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. 
Read more →

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. 
Read more →

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. 
Read more →

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. 
Read more →

Military interest in energy storage remains strong

captura-de-pantalla-2016-10-12-a-las-17-12-07

The US Army is interested in using energy storage to improve tactical capabilities on the battlefield. Pic: Trish Harris.

By Jason Deign

Military enthusiasm for energy storage applications is at an all-time high, according to one supplier close to the industry.

“There’s no doubt that their interest is strong,” said Ryan O’Keefe, senior vice president of business development at the power conversion systems maker Ideal Power.

Energy storage is seen as one of a number of technologies that can help military chiefs offset costs and risks while allowing troops to operate more independently in the battlefield, he said.

“They identified quite some time ago that their military bases, wherever they are, are at the mercy of the electric grid. The military is clearly in planning mode for how to make their operations resilient.”

Ideal Power is currently working with “a couple” of military suppliers on how to improve frontline logistics and power quality.
Read more →

Powin uses batteries to charge batteries

captura-de-pantalla-2016-10-05-a-las-19-28-19

Intel’s award-nominated electric vehicle charging station avoids demand charges thanks to Powin Energy’s battery technology. Pic: Powin Energy.

By Jason Deign

Systems integrator Powin Energy could gain an award today for a seemingly bizarre energy storage application: using batteries to charge batteries.

The Oregon, USA-based company is among those shortlisted for a 2016 Energy Storage North America Innovation Award for an electric vehicle fast-charging station at the headquarters of microprocessor firm Intel.

The installation, in Santa Clara, California, uses Powin Energy’s Battery Pack Operating System (bp-OS) to manage 30kw and 43kWh of lithium iron phosphate storage linked to 15 SolarWorld PV panels with a capacity of 4.1kW.

The use of batteries for electric vehicle fast charging avoids the need for standard three-phase 208/277/480V AC connections and helps avoid high demand charges, said EV4, the firm that designed and manages the station.

The technology also makes it possible to place charging stations in areas where three-phase AC is hard or costly to obtain.

Read more →

The utility veteran’s choice of energy storage

Utility veteran Michael Niggli's decision to join the board of flow battery maker ESS is a vote of confidence for long-duration storage. Pic: ESS.

Utility veteran Michael Niggli’s decision to join the board of flow battery maker ESS is a vote of confidence for long-duration storage. Pic: ESS.

By Jason Deign

An executive appointment last month has signalled increasing confidence in the ability of flow batteries to tap into the promising market for long-duration energy storage.

Michael R Niggli, the former president and chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), joined the board of all-iron flow battery maker ESS Inc. amid a growing focus on storage applications exceeding four hours of duration.

“As the renewable energy trend continues to reach penetration levels of 25% to 35% and potentially well beyond, it’s evident that the impact on local distribution networks, and the entire grid, is going to be pretty profound,” Niggli told Energy Storage Report.

“That suggests there is a growing need for need for medium and long-duration storage.”

Electrical energy storage’s current focus on short-duration applications, such as frequency response, is partly a consequence of the still relatively low penetration of renewables in most grids and a need for ancillary services. 
Read more →

Why analogue utility rates in a digital world?

Doug Staker of Demand Energy.

Doug Staker of Demand Energy.

By Doug Staker, Demand Energy

They say anything can happen in a New York minute. Could one of these minutes change the way we look at demand management, though? After all, from an energy standpoint, not all New York minutes are the same.

Depending on the time of day, electricity in New York can vary significantly in price.

It’s hardly surprising: at certain times, Consolidated Edison (Con Ed), the utility serving New York City, has massive energy needs, peaking at around 13GW. That’s nearly a third of typical peak demand in the entire state of California.

At the same time, base-load production capacity is threatened by the possible closure of the Indian Point Energy Center nuclear plant.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s laudable aim is to replace nuclear fission at Indian Point with nuclear fusion… from the sun. Cuomo is putting USD$1bn into installing 3GW of solar power across New York State by 2022.
Read more →