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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Siemens is currently installing its first Sitras Energy Storage (SES) unit with supercapacitor technology in the US, on the TriMet Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Line.
The southeast Portland Tacoma substation location will house the first US storage unit that allows for energy created during braking to be stored and then re-used in one of two forms, energy savings or voltage stabilisation during peak demand times, says Siemens.
TriMet will use the system in voltage stabilisation mode to avoid problems that have led to disruptions in mass-transit operations. If a number of vehicles accelerate simultaneously, system voltage can drop below a critical level and result in instances of under-voltage tripping in vehicles and, consequently, disruptions in passenger service.
The SES ensures the system voltage always remains within the required range and voltage-related disruptions no longer occur.
Siemens is supplying the plant and German utility RWE Power is doing the testing, starting this month and continue until October. The planned facility will use surplus electricity generated by wind turbines to power the electrolysis of water via a proton into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen is then converted into methane, which is stored, then burned to produce either power or generate heat as required.
Although not the greenest form of energy storage – the burning of methane produces carbon dioxide – the pilot plant is certainly more eco-friendly than the highly-polluting, lignite-fired power station formerly run by RWE on the same site at Niederaussem, Germany.
It’s always good to see a project through to the end, so we were delighted to read in North American Wind Power that the Auwahi Wind facility in Hawaii, originally announced in May 2012, was now up and running.
According to owners Sempra US Gas & Power, and BP Wind Energy, the eight Siemens-supplied turbines on the site will generate enough clean energy to power about 10,000 typical Maui homes.
That power is being sold to Maui Electric Co. under a 20-year contract, and the project also features a 10 MW battery capable of storing 4.4 MWh, to plug the energy gap on less windy days, says the report.
Chinese auto giant Wanxiang has beaten US Johnson Controls, Japan’s NEC and German concern Siemens AG to scoop practically all of A123 Systems’ assets in what has become a controversial and politically charged contest.
According to A123’s press release, Wanxiang would acquire A123’s automotive, grid and commercial business assets, including all technology, products, customer contracts and US facilities in Michigan, Massachusetts and Missouri; its cathode powder manufacturing operations in China; and its equity interest in its joint venture with Shanghai Automotive.
Excluded from the asset purchase agreement with Wanxiang, which is worth USD$ 260 million, is A123’s government business, including all US military contracts, which would be acquired for $2.25 million by Navitas Systems.
Wanxiang had always said that it would forego these and it is hard to imagine that the sale to a large corporation in a competitor nation would have been politically feasible had they been included. Another bone of contention has been the many millions of US tax dollars that had been pumped into the ailing company over the years.
Politicians and commentators have been making plenty of hay over US-funded technology “heading east”. This could be a deciding factor when the sale is be approved (or blocked) by Delaware Bankruptcy Court at a hearing scheduled for today. Another is the fact that Wanxiang already generates about $1 billion of revenue in the US.
The Auwahi Wind farm will use Siemens wind turbines to generate enough renewable energy for approximately 10,000 average homes in Maui, say the participants. In addition, says North American Wind Power (NAWP) the wind farm is planned to have battery storage that will be able to store more than 4 MW, in order to help to regulate the intermittent wind power for the local grid.
Meanwhile, Green Car Congress reveals that troubled developer A123 will be supplying the battery system, including a Smart Grid Domain Controller to manage voltage regulation. The site disagrees with NAWP, however, citing an 11 – not 4 – MW deployment.
The Honolulu Star Advertiser brings the story back to earth with a pump by stating that Maui Electric Co.’s investment in its grid – including the ES element will cost the average household an extra USD$6.60 per month.