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. 
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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.
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AMS to start series B fund hunt this month

Advanced Microgrid Solutions is on the hunt for new investors after growing its business using batteries supplied by Tesla. Pic: Tesla Motors.

Advanced Microgrid Solutions is on the hunt for new investors after growing its business using batteries supplied by Tesla. Pic: Tesla Motors.

By Jason Deign

Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) of San Francisco, USA, is readying for a new fundraising round that could kick off as early as this month.

The much-hyped project developer is looking to bring in more than the USD$18m it achieved in its last financing effort, which closed just under a year ago.

“We are about to launch our series B and that will be concluded this year,” chief commercial officer Katherine Ryzhaya told Energy Storage Report.

The money will be used to speed up the growth of the company, which currently has 2.5MWh of storage in operation and aims to have installed more than 5MW and 3.5MWh by the end of this year, according to Ryzhaya.

“With the series B we will only be scratching the surface of the opportunity within the US,” she said. “We also have customers with a focus on the UK and Japan.”
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Demand Energy announces project milestone

Demand Energy's DEN.OS software platform is helping New York buildings to benefit from the state's demand management programme. Pic: Demand Energy.

Demand Energy’s DEN.OS software platform is helping New York buildings to benefit from the state’s demand management programme. Pic: Demand Energy.

 

By Jason Deign

Demand Energy last week announced completion of the first five energy storage projects in New York’s Demand Management Program (DMP).

One of the five 100kW, 400kWh behind-the-meter energy storage systems installed in five separate Glenwood properties across Manhattan has already passed measurement and verification (M&V) testing.

M&V certification is currently underway with the other four projects within the DMP, which is managed by utility Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) along with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The aggregated behind-the-meter systems, with batteries from EnerSys, are powered by storage system developer Demand Energy’s Distributed Energy Network Optimization System (DEN.OS).

“We have been working during the off-peak season to install and interconnect the next four systems which make up the first 2MWh of installations for Glenwood,” said Shane Johnson, vice president of client services.
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Liquid air energy storage firm goes fundraising

Highview's pre-commercial demonstration plant is due to enter operation this summer. Image credit: Highview Power Storage.

Highview’s pre-commercial demonstration plant is due to enter operation this summer. Image credit: Highview Power Storage.

 

By Jason Deign

Highview Power Storage has launched a growth capital fundraising round amid commissioning for its first pre-commercial liquid air energy storage plant.

The 20-strong UK company is looking for an unspecified amount of cash but will most likely not be talking to venture capital (VC) investors, head of business development Matthew Barnett told Energy Storage Report.

“Rather than going down the VC route, we’re sticking with high-net-worth angel investors and strategic investors,” he said.

The latter group might include businesses that could add value to Highview’s offering, such as an engineering capability, a route to market or complementary technology, said Barnett.

“If a VC came up with GBP£15m then that’s a different story, but there’s a time and a place for a VC to be involved,” he continued. “Maybe we’re entering that now, maybe we’re not.
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Oil giants pile into energy storage

This five-year chart of Brent crude prices shows the pain oil companies have been experiencing since mid-2014... and why they might be looking to diversify into energy storage.

This five-year chart of Brent crude prices shows the pain oil companies have been experiencing since mid-2014… and why they might be looking to diversify into energy storage (chart: CNBC).

By Jason Deign

The last week has seen two Big Oil firms move into energy storage as continuing low prices for crude force petroleum sector players to diversify.

On Monday the French oil giant Total announced a friendly takeover of Saft Groupe, which specialises in batteries for the transport, industry and defence sectors.

The €950m purchase represents a 38.3% premium on Saft’s share price on the close of business the Friday before the announcement. It is also 41.9% above Saft’s weighted average share price over the previous six months, Total said.

“The acquisition of Saft is part of Total’s ambition to accelerate its development in the fields of renewable energy and electricity, initiated in 2011 with the acquisition of SunPower,” said Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s chairman and CEO.

“It will notably allow us to complement our portfolio with electricity storage solutions, a key component of the future growth of renewable energy.”
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Encell’s hardy battery targets emerging markets

By Jason Deign

Encell graphic: cycle life is determined by oxide solubility.

Encell claims to have a battery chemistry that can beat lithium-ion and lead-acid. Image: Encell.

Battery start-up Encell Technology is taking aim on emerging markets with a residential-scale product that bucks the current trend for sleek, eye-catching design.

The company’s Fused Iron batteries are visually unimpressive but able to perform better and withstand a much wider range of operating conditions than lithium-ion (Li-ion) rivals, said Encell chairman and founder Robert Guyton.

“There are fundamental trade-offs in lithium-ion when it comes to cost, cycle life and safety,” he said. “It’s a zero-sum game.”

Evaluating the trade-offs led Encell to select a nickel-iron battery chemistry instead.

Nickel-iron batteries have low specific energy and poor charge retention but are popular in mining because of their long operating life, of up to 20 years with regular cycling, and their ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions.

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Con Ed wants storage for virtual power plant

The Con Edison Clean Virtual Power Plant in New York will be based on solar and residential energy storage from Sunverge Energy and SunPower. Photo credit: Consolidated Edison

The Con Edison Clean Virtual Power Plant in New York will be based on solar and residential energy storage from Sunverge Energy and SunPower. Photo credit: Consolidated Edison

By Jason Deign

Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) is planning to test a residential storage-based virtual power plant (VPP) concept, Energy Storage Report has learned.

The investor-owned utility, which serves New York City and Westchester County in the US, is hoping to launch a pilot scheme this summer, said Griffin Reilly, project manager for the Con Ed Clean VPP concept.

Initially the project will test how much New Yorkers might be willing to pay on a subscription basis for grid resiliency services, essentially backup power, provided through a battery system installed on their premises.

Customers will not have to pay the upfront cost of the system because Con Ed will own it and reserve the right to sell the aggregated output of many such systems on the wholesale or distribution markets.

The utility is looking to have around 1.8MW and 4MWh of aggregated capacity across the VPP.
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