Our most-read stories of 2016

Last year's hottest stories in Energy Storage Report. Pics: Electro Power Systems, Aquion Energy, Kreisel Electric, Capacitor Sciences, SunPower and Concept by US.

Last year’s hottest stories in Energy Storage Report. Pics: Electro Power Systems, Aquion Energy, Kreisel Electric, Capacitor Sciences, SunPower and Concept by US.

By Jason Deign

The year 2016 will probably be remembered as the point at which energy storage began to take off in earnest.

Projects came thick and fast as interest in storage extended quickly beyond early hotspots such as California and Germany.

We saw grid-scale storage playing a starring role in the UK’s frequency response market, while battery makers jostled for position in an increasingly buoyant Australian consumer market. And that was just a couple of examples.

Almost every major energy market in Asia, Europe and North America had a storage story to tell. But which were the ones that caught your eye? Here’s a rundown of our most popular headlines from 2016. 
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The rise of electric vehicles: what can it lead to?

GUEST POST by Rhys Walker, cost estimator, Glenmore Investments

According to the latest predictions, the cost of electric vehicles is likely to be the same as their internal-combustion counterparts by 2022, while by 2040 this price is predicted to become even lower.

Skeptics would say that predictions should not be taken too seriously as they are always to some extent based on merely subjective opinions. This is absolutely right, just like is the fact that electric car sales continue to increase.

Statistics say that global sales increased by approximately 80% in 2015 compared to 2014, from 315,519 to 565,668, while by the end of 2016 the number of electric cars on the world’s roads is expected to exceed 2 million.

By 2040, for instance, electric vehicles would account for 35% of all new vehicle sales. What this implies is that even if some years or numbers in such sort of predictions may be inaccurate, the tendency of sales growth is definitely strong and cannot be doubted.
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Demand Energy ends year with Costa Rica deal

Demand Energy's battery systems will go towards helping Costa Rica maintain its pristine environment. Pic: Pixabay.

Demand Energy’s battery systems will go towards helping Costa Rica maintain its pristine environment. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Energy storage systems developer Demand Energy and Latin America microgrid pioneer Rio Grande Renewables this week announced a record-breaking project in Costa Rica.

The two companies have commissioned a battery storage-plus-solar-PV microgrid at Establishment Labs, a Costa Rican medical manufacturing plant, said Demand Energy in a press release.

The microgrid is said to be the largest in Central America and includes a 500kW, 1MWh lithium-ion battery connected to 276kW of solar PV.

The system is designed to provide multiple on-site and grid-assisting services, including peak demand reduction, solar variability smoothing and backup power for critical loads in the event of an outage.

It is controlled by Demand Energy’s Distributed Energy Network Operating System (DEN.OS™), which optimises how energy storage, distributed generation and other distributed energy resources interact and perform. 
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Study unveils secrets of long-duration storage

About 30% of energy storage procurement decision makers interviewed for the ESS study Beyond Four Hours said long-duration storage was “very important” for their business already. Image: ESS.

About 30% of storage procurement decision makers interviewed for the ESS study Beyond Four Hours said long-duration storage was “very important” for their business already. Image: ESS.

By Jason Deign

More than half of upcoming energy storage projects could require assets with a discharge duration of around four hours or more, according to new research.

About 30% of energy storage procurement decision makers interviewed for the ESS study Beyond Four Hours said long-duration storage was “very important” for their business already.

Another 30% said they were currently considering long-duration storage projects, 20% said it would be important in future and 10% considered it as part of a broader portfolio. Only 10% said it was not applicable to their business.

The research, carried out among energy storage procurers and project developers in association with Energy Storage Report, revealed a wide range of definitions for what constitutes a ‘long-duration’ asset.

But six out of 10 respondents claimed a requirement of more than four hours, which is generally considered beyond the cost-effective range of lithium-ion batteries commonly used for shorter-duration electricity storage. 
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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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Skeleton’s crew expands with German focus

Skeleton Technologies pitched to investors at The Business Booster in Barcelona (pic: InnoEnergy).

Skeleton Technologies pitched to investors at The Business Booster in Barcelona (pic: InnoEnergy).

By Jason Deign

Skeleton Technologies is expanding its top team and contemplating further cash injections as its sets its sights on a precious German market.

The Estonian ultracapacitor maker, which has so far raised €26.7m in funding, is looking for a vice president of global sales as it expands manufacturing into Germany, which is expected to account for a fifth of its global market.

The company was also showing off to potential investors and customers at a showcase event called The Business Booster (TBB), in Barcelona, Spain, last Thursday.

Having closed its round C funding, for €13m, this summer, programme director Egert Valmra appealed to TBB’s audience for a round D injection in support of UCGEN3, a ‘next-generation’ ultracapacitor programme led by Skeleton.

In the meantime, however, Skeleton is focusing attention on scaling up production in Estonia and building a presence in Germany, where it opened a factory this year. 
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Why you should aim for an open business model

Delegates at next year's Energy Storage Europe Conference will hear a plea for open business models (Pic: Energy Storage Europe 2016).

Delegates at next year’s Energy Storage Europe Conference will hear a plea for open business models (Pic: Energy Storage Europe 2016).

Energy storage developers and asset owners should aim to be technologically neutral to make the most of global markets, experts will hear next year.

Florian Mayr, partner and storage expert of management consultancy Apricum, is due to make the case for technologically open business models at the Energy Storage Europe Conference 2017 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

These models can benefit most from the growth of international storage markets as flexibility becomes a key factor for success in the industry, he claims.

“Today storage markets are still comparatively small and characterised by individual, often geographically determined application cases,” he said. 
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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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