60MWh redox flow battery order

In 2012, Sumitomo completed a demonstration power generation and storage system at its Yokohama Works – using the world’s then largest vanadium redox flow battery and Japan’s largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) units.  Photo credit: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

In 2012, Sumitomo completed a demonstration power generation and storage system at its Yokohama Works – using the world’s then largest vanadium redox flow battery and Japan’s largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) units. Photo credit: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

According to a report in the Nikkei, a Sumitomo Electric Industries vanadium redox flow battery will soon be helping Hokkaido Electric Power to store electricity in order to stabilise its grid network. The 60MWh device will allow Hokkaido to add increasing amounts of renewable energy to its grid, which serves millions of customers in the northernmost of Japan’s four major islands.
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Japan gets ready for fuel cell cars

Another indication that the dream of a hydrogen energy economy is slowly becoming a reality is the news from The Japan Times that the country is preparing to launch and support fuel cell vehicles. Toyota and Honda plan to release mass-market fuel cell vehicles in 2015 and Nissan will follow suit in 2017, says the article. Toyota officials are also claiming vehicles will retail at below ¥10 million (USD$97,400), increasing competition.

Of course, refueling infrastructure is vital to support the new vehicles. And by 2015, 13 Japanese companies, including automakers and oil distributors, aim to establish a total of 100 hydrogen supply bases, mainly in major cities. Currently, hydrogen stations cost around six times the price of an equivalent petrol station.

Energy storage heads east with ZBB

ZBB Energy has shipped an order from Moscow-based BPC Engineering for a complete ZBB EnerSystem, consisting of a ZBB EnerStore flow battery and ZBB EnerSection power and control centre, the company has announced. This shipment and the broader strategic relationship with BPC Engineering introduces ZBB’s line of products into the Russian market.

BPC Engineering, a supplier of distributed microturbine generation in the Russian market, will market, sell and support ZBB products.

New energy storage alliance launched

Officially launched with 70 founding members, the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA) states its mission is to “promote a path of cooperation and mutual support in achieving proactive solutions between all sectors within the photovoltaic (PV) power generation, battery storage and the smart grid technology value chain.”

The two men behind the new association are Bryan Ekus, managing director of the International PV Equipment Association, and Markus Hoehner, head of the Hoehner Research & Consulting Group.

Aimed at promoting networking and professional resources for “all those who produce and support solar, battery and energy services,” the IBESA costs €3,000 per year to join. We wish them every success and hope they will add to the development and adoption of energy storage.

Energy storage to the rescue in Japan

Cheap land on Japan’s Hokkaido Island has created something of a boom in renewable energy and this, in turn, has created an opportunity for energy storage, reports Bloomberg. There is now a substantial flow of highly variable solar power in dire need of the moderating influence of a 60MWh battery-based energy storage facility.

Part of a grid substation, the USD$204 million battery array will be installed by March 2015, according to a spokesperson for the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The project is among three plans that the ministry announced last week in response to the high concentration of solar projects in Hokkaido, where the island’s power grids are nearing their limit to handle an influx of clean energy.

As the country has added 1,394MW of clean energy, including 1,329MW of solar, between April last year and the end of this January, it looks like the demand for energy storage can only increase.

Japan’s big investment in energy storage

Less than a year ago, and a couple of months after the tsunami-fuelled nuclear crisis that engulfed the country, the Japanese government announced a three-year programme of subsidies for renewables-related technologies. Of this, reports The Lithium Review, around 20 billion Yen, or roughly USD$212 million or UK£140 million is being spent on stationary lithium-ion battery energy storage.

One of the key subsidies is to cover one-third of the cost of domestic systems and fuel adoption of energy storage at a household level. This is in addition to the attractive feed-in tariff (FIT) offered to home owners who want to sell any excess energy – from renewable sources like solar – to the grid.

Companies were not slow in taking the bait.

Panasonic currently offers systems that range from 4kW residential units, to full megawatt-scale power plants used to stabilise energy produced from solar and wind farms.

Kyocera has gone into partnership with Nichicon to produce a new domestic energy storage system, using Samsung’s SDI lithium cells. The two companies are hoping for first year sales of 10,000 units.

NEC, Orix and Epco Corp. have set their sights much higher. Their joint venture is aiming for 30,000-50,000 Japanese homes to adopt its residential energy storage system in the first year of sales, with 100,000 more homes every year after that.

Toshiba has also got involved – and is offering the 6.6kW eneGoon battery back up system, which integrates the company’s own SCiB cells.

If all this sounds familiar, that’s not surprising. Despite uncertainty over the future of its proposals, Germany has voiced a similar compromise to domestic subsidies and FITs.

And as in Germany, the commitment to energy storage makes a lot of sense. For example, Japan has a burgeoning domestic solar market. Not only that, but both Toshiba and Kandenko have announced investments in large solar plants only this week.

Yuasa faces new battery problems

It’s been widely reported that lithium-ion car batteries produced by GS Yuasa, the same Japanese company that supplies batteries for the grounded Boeing 787 jetliner fleet, have overheated in the last few days.

The problems this time are with lithium-ion batteries used in Mitsubishi’s iMiEV electric vehicle. The company revealed that two such units had caught fire on the assembly line during testing.

No one was hurt in the incident, that took place on 12 March this year, but it has knocked a sizable chunk off of Yuasa’s share price. Marc Birtel, a Boeing spokesman, has stated that test flights aimed at restoring grounded 787s to service will not be affected by this new issue, the company having been assured that “the battery in question is fundamentally different from the 787 battery both in its construction processes, design and chemistry.”