Leading Energy Storage Tech for Renewable Energy


Image Source:  U.S. Energy Information Administration (1)


“It doesn’t always rain when you need water, so we have reservoirs – but we don’t have the same system for electricity,” says Jill Cainey, director of the UK’s Electricity Storage Network.

[…] Big batteries, whose costs are plunging, are leading the way. But a host of other technologies, from existing schemes like splitting water to create hydrogen,compressing air in underground caverns, flywheels and heated gravel pits, to longer term bets like supercapacitors and superconducting magnets, are also jostling for position.

In the UK, the first plant to store electricity by squashing air into a liquid is due to open in March, while the first steps have been taken towards a virtual power station comprised of a network of home batteries.

“We think this will be a breakthrough year,” says John Prendergast at RES, a UK company that has 80MW of lithium-ion battery storage operational across the world and six times more in development, including its first UK project at a solar park near Glastonbury. “All this only works if it reduces costs for consumers and we think it does,” he says.

Energy storage is important for renewable energy not because green power is unpredictable – the sun, wind and tides are far more predictable than the surge that follows the end of a Wimbledon tennis final or the emergency shutdown of a gas-fired power plant. Storage is important because renewable energy is intermittent: strong winds in the early hours do not coincide with the peak demand of evenings. Storage allows electricity to be time-shifted to when it is needed, maximising the benefits of windfarms and solar arrays. (2)



(1) http://1.usa.gov/1UOayAh

(2) http://bit.ly/1UOaJvs


Solar Energy and Battery Storage Coupled Provide Demand Response & Utility Peak Shaving

Borrego Solar, a developer, and Stem, an energy storage firm, discuss when PV, storage or both will benefit commercial customers the most.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.greentechmedia.com

>” […] Thanks to advancements in technology, there are more energy solutions available to consumers. As a result, the confusion about which option to choose — solar, storage or solar-plus-storage — is growing.

Utility energy costs

To understand the benefits of energy storage and solar at a customer facility, it’s essential to first understand the elements of most organizations’ utility energy costs: energy charges and demand charges. This is the bread and butter for energy managers, but many leaders in finance and/or operations aren’t as aware of the energy cost mix — despite it being one of their largest budgetary line items. It should be noted that this billing structure isn’t in place in every market.

Energy charges, the price paid for the amount of energy used over the course of the billing cycle, are how most people think of paying for electricity. A price is paid for every kilowatt-hour used. Demand charges are additional charges incurred by most commercial customers and are determined by the highest amount of energy, in kilowatts, used at any instant or over some designated timeframe — typically a 15-minute interval — in that billing cycle.

Demand charges are a bit more complex. They come from a need for the grid infrastructure to be large enough to accommodate the highest amount of energy, or demand, needed at any moment in order to avoid a blackout. Every region is different, but demand charges typically make up somewhere between 20 percent and 40 percent of an electricity bill for commercial customers.

Why storage?

Intelligent storage can help organizations specifically tackle their demand charges. By combining predictive software and battery-based storage, these systems know when to deploy energy during usage peaks and offset those costly demand charges. Most storage systems run completely independently from solar, so they can be added to a building whether or not solar is present.

Storage can reduce demand charges by dispensing power during brief periods of high demand, which in essence shaves down the peaks, or spikes, in energy usage. Deploying storage is economical under current market conditions for load profiles that have brief spikes in demand, because a relatively small battery can eliminate the short-lived peaks.

For peak demand periods of longer duration, a larger, and considerably more expensive, battery would be needed, and with the higher material costs, the economics may not be cost-effective. As system costs continue to decline, however, a broader range of load profiles will be able to save with energy storage.

Why solar?

For the commercial, industrial or institutional energy user, solar’s value proposition is pretty simple. For most facilities in states with high energy costs and a net metering regime in place, onsite solar can reduce energy charges and provide a hedge against rising electricity costs. The savings come primarily from producing/buying energy from the solar system, which reduces the amount of energy purchased from the utility, and — when the installation produces more than is used — the credit from selling the excess energy to the grid at retail rates.

The demand savings are a relatively small part of the benefit of solar because the timing of solar production and peak demand need to line up in order to cut down demand charges. Solar production is greatest from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the peak period (when demand for energy across the grid is highest) is typically from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. If demand-charge rates are determined by the highest peak incurred, customers with solar will still fall into higher demand classes from their energy usage later in the day, when solar has less of an impact.

That being said, solar can reduce a significant portion of demand charges if the customer is located within a utility area where solar grants access to new, solar-friendly rate schedules. These rate schedules typically reduce demand charges and increase energy charges, so the portion of the utility bill that solar can impact is larger.  […]”<

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Virtual Power Plants Aggregate Renewable Energy Battery Storage Systems

Aggregating connected energy storage systems to create ‘virtual power plants’ is likely to become a big part of the next phase of storage, according to the executive director of the US-based Energy Storage Association.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: storage.pv-tech.org

>” […] Part of the beauty is that this kind of storage-based ‘multi-tasking’ could be secondary to the main aims of the storage being installed, such as integrating solar.

“You don’t have to do it every day, but on an infrequent basis you can jump into the marketplace to help make money and subsidise all your projects. And, you can do big things for the grid. You will look like a power plant as far as the grid can tell. You can replace the need for a new peaking plant or something like that. [There are] a lot of great things you can do with distributed storage; the sum of [its] parts is greater than the individual pieces.”

Companies are already trialling the concept in various configurations around the world, analyst Omar Saadeh, senior grid analyst at GTM Research, told PV Tech Storage recently. Saadeh said VPPs are one way utilities could use storage to meet “a higher demand for rapidly deployable grid flexibility”.

One example Saadeh cited was a project called PowerShift Atalantic in Canada, which was “designed to manage and mitigate intermittent power from large-scale wind generation, currently totalling 822MW”.

“Through the multiple flexible curtailment service providers, aggregated loads have the ability to balance wind intermittency by responding to virtual power plant dispatch signals in near-real time, providing the equivalent of a 10-minute spinning reserve ancillary service typically executed by pollution-heavy peaker plants,” Saadeh said.

“Since March 2014, the project included 1,270 customer-connected devices with 18 MW of load flexibility, approximately 90% residential.”

Saadeh said Europe has been especially active on the concept, calling France one of the “leading supporters” of such developments.

“They’ve looked at many promising applications including partial islanding, or microgrids, DER-oriented marketplace development, and renewable balancing services.”

German utility Lichtblick, which claims to generate its power 100% from renewables, is another entity which has already got started on VPPs, which it calls a “swarm” of devices. Its battery system providers in VPP programmes include Tesla Energy and Germany’s Sonnenbatterie. Meanwhile another big Tesla partner, SolarCity, also intends to aggregate storage using the EV maker turned energy industry disruptor’s Powerwall for homes. […]”<

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Global Distributed Energy Storage Capacity Expected to Increase Nearly 10-Fold

The worldwide capacity of distributed energy storage systems is expected to increase nearly 10-fold over the next 3 years, according to a new report from Navigant Research, which analyzed the global market for distributed energy storage systems through 2024.

Source: cleantechnica.com

>” […] The primary conclusion of the report is that distributed storage is one of the fastest-growing markets for energy storage globally, thanks to the focus of rapid innovation and intense competition, causing the market to greatly exceed market expectations. This growth and subsequent demand has led to grid operators, utilities, and governments looking to encourage storage installations that are physically situated closer to the retail electrical customer.

According to the report from Navigant Research, worldwide capacity of distributed energy storage systems (DESSs) is expected to grow from its current 276 MW, to nearly 2,400 MW in 2018.

“Distributed storage is among the fastest-growing markets for energy storage globally,” says Anissa Dehamna, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “In particular, residential and commercial energy storage are expected to be the focus of technological advances and market activity in the coming years.” […]

Two specific types of DESS are classified in the report: Community energy storage refers to systems installed at the distribution transformer level; Residential and commercial storage, on the other hand, refer to “two behind-the-meter applications targeted at either homeowners or commercial and industrial customers.” Together, these two technologies include lithium ion (Li-ion), flow batteries, advanced lead-acid, and other next-generation chemistries, such as sodium metal halide, ultracapacitors, and aqueous hybrid ion.

Similarly, the two categories of DESS each have specific market drivers. Community energy storage is being driven by the improved reliability yielded in case of outages, load leveling and peak shifting, and improved power quality. Almost as importantly, community energy storage systems can communicate with a grid operator’s operating system, allowing the operator to mitigate disruptions to the grid.

Given its primary use as an energy cost management solution, the prime driver behind commercial storage systems is the rate structure for customers. “<

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US Energy Storage Capacity to Triple in 2015

Over triple the amount of energy storage capacity — 220 megawatts worth — is expected to come on-line this year.

Source: www.triplepundit.com

>” […] 2015 looks set to be a milestone year for advanced energy storage solutions. Some 220 megawatts worth of energy storage capacity will be deployed across the nation in 2015 – more than three times the 2014 total, according to an inaugural market research report from GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association (ESA). The organizations see growth continuing “at a rapid clip thereafter.”

The number of grid-connected electrochemical and electromechanical storage installations that came on-line in 2014 totaled 61.9 megawatts of power capacity, the organizations found, up 40 percent from 44.2 MW in 2013. One leading distributed energy storage pioneer delivered over a third of the total.  […]

Utility deployments dominated the fast emerging U.S. market for advanced energy storage systems in 2014, accounting for 90 percent of newly-installed capacity. So-called “behind the meter” installations at utility customer sites – commercial and industrial companies, government facilities, schools, hospitals and municipalities – made up 10 percent of the 2014 total.

But installations of “behind the meter” energy storage systems picked up sharply in the fourth quarter of 2014, GTM and ESA note. Going forward, GTM expects behind-the-meter installations will account for 45 percent of the overall market by 2019.

Advanced energy storage system deployments are also concentrated in states that have and/or are in the process of instituting market regulatory reforms and supportive policies, including mandates and incentive programs. GTM and ESA singled out California and states where PJM is responsible for grid operations and management – all or part of 13 states across the eastern U.S. and the District of Columbia – as early leaders.

“The U.S. energy storage market is nascent, but we expect it to pick up more speed this year,” GTM Research SVP Shayle Kann was quoted in a Greentech Media news report. “Attractive economics already exist across a broad array of applications, and system costs are in rapid decline. We expect some fits and starts but significant overall growth for the market in 2015.”


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Vanadium Flow Battery Competes With Lithium and Lead-Acid at Grid Scale

The company claims LCOE [Levelized Cost of Energy] is less than half the cost of any other battery technology available.

Source: www.greentechmedia.com


Imergy Power Systems just introduced its third-generation vanadium flow battery, claiming it offers a low-cost, high-performance energy storage solution for large-scale applications, including peak demand management, frequency regulation and the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources.

The ESP250 has an output power capability of 250 kilowatts and 1 megawatt of energy storage capacity. It’s suited for both short- and long-duration storage, with available energy ranging from two to 12 hours of output duration. The 40-foot batteries (each about the size of two shipping containers) are designed to be deployed individually or linked together for larger-scale projects. […]

Where Imergy has been able to edge out its competitors is on material cost. Vanadium is abundant but expensive to extract from the ground. Imergy has developed a unique chemistry that allows it to use cheaper, recycled resources of vanadium from mining slag, fly ash and other environmental waste.

With this chemistry, the levelized cost of energy for Imergy’s batteries is less than half of any other battery on the market right now, according to Hennessy. Vanadium flow batteries are orders of magnitude cheaper than lithium-ion batteries on a lifetime basis because they can be 100 percent cycled an unlimited number of times, whereas lithium-ion batteries wear down with use, according to the firm. Despite the compelling cost claims from Imergy, lithium-ion has been the predominant energy storage technology being deployed at this early point of the market. And very few flow batteries are currently providing grid services.

Imergy’s capital costs are lower than every other battery technology except lead-acid, Hennessy added. But he believes the company can hit that mark (roughly $200 per kilowatt-hour) by the end of the year by outsourcing contracts to manufacturing powerhouse Foxconn Technology Group in China. Delivery of the ESP250 is targeted for summer of 2015.

At this price, Imergy says the ESP250 offers an affordable alternative to peaker plants and can help utilities avoid investing more capital in the grid. Some might disagree with the claim that grid-scale storage can compete with fast-start turbines and natural gas prices below $3 per million Btu. But according to Hennessy, it all comes down to the application. Batteries can’t compete with gas at the 50-megawatt scale, but they can compete with gas at the distribution level.

“Batteries that are distributed have a huge advantage over gas, because when you buy gas down at the low end, you’re paying a lot more than $3 to $4 per MMBtu, because you’ve got to pay for all the transmission down to the small end,” he said.

Demand for cost-effective energy storage is growing as intermittent renewables become cheaper and come on-line in higher volumes. GTM Research anticipates the solar-plus-storage market to grow from $42 million in 2014 to more than $1 billion by 2018.

Imergy sees a ripe market in the Caribbean, parts of Africa and India, Hawaii and other places where the LCOE for solar-plus-storage is already competitive. As costs continue to fall, New York, California and Texas will also become attractive markets.”<


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Determining the True Cost (LCOE) of Battery Energy Storage

The true cost of energy storage depends on the so-called LCOE = Round-trip efficiency + maintenance costs + useful life of the energy system

Source: www.triplepundit.com

By Anna W. Aamone

“With regard to [battery] energy storage systems, many people erroneously think that the only cost they should consider is the initial – that is, the cost of generating electricity per kilowatt-hour. However, they are not aware of another very important factor.

This is the so-called LCOE, levelized cost of energy(also known as cost of electricity by source), which helps calculate the price of the electricity generated by a specific source. The LCOE also includes other costs associated with producing or storing that energy, such as maintenance and operating costs, residual value, the useful life of the system and the round-trip efficiency. […]

Batteries and round-trip efficiency

[…] due to poor maintenance, inefficiencies or heat, part of the energy captured in the battery is released … or rather, lost. The idea of round-trip efficiency is to determine the overall efficiency of a system (in that case, batteries) from the moment it is charged to the moment the energy is discharged. In other words, it helps to calculate the amount of energy that gets lost between charging and discharging (a “round trip”).

[…] So, as it turns out, using batteries is not free either. And it has to be added to the final cost of the energy storage system.

Maintenance costs

[…] An energy storage system requires regular check-ups so that it operates properly in the years to come. Note that keeping such a system running smoothly can be quite pricey. Some batteries need to be maintained more often than others. Therefore when considering buying an energy storage system, you need to take into account this factor. […]

Useful life of the energy system

Another important factor in determining the true cost of energy storage is a system’s useful life. Most of the time, this is characterized by the number of years a system is likely to be running. However, when it comes to batteries, there is another factor to take into account: use. […]

More often than not, the life of a battery depends on the number of charge and discharge cycles it goes through. Imagine a battery has about 10,000 charge-discharge cycles. When they are complete, the battery will wear out, no matter if it has been used for two or for five years.

[…] [However] flow batteries can be charged and discharged a million times without wearing out. Hence, cycling is not an issue with this type of battery, and you should keep this in mind before selecting an energy storage system. Think twice about whether you want to use batteries that wear out too quickly because their useful life depends on the number of times they are charged and discharged. Or would you rather use flow batteries, the LCOE of which is much lower than that of standard batteries?

So, what do we have so far?

LCOE = Round-trip efficiency + maintenance costs + useful life of the energy system.

These are three of the most important factors that determine the LCOE. Make sure you consider all the factors that determine the true cost of energy storage systems before you buy one.

Image credit: Flickr/INL”

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What is “Levelized Cost of Energy” or LCOE?

As a financial tool, LCOE is very valuable for the comparison of various generation options. A relatively low LCOE means that electricity is being produced at a low cost, with higher likely returns for the investor. If the cost for a renewable technology is as low as current traditional costs, it is said to have reached “Grid Parity“.

Source: www.renewable-energy-advisors.com

>”LCOE (levelized cost of energy) is one of the utility industry’s primary metrics for the cost of electricity produced by a generator. It is calculated by accounting for all of a system’s expected lifetime costs (including construction, financing, fuel, maintenance, taxes, insurance and incentives), which are then divided by the system’s lifetime expected power output (kWh). All cost and benefit estimates are adjusted for inflation and discounted to account for the time-value of money. […]

LCOE Estimates for Renewable Energy

When an electric utility plans for a conventional plant, it must consider the effects of inflation on future plant maintenance, and it must estimate the price of fuel for the plant decades into the future. As those costs rise, they are passed on to the ratepayer. A renewable energy plant is initially more expensive to build, but has very low maintenance costs, and no fuel cost, over its 20-30 year life. As the following 2012 U.S. Govt. forecast illustrates, LCOE estimates for conventional sources of power depend on very uncertain fuel cost estimates. These uncertainties must be factored into LCOE comparisons between different technologies.

LCOE estimates may or may not include the environmental costs associated with energy production. Governments around the world have begun to quantify these costs by developing various financial instruments that are granted to those who generate or purchase renewable energy. In the United States, these instruments are called Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). To learn more about environmental costs, visit our Greenhouse Gas page.

LCOE estimates do not normally include less tangible risks that may have very large effects on a power plant’s actual cost to ratepayers. Imagine, for example, the LCOE estimates used for nuclear power plants in Japan before the Fukushima incident, compared to the eventual costs for those plants.


An important determination of photovoltaic LCOE is the system’s location. The LCOE of a system built in Southern Utah, for example, is likely to be lower than that of an identical system built in Northern Utah. Although the cost of building the two systems may be similar, the system with the most access to the sun will perform better, and deliver the most value to its owner. […]”<



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Electricity storage becomes priority as solar and wind energy cost keeps dropping

“And the cost of solar power is declining amazingly. Austin Energy signed a deal recently that a solar farm is selling at 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. A recent study by Lazard gave a cost of 5.6 cents for solar and 1.4 cents for wind power (with current subsidies) or 7.2 cents for solar and 3.7 cents for wind without subsidies. Natural gas came in at 6.1 cents and coal at 6.6 cents. The Solar Energy Industries Association claims that in the Southwest electricity contracts for solar energy have dropped 70 percent since 2008.”


imgres The rapid advances in the use of solar and wind energy – more in Europe, but now also gaining momentum in the U.S.- has put electricity “storage” front and center. That is because there is no solar production at night and little on cloudy days, while strong winds are unpredictable in most locations. So, the best “model” for these renewable energy sources is to generate as much as possible at favorable times and to “store” excess production for periods when solar and wind energy supply are low.

And the cost of solar power is declining amazingly. Austin Energy signed a deal recently that a solar farm is selling at 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. A recent study by Lazard gave a cost of 5.6 cents for solar and 1.4 cents for wind power (with current subsidies) or 7.2 cents for solar and 3.7 cents for wind without subsidies. Natural gas came in at…

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Snohomish PUD’s Energy Storage Initiative

Northwest Clean Energy

Everybody talks about renewable intermittency, but nobody does anything about it.

Well, that is not quite true. Snohomish County Public Utility District is doing something about it: they are building the infrastructure for energy storage. Not balancing, but storage. There’s a big difference.

Snohomish PUD is the second largest publicly owned utility in Washington state and serves more than 327,000 electric customers.

A grid in balance

Right now, utilities “balance” their renewable inputs. Indeed, balancing renewables is a major focus of current utility research and practice. Most renewable sources are intermittent, and some other source of generation balances it—fills in the gaps. For example, when the wind springs up, hydro plants power down to balance. When the wind dies down, hydro plants power up.

In general, “balancing plants” have to be hydro or combined cycle gas-fired plants. Most “demand side management” is too slow to balance wind energy. Demand side management…

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