Convergent toasts pure-play developer model

Convergent is helping its customers cut costs using storage. Pic: Convergent.

Convergent is helping its customers cut costs using storage. Pic: Convergent.

By Jason Deign

New York, USA-based Convergent Energy and Power is seeing the fruits of sticking to a pure-play developer model after building a 75MW, 200MWh project pipeline.

Johannes Rittershausen, Convergent’s CEO, told Energy Storage Report that behind this pipeline of projects in operation, being built or under contract there was “hundreds of megawatts … of deals we’re working on.”

Even though the company is currently focused on just two countries, the USA and Canada, its business has been doubling every year for the last couple of years.

In the next couple of years, said Rittershausen, “I could easily see a scenario where we could do better than that. We can barely keep up. It’s a great market to be in.”

The most recent addition to Convergent’s portfolio is the 7MW, 7MWh Sault Ste Marie plant in Ontario, Canada, being built to store wind and solar energy under a three-year contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). 
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New report reviews top US projects

Grid-scale energy storage projects in the USA are causing problems for utilities, according to a report from Energy Storage Update. Photo: Borrego Springs microgrid, San Diego Gas & Electric Company

Grid-scale energy storage projects in the USA are a challenge for utilities, says an Energy Storage Update report. Photo: Borrego Springs microgrid, San Diego Gas & Electric

By Jason Deign

Grid-scale energy storage projects are still a challenge for US utilities, according to a new report from Energy Storage Report sponsor Energy Storage Update.

The free US Energy Storage Projects and Prospects Guide 2016 focuses on three leading battery plants and reveals two of them have experienced significant setbacks since they started.

Notrees, which is owned by Duke Energy in Texas, and Tehachapi, belonging to Southern California Edison (SCE) in California, both had problems with battery vendors and have subsequently had to overcome additional hurdles.

At Notrees, a 36MW, 24MWh plant that was commissioned in October 2012, the original battery provider, Xtreme Power, went out of business. The vendor’s assets ended up with the German energy storage project developer Younicos.

At the same time, however, Duke discovered the advanced lead-acid batteries installed by Xtreme were a poor fit to the storage applications emerging at Notrees, which was leading to more rapid battery degradation than expected.
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Storage put to test in Orange County pilot

The Southern California Edison Preferred Resources Pilot in Orange County is pitting distributed renewable energy and energy storage against the solar duck curve. Photo credit: SCE

The Southern California Edison Preferred Resources Pilot in Orange County is pitting distributed renewable energy and energy storage against the solar duck curve. Photo credit: SCE

By Jason Deign

Batteries look set to face a major challenge in a pilot where energy delivery is needed when it makes more commercial sense to store it.

The business model for storage will be tested to the full in the Southern California Edison (SCE) Preferred Resources Pilot (PRP) because load peaks are expected to coincide with maximum solar output periods.

This means energy in the pilot area of central Orange County, California, will be at its cheapest precisely when it would usually be best to store power rather than discharge it.

The unusual set of circumstances is likely to occur because the area has heavy daytime peak loads with little local generation capacity following the closure of the 2.2GW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

As a result, energy needs to be brought in from outside the area, straining the transmission network served by two SCE substations, Johanna and Santiago, and increasing flows with neighbouring San Diego Gas & Electric’s grid.
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AMS on growth plans, new investor

The rapid growth of Advanced Microgrid Solutions continues as it prepares to announce a new major global investor, after signing contracts for Tesla energy storage, and with Shell and Southern California Edison. Photo credit: Tesla Motors

Advanced Microgrid Solutions is set to announce a new major global investor, after signing contracts for Tesla energy storage, and with Shell and Southern California Edison. Photo credit: Tesla Motors

By Jason Deign

San Francisco, California-based start-up Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) has confirmed it is set to announce “a very large global strategic” investor, probably later this month.

The investor, described as being active “both on the investment side and on the energy generation owner and service side” is set to join existing backer DBL Partners in an “over-subscribed” USD$10m new funding tranche.
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Report reveals risk for energy storage technologies in US

A new report shows emerging energy storage technologies in the US may face challenges as utilities stick to tried-and-tested technologies. Photo credit: Discovery Cube OC science centre, site of a Southern California Edison energy storage project using lithium-ion battery technology, Edison International

Emerging energy storage technologies in the US may face challenges as utilities stick to older technologies. Photo: Discovery Cube OC science centre, site of a Southern California Edison energy storage project, Edison International

A new report is expected to show emerging energy storage technologies may face commercialisation challenges as utilities stick to tried-and-tested technologies from reputable vendors.

Early indications are that US power companies are shunning innovative technologies and early-stage developers in favour of tried-and-tested equipment from major suppliers, according to the report from Energy Storage Update.

One source quoted in the report says around 60% of the storage currently being considered for installation across Californian utilities is likely to be in the form of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

The balance will probably be small-scale hydro, natural gas compression, liquid air storage and flywheels.

Another source, from Southern California Edison, indicated that the company’s energy storage testing programme was all using lithium-ion batteries.

Elsewhere, utility respondents also expressed a clear preference for industry-leading suppliers such as Sharp, LG Chem and Panasonic. “Big companies like ours only like to deal with more established companies, with actual balance sheets,” said one.
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Don’t believe the public utilities: California rocks

Despite lack of interest from public utilities, the Southern California Edison (SCE) announcement of the winners of its 250MW procurement shows the California energy storage market is growing rapidly. Photo credit: AES Energy Storage

Despite lack of interest from public utilities, the Southern California Edison (SCE) announcement of the winners of its 250MW procurement shows the California energy storage market is growing rapidly. Photo credit: AES Energy Storage

The California energy storage market is coming to life in spite of lacklustre backing from the state’s publicly owned utilities. Last week, Southern California Edison (SCE) announced the winners of contracts for 250MW of energy storage, Greentechmedia said, even as California’s publicly owned utilities committed to a mere 27.6MW by 2016, according to the Energy Matters blog.

The blog claims the California public utilities’ targets, all submitted in response to the Assembly Bill 2514 on energy storage procurement, represent about 0.1% of their combined peak load.

The 27.6MW commitment pretty much all came from just two providers: Redding Public Utilities and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).
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SCE planning power demonstration project

It’s been designed to make the smart grid smarter, say its backers. Scheduled to launch on June 30, 2013, the Southern California Edison (SCE) project will include electric-distribution infrastructure, substations, residential homes, cyber-security networks, battery energy storage systems, and electric vehicle charging stations at the University of California, Irvine, reports Fierce Smart Grid.