The concept that could put AC on ice

Ice Energy's remarkable storage compound is colourless, odourless and so safe you can drink it. Pic: Pixabay.

Ice Energy’s remarkable storage compound is colourless, odourless and so safe you can drink it. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Thermal energy storage such as that being commercialised by Ice Energy may have a much greater impact than just doing away with the duck curve.

If sold at scale, it could also effectively put traditional air conditioning (AC) out of business in large areas of the world where AC is essential for daytime workplace and home cooling.

Ice Energy is already bracing itself for growing demand in sunny US territories where increasing distributed solar penetration is causing regulators to move away from net metering plans.

In places such as Hawaii, the shift away from net metering is depriving solar-equipped homeowners of electricity bill reductions and forcing them to look at alternative ways to save money with PV. Powering AC units is one option.

AC is one of the biggest daytime and evening energy loads of households in hot locations. With net metering, much of electricity you need to drive AC units can come for free from any excess you have poured into the grid. 
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Ice Energy’s plan to end the duck curve

Ice Energy hopes to counter the Californian duck curve by replacing traditional air conditioning with ice energy storage. Pic: Ice Energy.

Ice Energy hopes to counter the Californian duck curve by replacing traditional air conditioning with ice energy storage. Pic: Ice Energy.

By Jason Deign

Thermal energy storage developer Ice Energy is gearing up to increase sales of a product that has the potential to end California’s famous ‘duck curve’.

The Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) has already announced plans to buy up to 100 of Ice Energy’s Ice Bear 20 residential cooling systems, which completed testing about a month ago.

The 20 ton-hour systems use energy when there is excess production, for example at night, to create ice that is then used for cooling during peak electricity consumption periods, such as evenings.

“At 9.6kW per Ice Bear 20, the order will potentially add nearly 1MW of new energy storage and peak demand reduction capacity to the SCPPA network, saving energy, improving efficiency and reducing emissions,” said Ice Energy.

The deal marks Ice Energy’s debut in the residential energy storage market, a move the company unveiled in Energy Storage Report last year, and follows growing utility interest in using Ice Bears for demand response. 
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Viking launches solar-and-cold-storage combo

By Jason Deign

Viking Cold Solutions, a US thermal energy storage start-up, is launching what is likely the world’s first solar-plus-cold-storage combination at Hannover Messe, Germany, this week.

Pic: Viking Cold is aiming to tie its phase-change material cold storage with solar.

Viking Cold is aiming to tie its phase-change material cold storage with solar. Photo: Viking Cold.

Energy Storage Report understands the offering is not so much an integrated product as a concept aimed at raising awareness of the efficiency of cold storage over batteries.

Using cold storage with grid power can improve the efficiency of energy use by up to 34%, Viking Cold claimed.

Combined with solar, it could cut ongoing energy costs much further while providing a quicker return on investment (ROI) than batteries, the company said.

“We aim for a three-year payback,” said James Bell, president and CEO. “Our return on investment is based on energy savings. The bigger the facility, the bigger the savings. It can be tens of thousands of dollars a year.”
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Ice Energy consumer product slated for 2017

Ice Energy, the thermal energy storage company, will offer a residential variant of its Ice Bear 20 next year. The product combines ice storage and air conditioning. Photo credit: Sandia

Ice Energy, the thermal energy storage company, will offer a residential variant of its Ice Bear 20 next year. The product combines ice storage and air conditioning. Photo credit: Sandia

By Jason Deign

Ice Energy, the thermal energy storage player, is planning to offer a consumer variant of its new Ice Bear 20 product next year.

The product will use ice for air conditioning and will likely have a little less than the Ice Bear 20’s current four hours of storage, CEO Mike Hopkins told Energy Storage Report.

It will cost slightly more than a new air conditioning system. But it could come in “a little bit under the cost of air conditioning if you take account of rebates in California,” Hopkins said.

The Ice Bear 20, a 20 ton-hour ‘ice battery’ launched at the beginning of this month, is already designed to replace household air conditioning units in what Hopkins termed “a standard-sized home” in the US, measuring around 230m2.

However, Ice Energy is targeting the Ice Bear 20 at utilities wanting to gain greater control of consumer energy loads. Hopkins said National Grid had already expressed an interest in deploying the product in Nantucket, USA.
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Who would want Abengoa’s assets?

Abengoa bankruptcy: Who might buy the company's CSP plant assets in Chile, South Africa and the USA, or invest in Abengoa Yield? Photo: Mojave Solar Project, Abengoa

Abengoa bankruptcy: Who might buy the Spanish company’s CSP plant assets in Chile, South Africa and the USA, or invest in Abengoa Yield? Photo: Mojave Solar Project, Abengoa

By Jason Deign

Abengoa, the Spanish renewable infrastructure developer, is thought to be hunting buyers for assets, including a large amount of storage, as it faces bankruptcy.

The company filed for preliminary creditor protection a fortnight ago after failing to secure funds from investors led by Gonvarri Corporación Financiera. It now has four months to secure an agreement with creditors.

Given scale of the business, which employs 7,000 people in Spain and many more abroad, it is possible the company might be bailed out by whichever party wins general elections in Spain this December 20.

In any event, however, it seems likely the business will be forced to sell much of its project portfolio to offset debts that may amount to more than €20bn.

According to data from Abengoa’s website, that portfolio includes a total of 27 hours of molten salt storage tied to some 360MW of solar thermal plant generation, spread across three projects in South Africa and one in Chile.
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The case for concrete energy storage

Is the EnergyNest concrete thermal energy storage system at Masdar Solar Hub, based on Heatcrete made with HeidelbergCement Group, a game changer? Photo: Masdar Institute

Is the EnergyNest concrete thermal energy storage system at Masdar Solar Hub, based on Heatcrete made with HeidelbergCement Group, a game changer? Photo: Masdar Institute

By Jason Deign

The Norwegian firm EnergyNest is expected to announce the outcome of a pilot of its concrete-based thermal energy storage (TES) product soon, potentially within days.

In September the company’s CEO, Christian Thiel, told SmartGridToday that the company was due to complete tests of the product, Heatcrete, “by next month.”

The company’s website, meanwhile, says a “first-of-its-kind” solid-state TES pilot at Masdar Institute’s Solar Platform in Abu Dhabi will deliver full validation of EnergyNest’s “potentially game-changing technology” at some point in 2015.

The Abu Dhabi pilot is part of a joint research project that has been underway since 2013. The 500kWh pilot itself began in May.

“The project will effectively demonstrate the operational and economic feasibility of concrete-based energy storage vis-à-vis other TES systems currently in the market,” says EnergyNest.

“EnergyNest and Masdar Institute aim to prove that incorporating this new technology into commercial solar thermal projects allows project developers to derive significant benefits and savings.”
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SolarReserve chases even hotter molten salt

SolarReserve, the solar thermal power plant developer, intends to dramatically increase the temperature of molten salt storage with a grant from the SunShot Initiative. Photo credit: Crescent Dunes, SolarReserve

SolarReserve, the solar thermal power plant developer, intends to dramatically increase the temperature of molten salt storage with a grant from the SunShot Initiative. Photo credit: Crescent Dunes, SolarReserve

By Jason Deign

SolarReserve, the solar thermal plant developer, is going after molten salt storage systems of more than 700ºC with a USD$2.4m award from the US government.

The award, announced last Wednesday, comes from the US Department of Energy SunShot Initiative’s Concentrating Solar Power: Advanced Projects Offering Low LCOE Opportunities (CSP: APOLLO) programme.

It will be used with matching funds from SolarReserve and other commercial partners to develop a new form of high-temperature ceramic receiver, according to Tim Connor, SolarReserve’s vice president of engineering and technology.

This “breaks through current temperature and performance barriers, while meaningfully increasing efficiency, energy storage capabilities and lowering capital cost,” Connor said in a press release.

The receiver technology should raise operating temperatures in molten salt power tower solar thermal plants by some 300ºC from a current maximum of around 565ºC.
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Abengoa: could molten salt do peaker job?

Abengoa solar thermal energy storage systems having proved successful in the US, the company is now marketing standalone molten salt storage systems as a replacement to gas peaker plants.

Abengoa solar thermal energy storage systems having proved successful in the US, the company is now also marketing standalone molten salt storage systems as replacements for gas peaker plants. Photo credit: Abengoa

By Jason Deign

Abengoa, perhaps best known for massive solar thermal plant such as Solana and Mojave, is pitching standalone molten salt storage systems and solar generation-connected thermal storage as a replacement for gas peakers.

The multinational infrastructure developer is already marketing standalone storage projects in the US, Abengoa confirmed in an interview with Energy Storage Report in the run-up to Energy Storage USA 2015 next week.

“Given the experience we have with existing plants [Solana has six hours of molten salt storage], thermal standalone storage is already at commercialisation stage,” said Amparo Pazos Cousillas, director of sales and marketing for Abengoa Solar in the US.
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