Your five top stories of 2014

Energy Storage Report 2014 review: battery prices, distributed energy storage, the Alstom takeover, vanadium redox flow batteries and energy return on investment. Photo credit: Animam for Energy Storage Report

Energy Storage Report 2014 review: battery prices, distributed energy storage, the Alstom takeover, vanadium redox flow batteries and energy return on investment. Photo credit: Animam for Energy Storage Report

It’s already dimming in the memory. But before 2014 fades out of sight completely, let’s remember this was an important 12 months for energy storage.There was plenty of the usual hype, of course, but also a real sense that energy storage was being taken seriously at last… and some pretty big stories. Of all our headlines over the last 12 months, these are the ones that you were most keen to read.

1. Why you might want to give up this year’s profit

In January we reported on how a handful of battery makers could force an industry showdown by taking a long-term bet on market dominance and lowering prices. And if they did not, there was a good chance automakers might force price reductions anyway.

Our prediction was that the battery market was reaching a tipping point similar to that seen a few years ago in the photovoltaic (PV) solar sector, where one or two players could trigger a wave of consolidation by launching cut-price products.
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What the Alstom deal means for storage

What will the takeover of Alstom by GE or Siemens mean for the future of the energy storage market? Photo: GE Energy Storage

What will the takeover of Alstom by GE or Siemens mean for the future of the energy storage market? Photo credit: GE Energy Storage

GE’s planned takeover of the Alstom energy business would strengthen the American company’s presence in storage but will not shake up the market, experts claim.

The prediction comes amid pressure from the French government for Alstom shareholders to reject a USD$17bn bid from GE in favour of a rival proposal from Siemens, the German multinational.

“Alstom, GE and Siemens are all involved in energy storage but only GE has made a tangible impact to date, via its division GE Energy Storage,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance associate Logan Goldie-Scot told Energy Storage Report this week.
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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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Who owns half the storage market?

Alstom, reportedly the world's leading energy storage company, recently inaugurated a Smart Grid Excellence Centre in Montpellier, France.

Alstom, reportedly the world’s leading energy storage company, recently inaugurated a Smart Grid Excellence Centre in Montpellier, France. Photo credit: Alstom

Alstom, Voith and Gridflex have half the energy storage market. Well, 48% of the world’s total storage capacity to be precise, says Navigant Research, and that’s from what it describes as the “measureable market”. According to the company’s Energy Storage Tracker 3Q13, Alstom has 19%, Voith 16% and Gridflex Power 13%.
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Pumped hydro key to Euro project

eStorage, a European power consortium, has been awarded a €13.3 million grant by the European Commission to develop flexible, reliable, GWh-scale energy storage across the European Union and to enhance grid management systems to allow the integration of a large share of renewable energy.

Central to the project will be upgrading the Le Cheylas fixed-speed pumped storage hydroelectric plant to provide an extra 70MW of nighttime regulation capability, which in turn will allow the integration of several hundred megawatts of intermittent renewable generation.

eStorage is led by power and transport company Alstom and the consortium also includes Elia, a transmission system operator; EDF, a generation company; Imperial College, London, an academic Institution; DNV Kema, an engineering consultancy and testing and certification company; and Algoé, a management consultancy.

It is hoped that the project will help in the ongoing challenge of integrating Europe’s renewable energy resources into the continent’s grid.