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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The second-life threat to non-lithium batteries

Second-hand batteries from electric vehicles such as buses could drastically cut the price of lithium-ion-based storage, research predicts. Photo: www.animam.photography

Second-hand batteries from electric vehicles such as buses could drastically cut the price of lithium-ion-based storage, research predicts. Photo: www.animam.photography

By Jason Deign

Lithium-ion’s potential to dominate the stationary storage battery sector may be stronger than previously thought, according to the implications of a new study.

Research published last week by the analyst firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) shows a glut of second-hand lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries from the auto industry could cut battery storage costs significantly.

By 2018, says Used EV batteries for stationary storage: second-life supply & costs, the cost of repurposing batteries for second-life applications could go down to as little as USD$49 per kWh.

This compares to a cost of roughly $300 per kWh for new batteries at the moment, and $160 for lowest-cost battery chemistries such as the zinc hybrid cathode technology being commercialised by Eos Energy Storage.

Given that BNEF expects around 10GWh of capacity from used electric vehicle batteries to be entering into the stationary storage market by 2025, second-life applications could deal a real blow to the prospects for non-Li-ion chemistries.
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Brexit fallout: higher UK energy storage costs

The UK's departure from the European Union is making storage more expensive.

The UK’s departure from the European Union is making storage more expensive.

By Jason Deign

One immediate result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union is likely to be higher energy storage costs, Energy Storage Report has learned.

The June 23 vote to split with the Union, led by England and Wales, sent sterling tumbling against the dollar. Each pound was worth USD$1.48 on the day of the referendum, versus $1.31 yesterday, an almost 12% drop.

Sterling has also fallen almost 9% against the euro, from €1.30 on June 23 to €1.19 yesterday. This means the cost of importing storage technologies has likely risen by around 10% in the last month.

Nor is it clear whether sterling’s malaise is likely to improve over time.

Joseph Wright of Pound Sterling Forecast this week said: “Moving forward I’m expecting the financial data to continue to disappoint on release, mostly due to the uncertainty created by the Brexit.
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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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ABB builds storage system in Italy

ABB will provide Enel Distribuzione with a battery energy storage system that will enable the utility to study the benefits of using such facilities in its distribution network. The system will be installed at the Contrada Dirillo distribution substation in Ragusa province in southern Sicily.

It can provide 2MW of power for up 30 minutes and will be housed in three factory-tested containers, two containing lithium-ion batteries and a third accommodating the power conversion and energy management systems. The control system enables local, and remote control and monitoring of the installation from Enel’s network control centre.

The power converter transforms the alternating current power used in the network to the direct current power needed by the batteries and vice versa.