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18 May 2013

Press review 18-05-2013

Today's focus is on electricity storage. The technology to support the decentralised grid paradigm that renewable energies are bringing about is not quite there yet - but getting there it seems. Sustained high petroleum and gas prices plus the fast decline of wind and solar PV costs are sparking research and development pretty much everyone. What strikes me at the moment is the number of different technologies that presently show the potential to arrive on the market in the next few years. For grid support at least a massification of electrical storage appears to be in arm's reach.

Energy Storage: Continuing To Evolve
Peter Kelly-Detwiler, 15-05-2013

[...] Storage can do much to increase the value of solar power, including firming up the capacity for short periods by releasing energy when clouds reduce output. However, the technology is still in its early days and U.S. undertakings to date are pilots. For example, Duke developed its smart grid storage projects in order to quantify the total system benefits, including reduced generation costs and the ability to defer investments in additional assets.

While energy storage may still have a way to go to reach the mainstream, a new initiative in Germany may change all that, much the same way that the country kick-started the current solar revolution in the last decade. Germany recently announced an energy storage subsidy, to be launched this month. Even without subsidies, 8 MW of storage were installed in Germany last year, but this number should accelerate rapidly. Projections from IMS Research (now part of IHS IHS -0.18% CERA) show a worldwide growth curve in storage from $200 million of storage in 2012 to $19 billion by 2017. IHS projects Germany alone will have installed 2 GW (2,000 megawatts) of storage within the next five years.
A particular project that was on the news this week provides an interesting clue: a 10 MW wind farm combined with a 3 M$ storage system. That's about a 30% increase in cost (if the storage system lasts as long as the turbines). Far from being prohibitive.
Wind energy storage tested at institute

The Wind Energy Institute of Canada in western P.E.I. has purchased a $3-million system for storing wind energy, which it expects to begin tests on before the end of the year.

Institute CEO Scott Harper told CBC News the experimental system will be connected to the Institute's new 10-megawatt wind farm. The power convertor and storage system is designed by the Canadian company S&C Electric, with battery technology from GE, and consisting of two boxes about the size of two shipping containers.

An effective method for storing wind energy is important because the wind doesn't always blow when people need electricity.
Even with off-the-shelf technology wind coupled energy storage can make sense, at least monetarily. Such is the thinking behind a new turbine model manufactured by General Electric.
GE Adds Energy Storage to Its Brilliant Wind Energy Turbine
Herman Trabish, 07-05-2013

[...] GE has also announced that three Brilliant turbines will be installed by Invenergy at a Texas wind project by the end of 2013. Each will integrate 50 kilowatt-hours of battery storage, allowing the individual turbines to add a set of three possible functions.

The batteries, situated on a nearby ground pad, are integrated by the turbine’s intelligent operating system. They make three uses of storage, which GE calls applications, available to project operators.

The Invenergy turbines’ storage will be used for the first of the apps, labeled "predictable power" by GE. That is short-term storage to “sure” the delivery of committed output, explained GE Wind Product Line General Manager Keith Longtin. Increased certainty that a wind project will meet contractual obligations makes it more competitive with generation sources that face fewer intermittency challenges.

Stored electricity can also be sold to grid operators like PJM, ERCOT and the California ISO to regulate frequency variations that can disrupt service. Selling into frequency regulation markets adds a revenue stream for a wind developer, Longtin said.

Third, storage allows "ramp control." Electricity generated when the blowing wind allows production but the grid is not buying can be sold when it is needed, Longtin said, increasing developers’ returns on investment.
And chemical technologies are just part of the research portfolio. Here's the realisation of an old idea, even if this technology is targeting a farther time horizon.
Storage Power Plant On the Seabed

Norwegian research scientists will contribute to realising the concept of storing electricity at the bottom of the sea. The energy will be stored with the help of high water pressure.

The idea of an underwater pumped hydroelectric power plant may sound like Jules Verne fiction, but then it was hatched by a German engineer who has spent much of his professional life working in aerospace technology. "Imagine opening a hatch in a submarine under water. The water will flow into the submarine with enormous force. It is precisely this energy potential we want to utilize," explains Rainer Schramm, inventor and founder of the company Subhydro AS to Gemini.no. "Many people have launched the idea of storing energy by exploiting the pressure at the seabed, but we are the first in the world to apply a specific patent-pending technology to make this possible," he adds. He has joined forces with SINTEF in order to realize the concept.
Finally some statistics on wind energy, that continues to grow exponentially, and in different places of the planet. Wind is a fully mature technology, now well into the market expansion phase.
Deutsche Wella
2012 record-breaking year for wind power

100 countries worldwide now produce electricity with wind power. So far, it's a boom that has mainly occurred in Asia, North America and Western Europe. Now, Eastern Europe and Latin America are getting involved.

Last year, more wind turbines were erected than ever before worldwide, according to statistics released today (16 May 2013) by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) in Bonn, Germany.

According to the organization's World Wind Energy Report 2012, last year wind turbines with a total energy potential of 45 gigawatts (GW) were constructed internationally. That brings global wind power capacity to 282 GW. Stefan Gsänger, the General Secretary of the WWEA, says that wind power now covers three percent of global electricity demand.
That's it for this week. Enjoy the winter while it lasts.