Flow battery firm ESS boosts top team

An ESS all-iron flow battery at the Stone Edge Farm advanced microgrid, in Sonoma County, California. Pic: ESS.

An ESS all-iron flow battery at the Stone Edge Farm advanced microgrid, in Sonoma County, California. Pic: ESS.

By Jason Deign

Portland, Oregon, USA-based flow battery maker ESS has brought in a company growth strategy master to chair its board of directors.

The all-iron flow battery manufacturer last week announced its chairman would be David Lazovsky, the former president and CEO of Intermolecular, which supports advanced materials.

The appointment comes seven months after the addition of Michael Niggli, former president and chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric, to the ESS board.

Lazovsky founded NASDAQ-listed Intermolecular in 2004 and served as the company’s president and chief executive until to October 2014.

As president and CEO, Lazovsky led Intermolecular from early-stage start-up to a high-growth public company, said ESS in a press release. 
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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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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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Ice Energy’s plan to end the duck curve

Ice Energy hopes to counter the Californian duck curve by replacing traditional air conditioning with ice energy storage. Pic: Ice Energy.

Ice Energy hopes to counter the Californian duck curve by replacing traditional air conditioning with ice energy storage. Pic: Ice Energy.

By Jason Deign

Thermal energy storage developer Ice Energy is gearing up to increase sales of a product that has the potential to end California’s famous ‘duck curve’.

The Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) has already announced plans to buy up to 100 of Ice Energy’s Ice Bear 20 residential cooling systems, which completed testing about a month ago.

The 20 ton-hour systems use energy when there is excess production, for example at night, to create ice that is then used for cooling during peak electricity consumption periods, such as evenings.

“At 9.6kW per Ice Bear 20, the order will potentially add nearly 1MW of new energy storage and peak demand reduction capacity to the SCPPA network, saving energy, improving efficiency and reducing emissions,” said Ice Energy.

The deal marks Ice Energy’s debut in the residential energy storage market, a move the company unveiled in Energy Storage Report last year, and follows growing utility interest in using Ice Bears for demand response. 
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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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Convergent toasts pure-play developer model

Convergent is helping its customers cut costs using storage. Pic: Convergent.

Convergent is helping its customers cut costs using storage. Pic: Convergent.

By Jason Deign

New York, USA-based Convergent Energy and Power is seeing the fruits of sticking to a pure-play developer model after building a 75MW, 200MWh project pipeline.

Johannes Rittershausen, Convergent’s CEO, told Energy Storage Report that behind this pipeline of projects in operation, being built or under contract there was “hundreds of megawatts … of deals we’re working on.”

Even though the company is currently focused on just two countries, the USA and Canada, its business has been doubling every year for the last couple of years.

In the next couple of years, said Rittershausen, “I could easily see a scenario where we could do better than that. We can barely keep up. It’s a great market to be in.”

The most recent addition to Convergent’s portfolio is the 7MW, 7MWh Sault Ste Marie plant in Ontario, Canada, being built to store wind and solar energy under a three-year contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). 
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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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