Energy storage’s skills gap: never mind the lithium, what about the talent?

Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplash

The energy storage industry needs to focus on building a pool of human talent, says David Hunt of Hyperion Executive Search. Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplash.

By David Hunt

Throughout my time in the clean energy sector there has always been talk of scarcity of supply. First it was silicon, then in the boom times of solar development it was solar PV modules themselves.
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ALACAES seeks CAES partners

ALACAES is looking for partners after proving its compressed air energy storage concept last year. Pic: ALACAES.

ALACAES is looking for partners after proving its compressed air energy storage concept last year. Pic: ALACAES.

NB: In our intelligence brief, we incorrectly stated that L’Azienda Elettrica Ticinese had pulled its investment out of ALACAES and that Airlight Energy had run into technical problems. This version corrects both statements.

By Jason Deign

ALACAES, of Lugano, Switzerland, is seeking institutional partners and investors to create the world’s first high-pressure advanced adiabatic compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant.

The company is looking for between USD$4m and $6m in funding to build a demonstration plant operating at 90 to 100 bar after proving its technology with a 7-bar pilot last year.

The 2016 pilot, with a capacity of 1MWh and a power rating of 600kW, was the first adiabatic CAES plant in the world, according to ALACAES.

On its website, the US Energy Storage Association (ESA) notes: “Advanced-adiabatic compressed air energy storage (AA-CAES) is an evolution of traditional CAES, designed to deliver higher efficiencies.

“Operation is similar to traditional CAES in that energy is stored by compressing air with turbomachinery and storing in an underground cavern. The difference lies in the treatment of the heat of compression.” 
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Will there ever be enough storage to go 100% renewable?

Calm, cloudy weather could spell the end of hopes for a Europe running off 100% intermittent renewable energy. Pic: Animam.photography.

Calm, cloudy weather could spell the end of hopes for a Europe running off 100% intermittent renewable energy. Pic: Animam.photography.

By Jason Deign

Using storage to even out intermittent generation in Europe may be a pipe dream at high renewable energy penetration levels, according to one researcher.

Dr Björn Peters, a former power systems financier who will be speaking at the upcoming Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin, said it would be uneconomical to build the level of storage needed to overcome calm periods.

His studies of European weather patterns over the years show the continent is hit by doldrums, or spells of cloudy, calm weather, up to twice a year, on average.

These weather patterns can last for up to two weeks at a time and extend over many thousands of kilometres, he said.

“To balance out this you would need 2,000 times the entire pumped-hydro capacity in Germany,” he told Energy Storage Report. “We have 45GWh and we would need about 80TWh at least. 
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Worldwide energy storage: a diverse and evolving market

One of the figures from the Energy Storage World Markets Report, published by the Energy Storage World Forum.

One of the figures from the Energy Storage World Markets Report, published by the Energy Storage World Forum.

By Mike Stone

A report published by the Energy Storage World Forum predicts continued rapid growth in energy storage worldwide.

The Energy Storage World Markets Report has been produced in partnership by Dufresne, the organisers of the Energy Storage World Forum, and analyst firm Azure, which is currently tracking storage projects that amount to around 3GW.

“Over the next 10 years,” states the report, “the combination of growing policy support and the emergence of commercial markets will propel the market into a new stage of growth.”

There are encouraging signs of market development and growth in different territories around the world, showing a highly diverse range of drivers, approaches and conditions, it says. 
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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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