Smart new ways to store wind energy

Novel technologies for wind energy storage at EWEA 2014 included the GE Power & Water brilliant turbine, understood to have been installed by Invenergy.

Novel technologies for wind energy storage at EWEA 2014 included the GE Power & Water brilliant turbine, understood to have been installed by Invenergy. Photo credit: General Electric

Three novel ways to store wind energy went on show at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) 2014 annual meeting held in Barcelona, Spain, last week.

Two, aimed at short-term and longer-term storage respectively, were discussed during a hardware technology session that also looked at grid integration. The third, involving hydraulic storage, was among the poster presentations featured in the exhibition.

In the hardware technology session, Rajni Burra of GE Power & Water in the US shared the early operational experience of GE’s Brilliant turbine, believed to be the only fully integrated turbine-and-storage combination from a single vendor.
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Storage and the Scottish situation

REDT is testing a vanadium redox battery on Gigha. Is more investment needed for energy storage of renewable energy in Scotland?

REDT is testing a vanadium redox battery system on Gigha. Should government funding for energy storage of renewable energy in Scotland be a priority before possible independence from the UK? Photo credit: Patrick Mackie

Has anyone thought through what will happen to Scotland’s renewable energy generation if the country ends up exiting the UK? Right now Scotland is ploughing ahead with what amounts to one of the most ambitious renewable energy generation programmes in the world.

In June 2011 the Scottish government published a 2020 Route map for Renewable Energy in Scotland with a target to generate the equivalent of 100% of its own electricity demand from renewable sources by the start of the next decade.

“This does not mean Scotland will be 100% dependent on renewables generation,” observed a report titled Energy in Scotland (PDF Link), from March last year, “but rather that renewables will form the key part of a wider, balanced electricity mix.”

Quite so. September figures (PDF Link) from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that Scotland is already home to 44% of all wind generation in the sovereign state, just one percentage point below England.
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Ballard to drive euro bus market

Ballard hydrogen powered bus, Aberdeen

A Ballard hydrogen fuel cell bus. Pic courtesy of HyER

It may be a tiny pond… but Ballard Power Systems is convinced it will be the biggest fish in it. According to a recent press release, the company “anticipates powering approximately 40 of the 50 zero-emission fuel cell buses used in public transit revenue service on European roads in 2014.”

The largest number will be the 10-vehicle strong fleet in Aberdeen, Scotland. There is only one larger: the 20-bus fleet that has been operating in Whistler, Canada since 2010.

If these numbers seem small, it’s perhaps worth remembering that most if not all these deployments are seen mainly as demonstration programmes, with fuel cell innovators highly reliant on non-corporate support such as the Sustainable Development Technology Canada fund, as in Ballard’s case.

Mitsubishi to demonstrate energy storage

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and SSE (formerly Scottish and Southern Energy) are planning a 2MW lithium-ion energy storage system project in the Orkney Islands. The project aims at demonstrating power supply stabilisation in the region, which currently enjoys a large but variable quantity of wind-produced renewable energy.

It will be conducted with the support of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation of Japan and should go live in early 2013.

Scotland committed to pumped hydro

As reported yesterday exclusively in Marine Renewable Energy, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has let slip that the proposed development of offshore renewables in Scotland would include the creation of a new pumped-hydro storage facility in the Great Glen area.

This commitment comes as part of a recently announced plan to boost offshore wind power in Scotland with the opening of new Areva turbine plant that will manufacture nacelles and blades for deep-water wind farms in Scottish waters. The plant will employ 750 directly, and open in 2015.

Its exact location is yet to be decided, but is likely to be at Leith, on the Firth of Forth, or Dundee, both on the North Sea coast. The agreement between Areva and Scottish Enterprise, signed yesterday, will also include research and development activity.

Scottish pumped hydro plan challenged

It could create 150 local jobs and supply energy to around 1 million homes, says energy company SSE. But if the John Muir Trust has its way, the Coire Glas hydro scheme might never be built, according to Scottish newspaper The Herald.The Trust’s main objection is that is that the dual reservoir system cannot be classed as a source of renewable energy as it would use more energy than it could produce (an unassailable point, as it is clearly intended for energy storage rather than generation) and must obey the laws of thermodynamics.

This misleading complaint aside, the Trust says that the first new pumped hydro facility to be built since the mid-60s would ruin the local landscape and encourage more wind turbines, a renewable resource that the organisation has already attempted to demonise, if reports in the local press are anything to go by.

Due to the size of the project, ministers from the Scottish Parliament will have the final say on the matter, but any substantial objections by the local Highland Council would trigger a public inquiry which could result in the project being axed.