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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Moixa wants to install a million batteries by 2020

Moixa Energy Holdings wants its wall-mounted battery systems in a million homes by 2020. Pic: Moixa.

Moixa Energy Holdings wants its wall-mounted battery systems in a million homes by 2020. Pic: Moixa.

By Jason Deign

A UK energy storage system developer is looking to go from 650 installations today to 1m by 2020 with an aggregation-based residential business model.

London-based Moixa Energy Holdings is positioning itself as a utility’s friend by aggregating residential storage assets into a virtual power plant that provides ancillary grid services, then sharing the rewards with its customer base.

On its website, the company claims its GridShare service can earn homeowners between GBP£50 and £75 a year, or “almost 15% of the average electricity bill.”

Chief executive Simon Daniel told Energy Storage Report that 2016 was a scaling-up year for Moixa, which began piloting smart battery technology in 2012 and launched its current products two years ago.

The company is expecting to shift up to 100,000 storage systems within the next 36 months, Daniel said. And although Moixa is looking to bolster sales abroad, most of that capacity could go online in the UK. 
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Aquion cuts cost reduction target by eight years

Aquion expects to halve the cost of its batteries in as little as two years.

Aquion expects to halve the cost of its batteries in as little as two years.

By Jason Deign

Aquion Energy, the saltwater battery maker, has cut a 10-year, 50% cost reduction target by eight years within the last five months.

The company now hopes to halve the cost of its products in as little as 48 months, instead of the decade it had estimated in June this year.

“We’ll probably achieve that within two years,” confirmed chief commercial officer Tim Poor.

“We’re a new chemistry with lots of optimisation as yet to be factored in by additional innovation and improvements to the basic battery chemistry design.”

A 50% reduction would bring the wholesale price of Aquion’s Cradle-to-Cradle-certified products down to around USD$200 per kWh.
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HyperSolar moves along lonely path to hydrogen

HyperSolar is working to make it easier to create hydrogen on site at commercial and industrial locations, or even filling stations such as this one. Pic: Toyota.

HyperSolar is working to make it easier to create hydrogen on site at commercial and industrial locations, or even filling stations such as this one. Pic: Toyota.

By Jason Deign

US-listed technology firm HyperSolar is looking to develop a commercial-scale solar-powered hydrogen generation system after unveiling a working prototype last month.

The Santa Barbara, California-based company is hoping to give the hydrogen fuel cell industry a boost by removing one of hydrogen’s biggest problems: having to transport the gas over long distances.

Hydrogen “is expensive enough in the manufacturing process,” said Tim Young, president and CEO. “When you add on trucking it 500 miles in a pressurised truck, it stops making economical sense.”

Being able to manufacture hydrogen on site, using water and sunlight, could eliminate these costs and open up a vast array of potential energy applications, Young told Energy Storage Report.

These include “thousands and thousands of backup power plants” that “would all love to be hydrogen powered” because the fuel can be stored indefinitely until needed, he said. 
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