Joe Pratt studies hydrogen fuel cell energy storage in ports at the Port of Oakland, California. Photo credit: Sandia National Laboratories
A hidden challenge for renewable energy, in terms of carbon reductions at least, is making sure your cure is not more damaging than your disease. Many types of renewable power plants, for example, contain large amounts of concrete and cement, the production of which involves significant greenhouse gas emissions.
The emissions involved in construction, from concrete or other sources, seem rarely to be included in calculations of the environmental benefit arising from renewable energy. Yet it is not inconceivable that a wasteful enough construction process might produce more carbon emissions than a project could save over its operating lifespan.
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Photo credit: Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories has released an updated handbook on energy storage. The book was created in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and was funded by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
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Sandia Labs has identified another promising market for fuel cells: the dockside. Fuel cells, says the organisation, have already proven themselves in powering mobile lighting systems, forklifts, emergency backup systems and light-duty trucks.
And now researchers have found hydrogen fuel cells may be technically feasible and commercially attractive as a clean, quiet and efficient power source for docked ships, replacing the crafts’ on-board diesel generators. Why might this be important?
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Potentially one of the biggest stories to hit the US sector for a long time, the news that the Department of Energy (DoE) has asked various state-owned national laboratories to set up a new research hub for batteries and other energy storage technologies has even made it into the New York Times.
Argonne National Laboratory, Sandia National labs and others will be receiving USD$120 million over five years to establish the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR). It will be a public-private partnership that will “aim to perform breakthrough basic research while working closely with JCESR’s industrial partners to convert new knowledge into market-ready, clean energy storage technologies,” according to the press release.
Private concerns will include Applied Materials, Clean Energy Trust, Dow Chemical and Johnson Controls. One of the key targets of the JCESR will be the 5-5-5 goal of a five-fold increase in battery power, at one fifth the current price, within five years. The JCESR is the latest of DoE’s four Energy Innovation Hubs, each of which addresses a specific national energy challenge.
Eight have been proposed by the Obama administration, but so far Congress has only agreed to fund five.
State-owned Sandia National Laboratories, in partnership with the US Department of Energy and consultancy DNV-KEMA have released a new tool to help utilities, developers and regulators identify the best energy storage options for their needs.
The ES-Select package is available free under a public license, and has been developed to make it easier to conduct a quick, high-level analysis of energy storage options and determine the value of energy storage technologies for a specified application. It is hoped that the tool will increase the adoption of energy storage technologies.