Helping people to ditch diesel

The need for off-grid energy storage is being promoted by groups such as the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE). Photo credit: ACCIONA Microenergía Perú

The need for off-grid energy storage is recognised by groups like the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE). Photo credit: ACCIONA Microenergía Perú

Energy storage could help remote communities ditch a nasty diesel habit, according to an article in Scientific American. For isolated communities being off-grid is not a matter of choice, but a fact of life, which means their daily lives are prey to the price of the diesel that feeds their generators.
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Batteries aren’t worth it to store wind

Wind farm

Batteries won’t work for wind. Pic courtesy of Gamesa.

Stanford University scientists have worked out that from an energy point of view it doesn’t make sense to store wind power in batteries. The energy cost of building the batteries is more than the value of the power that would be lost through curtailment.

The researchers compared the finding to the cost of storing cash in a safe, noting that it would not be worth paying USD$100 to store a $10 watch. Since wind power is so cheap, buying batteries to store the excess energy it produces is not worth the effort. This is not the case with photovoltaic energy, which costs more to produce in the first place.

Nor does it apply to other forms of energy storage: storing excess wind power in pumped hydro reserves, for example, is still energetically economical. The authors note that the value of batteries for excess wind energy storage could be improved by increasing their cycle life.

To be worth the investment for wind energy storage, batteries would have to last between 10,000 and 18,000 cycles, they say.

Solar storage market to reach $2.8bn

Corporations in the solar and energy storage sectors have long dreamed of combining the two technologies to differentiate products and defend margins. This match shows promise, yielding a USD$2.8bn market over the next five years, according to Lux Research.

Grid-tied solar installations will comprise 675MW, or nearly 95% of a combined 711MW market, while off-grid applications including telecom power claim the remaining 5%. While the off-grid market enjoys higher profit margins, the much larger addressable market for grid-tied systems means they dominate the solar and energy storage market.

“Developers are pushing packaged solar and storage systems in order to stand out as value-adding leaders, but not all benefit equally,” said Steven Minnihan, Lux Research senior analyst and a co-author of the report.

“Residential energy storage will see a boost in adoption due to solar, but the addition of storage will barely move the needle for solar players, driving a paltry 1% increase in global PV sales.”

China to spend $166bn on energy storage

Wind farm in Xingiang, China.

Wind farm in Xingiang, China. Photo credit: taylorandayumi

Analyst group Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) is predicting China could spend between USD$164bn and $192bn on energy storage between now and 2030. The figures are from a study released this week that considers four possible future energy scenarios for the Asian giant. BNEF’s favoured scenario, dubbed the ‘New Normal’, would see energy storage investments topping $166bn.
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CAES: ‘dramatic growth’ in next decade

According to a new report from Navigant Research, more than 11GW of compressed air energy storage (CAES) capacity will be installed worldwide from 2013 to 2023. Growth in the sector will partly be driven by advances in isothermal, or adiabatic, CAES, which can be sited anywhere and conveniently scaled using modular units, says Navigant.
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Opinion: the negative end of batteries

Batteries undergoing testing.

Batteries undergoing testing. Photo credit: O. Usher, UCL MAPS

This article was previously published in Marine Renewable Energy.

It was probably only to be expected in a market as young and fickle as energy storage. We spend our time espousing the benefits of battery storage then a study comes to light that puts those benefits in doubt.
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New inverter, storage and PV report

A fully integrated solar container, which includes central inverters and monitoring capabilities from AEG Power Systems – one of the companies discussed in the new report.

A fully integrated solar container with central inverters and monitoring capabilities from AEG Power Systems – one of the companies discussed in the new report. Photo credit: AEG

Inverter, Storage and PV System Technology 2013, published by Solarpraxis and Sunbeam Communications, takes a look at the important players in the photovoltaic solar market and also the opportunities for monitoring, inverters and energy storage.
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