Finland sees growing role for energy storage

Energy storage in Finland set to grow, as Landis+Gyr installs the largest battery system in the Nordics, which will help stabilise the electricity supply in Helsinki. Pic: Pixabay.

Energy storage in Finland set to grow, as Landis+Gyr installs the largest battery system in the Nordics, which will help stabilise the electricity supply in Helsinki. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Finland’s nascent grid-scale battery market is set to expand rapidly in the coming years, according to Landis+Gyr’s Northern Europe CEO Ari Tolonen.

He told Energy Storage Report his company was pursuing four other energy storage projects in Finland after completing the largest battery plant in the Nordic countries earlier this year.

Up to 4MW of battery storage could be installed across the country “very soon,” he said. “I believe we will see three or four cases a year. I expect to see this kind of system everywhere.”

In August, Landis+Gyr commissioned a 1.2MW, 600kWh battery system for Helen Electricity, a distribution system operator covering the Helsinki area of Finland.

The €2m Helen storage facility was built alongside Finland’s largest solar plant, a 340kW array in Suvilahti, and will also serve an 850kW PV project being built at nearby Kivikko.   
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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. 
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Moixa wants to install a million batteries by 2020

Moixa Energy Holdings wants its wall-mounted battery systems in a million homes by 2020. Pic: Moixa.

Moixa Energy Holdings wants its wall-mounted battery systems in a million homes by 2020. Pic: Moixa.

By Jason Deign

A UK energy storage system developer is looking to go from 650 installations today to 1m by 2020 with an aggregation-based residential business model.

London-based Moixa Energy Holdings is positioning itself as a utility’s friend by aggregating residential storage assets into a virtual power plant that provides ancillary grid services, then sharing the rewards with its customer base.

On its website, the company claims its GridShare service can earn homeowners between GBP£50 and £75 a year, or “almost 15% of the average electricity bill.”

Chief executive Simon Daniel told Energy Storage Report that 2016 was a scaling-up year for Moixa, which began piloting smart battery technology in 2012 and launched its current products two years ago.

The company is expecting to shift up to 100,000 storage systems within the next 36 months, Daniel said. And although Moixa is looking to bolster sales abroad, most of that capacity could go online in the UK. 
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Aquion cuts cost reduction target by eight years

Aquion expects to halve the cost of its batteries in as little as two years.

Aquion expects to halve the cost of its batteries in as little as two years.

By Jason Deign

Aquion Energy, the saltwater battery maker, has cut a 10-year, 50% cost reduction target by eight years within the last five months.

The company now hopes to halve the cost of its products in as little as 48 months, instead of the decade it had estimated in June this year.

“We’ll probably achieve that within two years,” confirmed chief commercial officer Tim Poor.

“We’re a new chemistry with lots of optimisation as yet to be factored in by additional innovation and improvements to the basic battery chemistry design.”

A 50% reduction would bring the wholesale price of Aquion’s Cradle-to-Cradle-certified products down to around USD$200 per kWh.
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Military interest in energy storage remains strong

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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.
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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.

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What does the PV glut mean for energy storage?

Solar panel pricing is at an all-time low due to overcapacity in the market. Image: SunPower.

Solar panel pricing is at an all-time low due to overcapacity in the market. Image: SunPower.

By Jason Deign

Present forecasts of PV-and-battery adoption could end up significantly underestimating true adoption levels by not taking into account a massive glut in solar capacity.

Josefin Berg, senior analyst for solar demand at IHS Technology, told Energy Storage Report there are currently “several gigawatts’” worth of new solar panels worldwide that nobody wants to buy because of excess supply.

IHS alerted to the potential for manufacturing overcapacity in the PV market back in June, and has forecast there will be a shakeout among what few manufacturers are still left from previous oversupply and consolidation periods.

For now, however, as EnergyTrend noted: “Prices across the PV supply chain have collapsed to new lows in the second half of 2016 due to plunging demand.”

What will happen to the excess PV capacity currently sitting on the shelf is unclear, but in Australia CleanTechnica earlier this month predicted it would lead to a “big solar boom.” 
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Could the grid stymie India’s storage plans?

Pumped hydro might not be the best option for long-term storage in India (pic: animam.photography).

Pumped hydro might not be the best option for long-term storage in India (pic: animam.photography).

 

By Jason Deign

Doubts over the strength of the grid have called into question a USD$17.2bn plan to build 10GW of pumped hydro storage in India.

Central Electricity Authority chairman SD Dubey unveiled the five-to-six-year pumped hydro programme last month.

The administration would be adopting pumped hydro to store excess power from India’s growing renewable energy sector because the storage medium is cheaper than batteries, he said.

But being able to store energy in pumped hydro reserves depends upon getting it to the dams in the first place.

And observers have questioned whether India’s grid is up to the task, particularly since it is already groaning under the impact of solar energy. 
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