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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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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GenCell’s secret for hydrogen world domination

GenCell fuel cell technology is being used for San Diego Gas & Electric substation backup power in California. Pic: GenCell Israel.

GenCell fuel cell technology is being used for San Diego Gas & Electric substation backup power in California. Pic: GenCell Israel.

By Jason Deign

GenCell, an Israeli fuel-cell maker, yesterday trumpeted a major win as part of an under-the-radar strategy to get utilities relying more on hydrogen.

The company said San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the Californian utility, would be installing GenCell G5rx fuel cells for substation backup power.

Bloomberg reported the deal would cover an initial three substations, with 27 more to follow within three years. SDG&E is keen to use fuel cells as a way of extending the backup power capacity at substations.

Backup power is a technical requirement at all utility substations. It is used to keep high-voltage circuit breakers open whenever there is a loss of power on the grid.

Most substations are equipped with lead-acid battery arrays that can supply backup power for up to eight hours. Beyond this, the utility usually has to switch to an alternative power source, such as a diesel genset. 
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Storage hopeful Alevo confirms PJM project

Alevo battery technology is entering commercial operation this month, as it installs six GridBank units for the PJM Interconnection Market. Pic: Alevo.

Alevo battery technology is entering commercial operation this month, as it installs six GridBank units for the PJM Interconnection Market. Pic: Alevo.

By Jason Deign

Alevo, a Swiss battery maker with operations in Concord, North Carolina, USA, has confirmed the first commercial delivery of its sulphur-based lithium-ion GridBank product.

The company is due to install six 2MW/1MWh GridBank units this month across three sites in Hagerstown, Maryland, to provide frequency regulation and other ancillary services to the PJM Interconnection Market.

Speaking to Energy Storage Report during European Utility Week last year, Alevo officials confirmed that two other projects were already “grid connected.”

The implication is that these two projects, a 8MW/4MWh deployment Lewes, Delaware, which was announced in March 2016, and a 10MW, 3MWh project in Georgetown, Texas, are non-commercial pilots.

According to the Charlotte Business Journal: “The company has taken longer than initially expected to get to commercial production of the battery and its control systems. 
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The value that led Enel to buy Demand Energy

Demand Energy installations are impressive... but it's the invisible energy storage software controlling them that is the real attraction for Enel. Pic: Demand Energy

Demand Energy installations are impressive… but it’s the invisible energy storage software controlling them that is the real attraction for Enel. Pic: Demand Energy.

By Jason Deign

Enel’s buyout of US project developer Demand Energy last week was largely down to a secret ingredient that has been cooking for several years.

While Washington State-based Demand Energy has a decent portfolio of projects in New York and closed last year with a microgrid deal in Costa Rica, the real lure for Enel is understood to have been its software platform, DEN.OS.

DEN.OS, which stands for ‘Distributed Energy Network Optimization System’, is a cloud-based platform for integrating energy storage and distributed generation that Demand Energy has perfected over the last eight years.

A critical early challenge facing the company was how to adapt its software to work in New York, a market characterised by longer-duration storage applications.

The market was of interest because the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan was creating new opportunities for storage to complement distributed generation in reducing demand, shifting load and adding resiliency. 
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Sharp: it’s the economy, stupid

Sharp is offering financing to make it easier for customers to buy storage products.

Sharp is offering financing to make it easier for customers to buy storage products. Pic: Otsu4, used under Creative Commons licence.

By Jason Deign

Electronics giant Sharp is pinning its hopes on no-brain financing to gain an uptick in underperforming US commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage sales.

In September the company, which is an important solar panel maker, introduced a new financing programme for commercial SmartStorage energy storage systems sold with PV.

The no-money-down finance offer is provided by an un-named lender with capacity for up to USD$25m in project funding, equating to around 12MW of installed capacity over the next 12 months.

The financing packages are designed to give C&I customers a saving of at least 5% of annual utility costs, with no upfront investment.

The customer signs an energy service contract similar to a power-purchase agreement, explained Carl Mansfield, general manager and founder of Sharp’s Energy Systems and Services Group. 
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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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