Why Electric Vehicles are not 100% Green

In 2013 Tesla’s [time-stock symbol=TSLA] Model S won the prestigious Motor Trend Car of the Year award. Motor Trend called it “one of the quickest American four-doors ever built.” It went on to say that the electric vehicle “drives like a sports car, eager and agile and instantly responsive.”

Source: time.com

>” […]

The secret behind Tesla’s success

While the power driving Tesla’s success might be its battery, that’s not the real secret to its success. Instead, Tesla has aluminum to thank for its superior outperformance, as the metal is up to 40% lighter than steel, according to a report from the University of Aachen, Germany. That lighter weight enables Tesla to fit enough battery power into the car to extend the range of the Model S without hurting its performance. Vehicles made with aluminum accelerate faster, brake in shorter distances, and simply handle better than cars loaded down with heavier steel.

Even better, pound-for-pound aluminum can absorb twice as much crash energy as steel. This strength is one of the reasons Tesla’s Model S also achieved the highest safety rating of any car ever tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But it’s not all good news when it comes to aluminum and cars.

Aluminum’s dirty side

[…]  Before alumina can be converted into aluminum its source needs to be mined. That source is an ore called bauxite, which is typically extracted in open-pit mines that aren’t exactly environmentally friendly. Bauxite is then processed into the fine white powder known as alumina, and from there alumina is exposed to intense heat and electricity through a process known as smelting, which transforms the material into aluminum.

Aluminum smelting is extremely energy-intense. It takes 211 gigajoules of energy to make one tonne of aluminum, while just 22.7 gigajoules of energy is required to produce one tonne of steel. In an oversimplification of the process, aluminum smelting requires temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius to melt alumina, while an electric current must also pass through the molten material so that electrolysis can reduce the aluminum ions to aluminum metals. This process requires so much energy that aluminum production is responsible for about 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Carbon Trust.

There is, however, some good news: Aluminum is 100% recyclable. Moreover, recycled aluminum, or secondary production, requires far less energy to produce than primary production, as the […] chart shows. […]”<


See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

California’s PG&E Takes Grid Energy Storage to the Distribution Substation

California’s utilities are building a 1.3-gigawatt energy storage system, one piece at a time.

Source: www.greentechmedia.com

>” […] PG&E’s solicitation (PDF) is one of the first rounds from the 74 megawatts of storage projects the utility is set to announce by December. That, in turn, is part of the first procurement round for the state’s 1.3-gigawatt mandate for storage by 2021, which is requiring PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric to sign up about 200 megawatts of cost-effective grid storage by year’s end.


Some of these projects will be aggregating distributed, behind-the-meter batteries to help solve local grid needs. But PG&E’s substation RFO is aimed strictly at utility-owned and -operated battery systems — which makes sense, because PG&E is justifying its cost by showing how much it saves by not building or upgrading new substations.


PG&E’s cost-benefit calculation for these projects is fairly straightforward — subtract the cost of upgrading the substation from the cost of the battery system. Still, the duty cycle being asked of these energy storage systems (ESS) is pretty severe, according to the RFO:

“[T]his is defined as discharging the ESS from 100% state of charge (SOC) at guaranteed maximum power for the guaranteed discharge duration, then charging it to back to 100% SOC and subsequently discharging it at guaranteed maximum power for half of the guaranteed discharge duration, and finally charging it back to 100% SOC during the course of a single day. The ESS shall be capable of performing the guaranteed site specific duty cycle for up to 365 days per year excluding time for planned maintenance and/or forced outages.”


Asset or investment deferral of this kind is actually a significant route to market for existing battery-based grid storage systems, with projects around the world allowing stressed-out substations to keep operating for years longer by cushioning the peaks with stored battery power. In fact, PG&E has a 2-megawatt project in Vacaville that’s serving that purpose for a transmission substation.

But the new projects are some of the first targeting the medium- and low-voltage distribution grid, where the rules for batteries are different. California regulators are asking the state’s big utilities to come up with ways to value distributed energy assets — solar panels, batteries, plug-in vehicles, smart thermostats and other grid-edge systems — in their multi-billion-dollar, multi-year distribution grid investment plans.

PG&E didn’t disclose how much investment it’s hoping to defer with these new projects, or how much it planned to pay for them. But the numbers could be significant. In New York City, utility Consolidated Edison is proposing a plan to replace $1 billion in substation upgrades with a mix of energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed energy resources like rooftop solar and energy storage.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Electric Vehicle Market – Nissan Tests “Demand Response” Energy Management System

Nissan is assessing the potential of electric vehicles in energy management systems. […]  is participating in the “demand response” energy supply and demand system testing together with businesses and government authorities in Japan.

Source: green.autoblog.com

>”[…]  Demand response is a strategy to make power grids more efficient by modifying consumers’ power consumption in consideration of available energy supply. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 the supply and demand of electricity during peak use hours in Japan has drawn attention. Under the demand response scheme, power companies request aggregators* to use energy conservation measures, and they are compensated for the electricity that they save.

Usually when energy-saving is requested consumers may respond by moderating their use of air conditioning and lighting. However, by using the storage capacity of electric vehicles and Vehicle to Home (V2H) systems, consumers can reduce their use of power at peak times without turning off lights and appliances. This is particularly useful in commercial establishments where it is difficult to turn power off to save electricity.

The demand response scheme involves assessing the usefulness of energy-saving measures using V2H systems during peak-use periods and analyzing the impact of monetary incentives on business. For example, the testing involves a LEAF and LEAF to Home system which is connected to power a Nissan dealer’s lighting system during regular business hours using stored battery energy. This reduces electricity demand on the power grid. The aggregator is then compensated for the equivalent of the total amount of electricity that is saved. Two or three tests per month will be conducted on designated days for three hours’ each time sometime between 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from October 2014 through January 2015.

Effective use of renewable energy and improvements in the efficiency of power generation facilities will enable better energy management in the future and help reduce environmental impact. Field tests using EVs’ high-capacity batteries that are being conducted globally are proving their effectiveness in energy management. Additionally, if similar compensation schemes for energy-saving activities were applied to EV owners it could accelerate the wider adoption of EVs and reduce society’s carbon footprint.

Nissan has sold more than 142,000 LEAFs globally since launch. The Nissan LEAF’s power storage capability in its onboard batteries, coupled with the LEAF to Home power supply system, is proving attractive to many customers. As the leader in Zero Emissions, Nissan is promoting the adoption of EVs to help build a zero-emission society in the future. Along with these energy management field tests, Nissan is actively creating new value through the use of EVs’ battery power storage capability and continuing to promote initiatives that will help realize a sustainable low-carbon society.

* Aggregators refers to businesses that coordinate two or more consumers (e.g. plants and offices) and trade with utility companies the total amount of the electricity they have succeeded in curbing.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Microgrid Integration with Public Transportation

Superstorm Sandy crippled much of New Jersey’s critical infrastructure two years ago. Stuck without power at home, many also couldn’t get to work because the operations center for New Jersey Transit flooded, damaging backup power systems, emergency generation, and the computers that control train operations.

Source: theenergycollective.com

>” […] After a highly competitive grant process, NJ Transit last week received $1.3 billion in federal funds to improve the resilience of the state’s transportation system in the event of devastating future storms. The funds include $410 million to develop the NJ TransitGrid into a first-of-its-kind microgrid capable of keeping the power running when the electric grid goes down.

Microgrids are different from traditional electric grids in that they generate electricity on-site or nearby where it’s consumed. They can connect to the larger grid or island themselves and operate independently.

The NJ TransitGrid will not only generate power on-site but will incorporate a range of clean energy technologies such as renewable energy, energy storage, and distributed generation. This microgrid will also allow NJ Transit and Amtrak trains running on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the country’s busiest train line, to keep operating during an outage.

Environmental Defense Fund joined state and federal stakeholders, such as New Jersey Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding and the U.S. Department of Energy, in the early stages of NJ TransitGrid planning. EDF also wrote a letter in support of New Jersey’s application for the funds from the Federal Transit Administration.

The $1.3 billion in total federal funds received by NJ Transit will go toward a range of resiliency and restoration projects across the system, including flood protection, drawbridge replacement, train storage and service restoration, and making train controls more resilient. These funds will also be used to fortify critical Amtrak substations.

Serving almost 900,000 passengers daily, NJ Transit is the third largest transit system in the country connecting travelers to the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. An independent microgrid for NJ Transit will prepare the state for future extreme weather events, which are happening more frequently due to climate change. Furthermore, the use of clean energy resources will make this microgrid a less polluting and more efficient operation for New Jersey’s day-to-day needs.”<


See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Residential Battery Storage Nears Grid Parity in Germany

It’s very close, according to the German government and some industry observers.

Source: www.greentechmedia.com

>”It is now generally recognized that rooftop solar has reached “socket parity” — meaning that it is comparable to or cheaper than grid prices — in many countries over the last few years. The big question for consumers and utilities is when socket parity will arrive for solar and battery storage.

[…] Electricity prices are rising and solar PV prices are falling, which means that if battery storage falls to around €0.20 per kilowatt-hour (U.S. $0.27), parity will be achieved.

Australian investment firm Morgans, in an assessment of Brisbane-based battery storage developer Redflow, suggests that that company’s zinc-bromine flow battery may already be commercially economic in Germany, the country that leads the world in terms of household adoption and government support for renewables.

Morgans notes that in Germany, the cost of household grid power is around €0.30 per kilowatt-hour (U.S. $0.40) and that the government is now subsidizing residential energy storage systems that are connected to solar systems.

“Given Germany’s substantial adoption of solar PV…costs for solar power range from €0.10 to €0.15 per kilowatt-hour (half the grid price), so when energy storage costs reach €0.15 to €0.20, this will mean renewable energy costs will be at parity with grid prices,” Morgans concludes.  […]”<


See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

US Company Deploys Aqueous, Lithium-Ion and Flow Batteries for Grid Storage

“Batteries must do more than just work—they have to scale.”

Source: www.greentechmedia.com

>”[…] The startup is a software developer and system integrator that has attracted investment, personnel and a growing roster of turnkey energy storage projects.


Companies like the 30-employee Greensmith are winning energy storage projects not because they are building better batteries but because they are writing software that integrates batteries with inverters and allows energy storage to work with the grid at scale. Greensmith works with a variety of battery chemistries from different vendors, as well as multiple inverters and power electronics partners.

New battery technologies and projects

Amongst other technologies, Greensmith is using Aquion Energy’s sodium-ion battery. The Pittsburgh, Penn.-based Aquion says its technology can deliver round-trip energy efficiency of 85 percent; a ten-year, 5,000-plus-cycle lifespan; energy storage capacity optimized to charge and discharge for multi-hour applications; and perhaps most notably, a price point of $250 per kilowatt-hour.

In April, Aquion closed a $55 million Series D venture capital investment, bringing total investments and grants to more than $100 million. New investors Bill Gates, Yung’s Enterprise, Nick and Joby Pritzker (through their family’s firm Tao Invest), Bright Capital, and Gentry Venture Partners joined previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, and Advanced Technology Ventures in the round. Aquion is already producing its 1.5-kilowatt-hour S10 Battery Stack units, as well as an 18-kilowatt-hour system that combines twelve of its S10 units.

Greensmith is also using ViZn Energy Systems’ zinc redox flow battery energy storage technology. ViZn aims to produce a 80-kilowatt/160-kilowatt-hour system housed in a 20-foot shipping container, as well as larger systems. Other flow battery firms include American Vanadium, EnerVault, Primus Power, Imergy and ZBB Energy.

The CEO of the firm told GTM that Greensmith is developing a hybrid system using both the Aquion and ViZn storage chemistries.

Since its 2006 founding, Greensmith has deployed 30 battery energy systems for eighteen different customers, nine of them utilities, and is aiming to have 23 megawatts of systems under management by year’s end. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Province Calls for Renewable Energy Storage Systems Demonstration Projects

Most of the new systems will be able to turn on a dime, storing and releasing energy almost instantaneously to help balance out the supply and demand over the course of a day

Source: www.theglobeandmail.com

>”Ontario has embarked on a quest to find the holy grail of renewable energy – an effective means to store the power generated by intermittent wind and solar installations.

The province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently chose five companies who will build a dozen demonstration projects designed to capture and release energy. That would allow the electricity grid to react to fluctuations in power production, which are becoming more significant with the addition of renewables whose output varies depending on how the wind blows and sun shines.


The technologies that will be tested include advanced batteries, systems that store power in the form of hydrogen, and even flywheels that hold energy as kinetic energy in a spinning rotor.

Bruce Campbell, president of the IESO, called storage facilities a “game changer” for a grid that was designed to produce electricity at exactly the same time it is consumed. “Energy storage projects will provide more flexibility and offer more options to manage the system efficiently,” he said.

The test projects will be distributed at various locations around the province, and will be connected to different parts of the grid to see how effectively they can help balance supply, demand and other transmission issues.

Among the suppliers are Hydrogenics Corp., which will test a hydrogen storage system, and Hecate Energy and Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., which will use various battery technologies. Convergent Energy and Power LLC will test a flywheel that converts electricity to kinetic energy stored in a rotor. Dimplex North America Ltd. will install thermal systems in apartments in Hamilton, Ont., that store electricity as heat in special bricks, releasing it later when the building needs to be warmed.

Rob Harvey, director of energy storage at Hydrogenics, said his company’s test system will incorporate an advanced electrolysis system that uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. That hydrogen can then be used in a fuel cell to generate electricity when needed. Coupling the fuel cell and the electrolyser means power can be effectively stored for any length of time and dispatched as needed.

If the tests are successful, Mr. Harvey said, this could be a significant new line of business for Hydrogenics, which now makes hydrogen-producing systems for industrial customers, as well as fuel cells, which are essentially engines that use hydrogen as fuel.”<


See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Liquid Air Processes for Energy Storage and Power – Grid & Transportation

A 19th-century idea might lead to cleaner cars, larger-scale renewable energy.

Source: www.technologyreview.com

>”Highview Power’s process is 50 to 60 percent efficient—the liquid air can yield just over half as much electricity as it takes to make it. Batteries, by contrast, can be more than 90 percent efficient. But the new process can make up for its inefficiency by using waste heat from other processes (see “Audi to Make Fuel Using Solar Power”). Highview has demonstrated that low-temperature waste heat from power plants or even data centers can be used to help warm up the liquefied air. The system can also last for decades, while batteries typically need to be replaced every few years. This longevity could help reduce overall costs.

Several companies are developing ways to improve the efficiency of compressing air, which could also make the liquefaction process more efficient (see “LightSail Energy Snags $37M in Funding” and “Compressed-Air System Could Aid Wind Power”). Liquefied air is about four times more energy-dense than compressed air, and storing it at a large scale takes up less space.

Liquid air might also prove useful in cars and trucks. An inventor named Peter Dearman has made a compact system that, instead of relying on large heat exchangers, uses antifreeze injected into an engine’s combustion chamber to recycle heat that would otherwise be wasted. He built a ramshackle prototype and showed that it could power a car. Ricardo is working on a version that could eventually be commercialized.

Liquid air stores energy at about the density of nickel–metal hydride batteries and some lithium-ion batteries, the kind used in hybrid and electric cars now. But it has a key advantage—it can be poured into a fuel tank far faster than a battery can be recharged, says Andrew Atkins, a senior technologist at Ricardo. The engine would run on liquid nitrogen—basically liquid air with the oxygen removed—and would emit only nitrogen. The carbon emissions associated with the engine would depend on the power source used to liquefy the nitrogen.”<

Are current batteries cost effective for wind and solar power storage on the grid?

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>”We calculated how much energy is used over the full lifecycle of the battery – from the mining of raw materials to the installation of the finished device,” Barnhart said. “Batteries with high energetic cost consume more fossil fuels and therefore release more carbon dioxide over their lifetime. If a battery’s energetic cost is too high, its overall contribution to global warming could negate the environmental benefits of the wind or solar farm it was supposed to support.” […]

In addition to batteries, the researchers considered other technologies for storing renewable energy, such as pumped hydroelectric storage, which uses surplus electricity to pump water to a reservoir behind a dam. Later, when demand for energy is high, the stored water is released through turbines in the dam to generate electricity. […]

Storage is not the only way to improve grid reliability. “Energy that would otherwise be lost during times of excess could be used to pump water for irrigation or to charge a fleet of electric vehicles, for example,” Dale said.

See on phys.org

Clay key to high-temperature supercapacitors

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Clay, an abundant and cheap natural material, is a key ingredient in a supercapacitor that can operate at very high temperatures, according to researchers who have developed such a device.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>”Our intention is to completely move away from conventional liquid or gel-type electrolytes, which have been limited to low-temperature operation of electrochemical devices,” said Arava Leela Mohana Reddy, lead author and a former research scientist at Rice.

“We found that a clay-based membrane electrolyte is a game-changing breakthrough that overcomes one of the key limitations of high-temperature operation of electrochemical energy devices,” Reddy said. “By allowing safe operation over a wide range of temperatures without compromising on high energy, power and cycle life, we believe we can dramatically enhance or even eliminate the need for expensive thermal management systems.”

A supercapacitor combines the best qualities of capacitors that charge in seconds and discharge energy in a burst and rechargeable batteries that charge slowly but release energy on demand over time. The ideal supercapacitor would charge quickly, store energy and release it as needed.<

See on www.sciencedaily.com