Flow battery firm ESS boosts top team

An ESS all-iron flow battery at the Stone Edge Farm advanced microgrid, in Sonoma County, California. Pic: ESS.

An ESS all-iron flow battery at the Stone Edge Farm advanced microgrid, in Sonoma County, California. Pic: ESS.

By Jason Deign

Portland, Oregon, USA-based flow battery maker ESS has brought in a company growth strategy master to chair its board of directors.

The all-iron flow battery manufacturer last week announced its chairman would be David Lazovsky, the former president and CEO of Intermolecular, which supports advanced materials.

The appointment comes seven months after the addition of Michael Niggli, former president and chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric, to the ESS board.

Lazovsky founded NASDAQ-listed Intermolecular in 2004 and served as the company’s president and chief executive until to October 2014.

As president and CEO, Lazovsky led Intermolecular from early-stage start-up to a high-growth public company, said ESS in a press release. 
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The utility veteran’s choice of energy storage

Utility veteran Michael Niggli's decision to join the board of flow battery maker ESS is a vote of confidence for long-duration storage. Pic: ESS.

Utility veteran Michael Niggli’s decision to join the board of flow battery maker ESS is a vote of confidence for long-duration storage. Pic: ESS.

By Jason Deign

An executive appointment last month has signalled increasing confidence in the ability of flow batteries to tap into the promising market for long-duration energy storage.

Michael R Niggli, the former president and chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), joined the board of all-iron flow battery maker ESS Inc. amid a growing focus on storage applications exceeding four hours of duration.

“As the renewable energy trend continues to reach penetration levels of 25% to 35% and potentially well beyond, it’s evident that the impact on local distribution networks, and the entire grid, is going to be pretty profound,” Niggli told Energy Storage Report.

“That suggests there is a growing need for need for medium and long-duration storage.”

Electrical energy storage’s current focus on short-duration applications, such as frequency response, is partly a consequence of the still relatively low penetration of renewables in most grids and a need for ancillary services. 
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ICL bets on bromine for energy storage

Israel Chemicals Ltd. is investing in zinc bromide flow battery technology from companies like Primus Power and Redflow in a bid to grow the energy storage bromine market. Photo credit: ICL

Israel Chemicals Ltd is investing in zinc bromide flow battery technology from companies like Primus Power and Redflow in a bid to grow the energy storage bromine market. Photo: ICL

By Jason Deign

The manufacturing giant Israel Chemicals Ltd (ICL) is looking to support flow battery vendors in order to extend the market for bromine supplies.

The support will be in the form of energy storage deployments alongside ICL’s manufacturing centres and improvements to bromine compounds used by flow battery makers, said Charles Weidhas, CEO of ICL Industrial Products.

ICL is not considering flow battery company acquisitions at present, he told Energy Storage Report. “We are now talking to battery companies to see what we can do to support larger-scale applications,” Weidhas said.

“The thing that’s attractive for us is that we’re in the bromine business, and looking for ways to grow bromine. All analysts are optimistic that more and more batteries are going to be used.”

Last month ICL announced that it had installed a Primus Power EnergyCell zinc bromide-based flow battery at a manufacturing site in Rancho Cucamonga, California, USA, dedicated to the production of fire retardants.
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ViZn goes for flow battery growth

Redox flow battery company ViZn Energy Systems has announced a major production deal with Jabil Circuit that could see zinc-iron overtaking vanadium flow batteries.

Redox flow battery company ViZn Energy Systems has announced a major production deal with Jabil Circuit that could see zinc-iron overtaking vanadium flow batteries.

By Jason Deign

Redox flow battery manufacturer ViZn Energy Systems yesterday announced a deal with Jabil Circuit that could see production increasing to 80MW per year in 2016.

The manufacturing partnership should enable ViZn to fulfil in excess of 21MWh of “planned installations in hand,” Ron Van Dell, president and CEO, told Energy Storage Report.

ViZn currently has little more than 1MWh of installed systems in North America and Europe.

However, said Van Dell: “Our flow battery is capable of scaling to tens of megawatts, which makes it ideal for large-scale applications.

“As a result, both utility customers as well as commercial and industrial customers are particularly interested in ViZn’s product.”
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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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Nuclear bomb hits Areva’s flow battery programme

The Areva energy storage programme, including the Areva Schneider Electric flow battery project, is in doubt following the company's profit warning and share price meltdown. Photo credit: FlowBox, KIC-InnoEnergy

The Areva energy storage programme, including the Areva Schneider Electric flow battery project, is in doubt following a profit warning and share price meltdown. Photo credit: FlowBox, KIC-InnoEnergy

The future of a major flow battery initiative appears in doubt after news emerged yesterday of financial troubles at Areva, the French energy giant.

The company, which in October signed an energy storage cooperation agreement with Schneider Electric, announced yesterday afternoon it was suspending its financial outlook for 2015 and 2016 because of problems with its nuclear reactor business.

Areva is currently in a legal wrangle with Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), a Finnish nuclear power company, over the construction of a new European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) at Olkiluoto in Western Finland.

The project has been subject to major cost and schedule over-runs, with both parties blaming the other for causing the problems. Yesterday Areva and its Olkiluoto consortium partner Siemens updated an ongoing claim against TVO, to €3.4bn.

Until the matter is resolved there can be little certainty over when Areva will be paid.

Meanwhile the company is also awaiting the renewal of nuclear operations in Japan, other new reactor projects, recycling export contracts and an uptick in “the still lacklustre market for installed base services,” according to yesterday’s press release.
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Energy storage news: 15.01.14

Scientists at Harvard have demonstrated a cheap and reliable organic flow battery. The electrolyte is almost identical to a quinone found in rhubarb

Harvard scientists have demonstrated a cheap and reliable organic flow battery. The electrolyte is almost identical to a quinone in rhubarb. Photo credit: Eliza Grinnell, SEAS Communications

The energy storage news headlines from our Twitter feed over the last week.

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60MWh redox flow battery order

In 2012, Sumitomo completed a demonstration power generation and storage system at its Yokohama Works – using the world’s then largest vanadium redox flow battery and Japan’s largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) units.  Photo credit: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

In 2012, Sumitomo completed a demonstration power generation and storage system at its Yokohama Works – using the world’s then largest vanadium redox flow battery and Japan’s largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) units. Photo credit: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

According to a report in the Nikkei, a Sumitomo Electric Industries vanadium redox flow battery will soon be helping Hokkaido Electric Power to store electricity in order to stabilise its grid network. The 60MWh device will allow Hokkaido to add increasing amounts of renewable energy to its grid, which serves millions of customers in the northernmost of Japan’s four major islands.
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