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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Azores project key for island microgrid credibility

Gorona del Viento: poor performance means other island microgrids are under scrutiny. Photo: www.animam.photography.

Gorona del Viento: poor performance means other island storage projects are under scrutiny. Photo: www.animam.photography.

By Jason Deign

A project on Graciosa, Azores, has become key for the credibility of island-based storage following concerns over another plant more than 1,500km away.

The Younicos project on Graciosa is set to go live within weeks amid speculation that another attempt to power an island off renewables, in El Hierro, Canary Islands, has failed to meet expectations.

El Hierro’s Gorona del Viento plant, which combines an 11.5MW wind farm with a pumped hydro storage system, was launched with much fanfare in 2014. Its initial aim was to replace 80% of diesel generation needed for the island grid.

Last month, the plant operator revealed the EUR€82m Gorona del Viento had allowed El Hierro to run continuously off nothing but renewable energy for 55 hours.

And last week Gorona del Viento said the plant supplied 67% of the island’s power throughout July and had set a new record of 76 hours with 100% renewable production.
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Energy storage news: 03.09.14

Valhalla Energía is planning to build Chile's first hydroelectric pumped storage plant, Espejo de Tarapacá, for solar energy storage. Photo credit: Fundación Chile.

Valhalla Energía is planning to build Chile’s first hydroelectric pumped storage plant, Espejo de Tarapacá, for solar energy storage. Photo credit: Fundación Chile

Some of the energy storage news headlines from last week. Follow us on Twitter for more.

  • Highpower International’s electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries have been approved by China’s National Quality Control and Inspection Center for Buses.
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has come out with a proposal to make solar panels from old car battery materials.

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Living the renewable lifestyle

Enercon wind turbines at the Gorona del Viento wind and pumped hydro clean energy project, which will give El Hierro renewable energy sufficient to replace 80% of its diesel.

Enercon wind turbines at the Gorona del Viento wind and pumped hydro storage project, which will give El Hierro renewable energy sufficient to replace 80% of its diesel use. Photo credit: Animam for Energy Storage Report

A small island in the Atlantic is showing how energy storage can be used to help run on 100% renewable energy.

To get to El Hierro, in the southwest tip of the Canary Islands, you first need to fly to the provincial capital of Santa Cruz, in Tenerife, halfway along the island chain. There, a surprising sight currently greets visitors.

Alongside the cargo boats and cruise ships in the town’s busy port lie three hulking drill rigs.

The massive structures await the start of an oil prospection project green-lighted by Spain’s Minister for Energy, Trade and Tourism, Jose Manuel Soria, in the waters between Morocco and Fuerteventura in the eastern Canaries.

Soria’s steamroller approval of the project, with an OK being granted in principle even before the closing date for objections, has angered Canary Islanders.

The potential for oil extraction

They see the potential for offshore oil extraction as a threat to tourism, the main source of income for the islands.

“They’re probably here because if they were in Fuerteventura people would set fire to them,” says Olivier Bello, who works at Tenerife’s La Laguna University, nodding towards the drill rigs.

The islanders have good reason to feel concerned. After all, in El Hierro, less than 30 minutes flight time by prop plane from Santa Cruz, they are showing how there could be another, more sustainable energy economy.
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Pumped hydro energy storage in Europe and beyond

What's happening in pumped hydro storage in Europe and globally? Photo credit: Nam Ngum pumped storage plant, Alstom

What’s happening in pumped hydro storage in Europe and the rest of the world? Photo credit: Nam Ngum Pumped Storage Plant, Alstom

Thanks to its massive investment requirements and vast geographical impact, gigawatt-scale pumped hydro storage had fallen out of favour in many parts of the world.This includes Europe, where over 120 existing major projects, many built in the technology’s hey-day of the 60s and 70s, still make the region by far the biggest contributor to global pumped-hydro energy storage (PHES) from existing installations.

Ironically enough, it is environmental concerns more than capital costs that have slowed down the adoption of pumped hydro, just when a surge in environmentally-friendly energy has made the need for grid-scale storage increasingly attractive and necessary.
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Current trends and future bets

What role will offshore pumped hydro play in the future of energy storage? Photo credit: Green Power Island

We review energy storage trends in 2013 and look at the future of energy storage. Could 2014 be the year of offshore pumped hydro storage? Photo credit: Green Power Island

Energy storage has come a long way in the last 12 months. While the pace of change will undoubtedly not have been quick enough for many in the industry, the fact remains that interest in and awareness of energy storage as a critical component of future power generation strategies has increased significantly.

And within this general uptick in importance, a number of notable trends are starting to emerge. Some of them, such as the pressures on battery price and performance, have been around for a while and will continue to be highly relevant in 2014.

Ignoring such perennial issues, though, here are three points that we think were particularly significant in shaping the industry in the last year.
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Storage focus for Amsterdam event

Alpine and Nordic pumped storage plants, such as Edolo, provide cheap grid flexibility.

Alpine and Nordic pumped storage plants, such as Edolo, provide cheap grid flexibility. Photo credit: Grasso83

Energy storage and the challenges inherent to integrating renewable energy into utility power grids will be in focus at the European Utility Week Renewable Energy Integration & Energy Storage Conference from October 15 to 17 in Amsterdam.
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Green light for pumped hydro project

Lower Glyn Rhonwy Quarry, Wales.

Lower Glyn Rhonwy Quarry, Wales. Photo credit: Eric Jones

It might not be the biggest project of its kind, but at half a gigawatt the Glyn Rhonwy pumped-storage hydroelectricity scheme is still a milestone in grid-scale energy storage in the UK. And as of September 2 it has been the given official go-ahead to begin construction.
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