the five-to-six-year pumped hydro programme last month.

The administration would be adopting pumped hydro to store excess power from India’s growing renewable energy sector because the storage medium is cheaper than batteries, he said.

But being able to store energy in pumped hydro reserves depends upon getting it to the dams in the first place.

And observers have questioned whether India’s grid is up to the task, particularly since it is already groaning under the impact of solar energy. 
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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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Why analogue utility rates in a digital world?

Doug Staker of Demand Energy.

Doug Staker of Demand Energy.

By Doug Staker, Demand Energy

They say anything can happen in a New York minute. Could one of these minutes change the way we look at demand management, though? After all, from an energy standpoint, not all New York minutes are the same.

Depending on the time of day, electricity in New York can vary significantly in price.

It’s hardly surprising: at certain times, Consolidated Edison (Con Ed), the utility serving New York City, has massive energy needs, peaking at around 13GW. That’s nearly a third of typical peak demand in the entire state of California.

At the same time, base-load production capacity is threatened by the possible closure of the Indian Point Energy Center nuclear plant.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s laudable aim is to replace nuclear fission at Indian Point with nuclear fusion… from the sun. Cuomo is putting USD$1bn into installing 3GW of solar power across New York State by 2022.
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UK energy storage: why a Brexit may be good

Britons discussing the Brexit in a pub yesterday. Photo: www.animam.photography.

Britons discussing the Brexit in a pub yesterday. Photo: www.animam.photography.

By Jason Deign

UK renewable energy interests could face significant market disruption if Britons vote to leave the European Union (EU) in a referendum this month.

But while sectors such as wind energy fret over what a so-called ‘Brexit’ could mean for European-led subsidy programmes, whether or not a departure could harm the UK’s nascent energy storage market is less clear-cut.

In particular, the fact that storage is already being deployed in the UK without any form of government support means further growth in the market may not be dependent on political links with Europe.

Last month, for example, the UK’s National Grid launched the first battery system in Great Britain to provide sub-second frequency response services.

Hertfordshire, England-based Renewable Energy Systems won the bid to provide 2MW of storage capacity under a four-year contract.
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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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Regulation to dominate today’s ESN meeting

 This week's UK Electricity Storage Network annual meeting is dominated by the future regulation of energy storage in the UK. Photo credit: OST Energy


This week’s UK Electricity Storage Network annual meeting is dominated by the future regulation of energy storage in the UK. Photo credit: OST Energy

By Jason Deign

The issue of regulation is set to tower over proceedings at today’s Electricity Storage Network (ESN) annual meeting the UK, Energy Storage Report has learned.

UK distribution network operators (DNOs) are keen to deploy storage but face regulatory hurdles due to a lack of definition over how to treat the assets, said Dr Jill Cainey, the ESN’s director.

In particular, from a regulatory point of view storage in the UK is treated as both a source of demand and of supply, since it does not have a class of its own. This means DNOs have to comply with two sets of regulation.

“That’s just not efficient,” blasted Cainey. “You and I could do whatever we like. As soon as it’s owned and operated by a supplier then that becomes a problem.”

Oliver Soper, co-founder and director of the energy technical advisory firm OST Energy, said: “For a DNO it’s a massive challenge.
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