Month: January 2018

Younicos repowers another US wind farm’s legacy energy storage system with lithium-ion batteries

Younicos will carry out another project to retrofit lithium-ion batteries in replacement for an existing lead acid battery system at a wind farm, this time in Hawaii.

In December 2017, Energy-Storage.News reported that battery energy storage at the 36MW Notrees wind farm in Texas was successfully upgraded by the German-American system integrator to take out existing lead acid batteries and replace them with lithium. Company spokesman Philip Hiersemenzel said that the operation had been carried out with “minimal downtime” from the system.

Younicos is now following that up with the award of a contract to do the same for Kaheawa, a wind farm built in two phases totalling 51MW generation capacity, on the island of Mau, Hawaii, from developer and asset owner TerraForm Power. The energy storage facility will be of 10MW capacity, expected to have a short duration of storage and will be used to smooth out the variable output of the wind farm. The project is expected to be completed during the second half of this year and will be fitted with Younicos’ proprietary Y.Q. control software.

The lithium-ion retrofit will increase the usable energy capacity potential of the wind farm, increase operational lifetime of the energy storage system and the use of the Y.Q platform will enable the storage facility to run on a fully automated basis, including assessment and monitoring of the life of the battery.

“The combination of wind plus storage adds stability, while also making new revenue streams for renewables possible through services such as peak shifting or arbitrage,” Younicos managing director Jayesh Goyal said.

“It’s a win-win for both TerraForm and the environment.”  

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Jigar Shah: On green money and the freedom to invest, Part 2.

We continue with the second part of our feature interview with clean energy entrepreneur and financier Jigar Shah of Generate Capital. We’ve just left off discussing the risk profile of various investors and how the industry is gradually drawing attention from more traditional sources of capital, from the early adopter-venture capital mentality we have seen to date.

‘Energy as infrastructure’

The point is that oil and gas, while risky, can make 25% returns; wind and solar typically create closer to 6% to 10% returns, on the proverbial good day. Investing in renewables, Shah says, is closer to infrastructure investing – “if they buy an airport, they might get a 6% to 10% return” – than it is to the traditional fossil fuel market gamble. The money institutional investors would put into wind, solar or latterly energy storage projects therefore would probably not therefore represent a divestment and would come from separate funds to those oil and gas holdings, Shah argues. As he showed through years of reinventing solar finance, however, it’s still all about scaling up.

“The big thing for these institutions is that they can’t dive in to deals unless it’s a large cheque. So if someone comes to them with a US$25 million opportunity in battery storage, they just can’t do a US$25m deal. They really need to put their money out the door in larger quantities. So if they’re going to do deals directly, they’ll do solar and wind where they might be able to do a US$100 million deal, so they’re not going to smaller deals directly. So I don’t think it’s about risk as much as it is about comfort, and size.”

Shah remains passionate about solar. He says Generate is one of very few financiers investing in community solar, a state of affairs that he says he finds “weird”.

“Every community solar deal today has been forced to find insti­tutional off-takers. Why don’t you get Walmart, or this local school district to actually buy the power? Well, because those guys are not the ones the community solar statute was written for. Something as simple as that was basically blacklisted by the entire finance industry, and it wasn’t until we started coming in and funding it that people started opening their eyes.”

While there is some risk associated with low income customers and residential renters who may not live in one place for the long haul, this calculable risk can be built into the business proposition. Of course, in energy storage, the long-term value of a deal can be harder to figure out.

“It’s about figuring out what we can charge for,” Shah explains. “It’s saying, ‘What benefits will the industrial customer, or commercial customer pay for?’ Will they pay for it as a fixed payment because they believe it’s real and will occur every month? Or are they paying for it on a performance basis, where they say, prove to me at the end of the month that you’ll save me demand charges and then I’ll pay you 80% of what you show me.

“Those are two different risk profiles. In one case they’ve agreed that it works and they’re just paying us a fixed payment every month. In another application, like if the software fails to operate correctly, then we don’t get paid.”

Separate to that risk, Shah says, is regulatory risk. Many markets do not yet value the services batteries can provide, meaning that even where the demand exists, the regulatory space is yet to catch up.

Modelling the risk

Evaluating and finding ways around these risks is tricky. UK transmis­sion network operator National Grid recently said developers should not bank on revenues from providing frequency regulation services and should find ways to ‘stack’ multiple revenues for providing differ­ent services, behind and in front of the meter.

“If someone calls us up now and says they’ve included X number of dollars for grid services, we’re going to say ‘wait a second, we don’t think you’re going to get them until 2019 or 2020, and when you do get them it’s going to be this amount, not that amount’. We’re not miracle workers. We can’t just assume that these revenues are going to magically appear.

“You have to be able to model it. You certainly can get frequency regulation revenues for two years and those are pretty lucrative and could give you almost half your money back, which is great, or more. But then the question is what do you do next? What markets do you participate in next? And you just have to keep revenue stacking and modelling it.

“The other alternative with battery storage is that you could also potentially afford to just pick it up and move it! You could say for two years I’ll get this revenue and then move it to another place. So I certainly believe there is a rational way to finance projects with short-term revenues – but then the returns have to be similar to independent power producer returns, which are more in the 20% range.”

2018: The year utilities break through?

Asked what next year might hold, Shah’s answer is perhaps surpris­ingly downbeat, although laced with his usual fighting spirit. Utilities are quickly becoming wise to the value of energy storage, Shah says. It took many North American utilities several years of the solar market boom to realise they could not ignore it and hope it would go away. Nowadays utilities are presenting a multitude of approach­es to encouraging, accommodating or in some cases even pushing aside PV. Some utilities are now keen to own solar assets. Jigar Shah is expecting to see a similar dynamic in energy storage next year.

“Energy storage has broken through such that utilities [in the US] admit that their value is very high, at least to a 3.5% penetration. The fight now is really about who owns the storage – I am inclined to believe that the utility companies will win that battle,” Shah says.

“They will make sure that private owners of batteries don’t get paid a fair return – similar to what has happened to the demand response markets.”

While Shah thinks utilities will not be able to achieve a takeover of the market in 2018, they will “all decide that is the strategy”, he says. Yet he is not defeatist. I ask if that means it will be harder for the likes of Generate to keep making plays for the projects and technologies it wants to.

“It means that we have to innovate on our side to be able to continue to put our money to work,” he says.

Read Part 1 of this interview, which was published earlier this week on Energy-Storage.News, here.

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Arizona’s 3GW energy storage target, ‘Clean Peak plan’ part of a ‘wake up call’ to other states

A 3,000MW energy storage target, proposed in Arizona as part of a grid modernisation policy, recognises the role of the technology in reducing the need for fossil fuels to stabilise the grid, a consultant has said.

Yesterday, Andy Tobin of the state’s regulator, the Corporation Commission, presented a plan that includes a goal to generate 80% of Arizona’s power from renewable sources by 2050, a commitment to review the existing Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) policy, to use renewables to mitigate peaks establishing a ‘Clean Peak’ standard and to deploy 3,000MW of energy storage to “leverage low priced energy during the day”.

The Commission will vote on the proposal in the next couple of weeks. A final vote is expected which would make the regulatory proposal legally binding, within six months to a year, Lon Huber, vice president and head of consulting at Stratagen Consulting, told Energy-Storage.News.

The 3GW target would be the biggest established to date in the US – the first state to set a target, California, is calling for 1.35GW by 2024 and New York for 1.5GW by 2025. While the timeline for deployment is longer for Arizona than those two previous title-holders, Huber pointed out that relative to the state’s size, the figure pencils out at a far higher capacity deployed per capita than in the others.

Lon Huber said the establishment of the target is closely linked to known plans for development of new gas turbine facilities by Arizona’s major utilities, including Arizona Public Service, which is projecting that it will need 5GW of new gas plants by 2032. Huber said it was likely the 3,000MW figure was arrived at as “a fraction of the new combustion turbines in the IRP (Integrated Resource Plans) of the utilities”.

“I think the assessment of what could be cost-effective storage was probably based on the need for new peakers over the next 15 years, more than anything. I think the innovation here is that, depending on different states and how they do things, you could end up in a situation where you buy a lot of renewables but you still need a large fossil backup fleet.”

While renewables-plus-storage may not be ready to take over the role of large thermal generation plants – and in the case of Arizona, the US’ largest nuclear power plant – in providing baseload energy, Huber said that in the hierarchy of needs, peaker plants which are often only run on a part-time basis to stabilise the grid, come first. In a recent blog for Energy-Storage.News, Marek Kubik at storage system provider and integrator Fluence wrote about an academic study into Ireland’s grid which showed the role batteries could play there in stabilising the grid using far less capacity than thermal generation.

Huber said Tobin and the Corporation Commission appear to have realised that ratepayers should not have to pay for both the renewables deployed and the fossil fuels used to stabilise their variable output onto the grid, with Arizona set to use “renewables to whittle down that fossil backup fleet, so that ratepayers don’t pay twice for resources”.

Essentially, with utility-scale solar prices lower than wholesale in Arizona, at as low as 2.5 to 3 cents per kWh on a 25-year PPA, the state has “super-cheap fuel” which it can now use for meeting peak demand, Huber said.  

The plan

The multi-faceted proposal calls for:

Modernisation of policy framework – including renaming the REST policy the Clean Resource Energy Standard and Tariff (CREST). The Commission said will “allow for the development of broader diversified energy policies relating to clean energy resources, energy storage, and energy efficiency, not just those related to renewable energy”.

80% clean energy goal – the state will generate 80% of its energy from renewable and clean sources by 2050, with an “ultimate 100% goal”, although no timeline has been given for the latter. Utilities will file annual CREST plans with the regulator to demonstrate how they will work towards achieving these goals.

3,000MW energy storage target by 2030 – the Commission aims to enable the state to “leverage” off-peak power generated during the day by solar, as well as adding resilience and stability to the grid network. Again, utilities will file annual CREST implementation plans with the regulator.

Biomass – 60MW target for utilities to procure annually between them. Part of the idea behind this policy is to sustainably source fuel from forests which pose a wildfire risk if their growth is kept unchecked.  

Clean Peak standard – regulated utilities will be required to set a Clean Peak Target, harnessing dipatchable renewable energy. The utilities must incrementally increase their baseline figure of peak energy coming from renewable sources by 1.5% each year, again filing annual CREST implementation plans with the Corporation Commission.

Utility view

Lon Huber said that while there have been well-publicised battles over solar in Arizona, particularly in a pushback against rooftop solar from utilities, utility–scale PV in the state is far cheaper and with a higher capacity value, hence support for utility solar has been strong for some time.

“The distribution system in Arizona is not like in New York or California, there’s not huge constrained load pocket that you can’t get wires into and so there’s no way a distribution system can make up for a seven cent gap or whatever it is. So I think it’s important to note that Arizona is a different animal in terms of distributed versus utility-scale,” Huber said.

The utilities will have to modify their 15-year IRPs to meet the new standards, Huber said and it will be a case of “wait and see” what the likes of TEP, APS and NV Energy – which recently announced a renewables tender that included consideration of energy storage – have to say as major stakeholders in the energy system. The Arizona CREST proposal could be a “wake up call” for other states, according to Lon Huber.

“We’ll see how other states react to it. It’s anyone’s guess but I think it should send a little bit of a wake-up call to certain states that maybe haven’t thought about modernising their renewable energy policy…That’s sort of like the key thing. Other states should take note – technology is improving, why don’t you update your policies to take that into account?”

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California regulators at ‘essential starting point’ to enable revenue stacking

Steps taken in California to enable energy storage systems to provide multiple services and to ‘stack revenues’ are “an essential starting point” for the industry, the head of California’s Energy Storage Alliance (CESA) has said.

In mid-January, California’s Public Utilities’ Commission (CPUC), the state regulator, issued a Proposed Decision on “Multiple use application issues” affecting energy storage systems connected to the grid. For some time, the energy storage industry, particularly among those working with versatile advanced lithium-ion batteries, has advocated that the ability of storage to provide more than one service – sometimes simultaneously – should be better recognised.

This would be of economic benefit to the system owners or operators, who could net several revenue streams that could be built into a ‘revenue stack’, while obviating the need to deploy several energy storage systems or other energy infrastructure that can carry out the same functions, at various locations, which would benefit ratepayers and the overall network. A report by the Brattle Group published in September last year, commissioned by battery and system maker Eos Energy Storage and funded in part by the California Energy Commission (CEC) found that the value of a front-of-meter battery energy storage system in California could double or even treble by adding more than one revenue stream to a project.

To read the full version of this story visit Energy-Storage.News.

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Jigar Shah: On green money and the freedom to invest

At Energy-Storage.News, we have seen the industry rise and rise, driven on by specific geographies and higher-value applications. Analysts tracking energy storage, such as Mercom Capital, which issues quarterly reports on mergers and acquisitions and venture capital funding, have found significant sums of capital being put forward for new technologies and latterly for project financing, with increasing frequency.

As solar PV went through the learning curve of its boom years, capital first came mostly from private investors and risk-hungry VCs. Only as the market matured did longer-term, institutional investors start to get involved. While the likes of superstar clean-tech VC investor Nancy Pfund have told us that the energy storage space is getting ripe for big money, with institutional investors eyeing opportunities closely, hands have not yet gone into pockets on a grand scale.

In late October 2017, Generate Capital, led by an executive team that includes SunEdison founder Jigar Shah, raised about US$200 million in equity investment, with input from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp (APFC). Both the sum of money and the fact that a large sum of it was sourced from an institutional investment group – APFC is a sovereign fund for the state of Alaska – are notable. Generate prides itself on finding opportunities across the whole spectrum of clean energy.

While best known for his pioneering work in solar finance, Shah and the Generate board appear just as excited these days about the potential for other technologies too, from batteries to anaerobic digestion, fuel cells for forklifts, to low carbon solutions for purifying drinking water.

Speaking to Shah over the phone, it’s obvious that he relishes what he calls the “complete freedom” to invest where Generate thinks it can make the most impact, be it “water, agriculture, waste, battery storage” or other options.

It’s a question of being trusted to take calculated risks, Shah says, of negotiating a frontier that is littered not just with potentially ‘good’ deals and ‘bad’ deals but more commonly also includes “misunder­stood” technologies or business ideas. He explains that, for example, through the recent history of the energy storage industry, the thought of funding the technology had “traditional finance provid­ers very scared, initially”.

Generate, on the other hand, was experienced with renewables and clean tech and convinced of their potential. This has led to the company “providing a lot of capital” to a series of solar-plus-storage and behind-the-meter energy storage projects already.

For Generate Capital, there will always be a “frontier of deals that are misunderstood”, Shah says.

“That problem will never get solved. There will always be someone that has to go first, or second, or third, in helping a technology that has proven itself on a technology basis but has not proven itself on an institutional infrastructure basis.”

Gradually we have seen banks and other financiers starting to become comfortable with solar PV, especially in North America. Yet according to Shah that reluctance still exists when it comes to more advanced technologies and Generate Capital sees itself as a conduit for cashflow into less traditional areas of clean infrastructure invest­ment.

“Generate is really about serving the market, before sort of the commodity capital sources start streaming in,” he explains. “Once you feel you can get 5% money from Deutsche Bank, Generate is no longer as competitive. Right now, there are a lot of applications of storage that continue to be misunderstood by the broader finance community.”

Examples where the funder stepped in where banks feared to tread have included solar-plus-storage projects, behind-the-meter applications, or even energy storage projects in Ontario planned to mitigate the effects of the Canadian region’s Global Adjustment Charge, payable by electricity ratepayers to finance conservation and demand management programmes.


As for the advent of institutional investment in energy storage, there have only been one or two blips on the radar until now. Swiss group SUSI Partners created SUSI Energy Storage Fund, reaching its first closing in April this year at just over US$70 million, with backers including pension funds and insurance companies. While it’s obvious that just as with banks, institutional investors will start to get comfortable with energy storage, Generate’s opportunity to work with the Alaska Permanent Fund’s capital is one of only a handful of other examples.

There has been little pressure on pension funds and others to see energy storage, or even solar-plus-storage as a viable divestment option from fossil fuels. While it might seem also that institutional investors would err on the side of conservatism in deploying their capital, this isn’t necessarily the reason why many haven’t bought into the storage revolution yet.

“[Institutional investors] invest in hedge funds, private equity funds. They invest in a lot of things that you might privately think are risky. The hook at this point is that for many of these companies, or investors, they’re really focused on oil and gas investing. And you know, oil and gas investing has been quite volatile as of late,” Shah says.

Part 2 of this interview, which originally appeared in PV Tech Power, Volume 13, will be published on the site later this week.

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‘Decapitating the duck curve’: NEXTracker CEO Dan Shugar on energy storage

NEXTracker CEO Dan Shugar sat down to talk to Energy-Storage.News about developing – and selling – energy storage systems in lithium and flow battery ‘flavours’ alongside his company’s market-leading PV tracker systems.

So I guess the most obvious first question would be: Why buy energy storage from a PV tracker company?

Well, we’re a power systems company and a global manufacturer and we’re here to look into customer needs and problems and solve them, not push a product. The roots of NEXTracker go back years. Most of the executive staff has been with me for 15-18 years. We think about and understand utility rate structures, long-term warranties, service. So we’re really a systems company and so we have that DNA and we really understand EPCs and we understand service.

For us, it’s really just that the needs now have landed there foursquare [in the] mainstream for the market. It’s the confluence of two things: one has been the dramatically lowered costs for the technology with both our flow and lithium, secondly our spectacular success on the PV side, where we’ve really taken a bite out of the middle of the day power requirements in a lot of our core markets and the tracker is beautiful there. But then you need to keep going, that’s what the storage stuff is all about.

After launching the flow battery product a while back, what was the idea behind adding NX Drive, a lithium battery version, more recently?

The beautiful thing about having both the lithium and flow product is that we cover a very wide range of use cases. With the lithium, the technology favours incredible discharge capability, incredible power density, well-filled supply chain, multiple manufacturers, and it’s the ideal product for short to medium-term or medium duration storage applications.

The flow [battery system] is an extremely long-life product. We have at NEXTracker an outdoor test facility, the Solar Center of Excellence, it’s a three-acre facility and we’ve added a storage test facility there as well.

We ran a global RFP (Request for Proposal) several years ago called ‘Decapitating the Duck’. We were somewhat technology agnostic at that point, we just wanted to understand what was out there. With Avalon specifically we basically had both a baby unit and the production unit out in our field cycling many times every day, with the baby unit we’ve achieved over 9 years of cycling and we haven’t been able to measure any degradation within the measurement area of the equipment. It’s unbelievably stable. We brought a lot of customers out in the field that can look at all the components, look at the data and so forth.

The flow product takes more space than the lithium product but in these fields where we’re doing the solar, our architecture is that we put one at the end of every row with the solar tracker, it’s the natural place to [do that] and it’s DC-coupled, and that provides several advantages to AC-coupling, technically, so that’s a great application for that.

For flow, my view, having been in the energy business for 30 years, is the numbers have always pencilled out well, but it’s been slow to take off.

From your point of view, how have you been able to deliver economies of scale or production in developing these products? And how much of the products’ design has been in-house versus bought-in?

What’s also just very strategic is, between the NX Drive (lithium batteries) and NX Flow (flow battery) products, is that they share a common SCADA, monitoring and control system that’s also shared with our tracker platform. So we have designed and developed electronic control for the tracker and we have hundreds of thousands of them out in the world that are reliably communicating to us. It’s based on the backbone of the wireless mesh network, the same backbone used in utility smart metering. So that’s an extremely reliable platform.

We used that intrinsic platform for our control system and both these battery technologies, employ this control system. It’s backed up by (parent company) Flex’s IP system, the Connected Intelligence system, so that’s the backbone for data security and the integrity of data. But then we had also built a software team, we acquired a machine learning company a few years ago and that company can do predictive diagnostics and create signatures on preventative maintenance and things like that. So we have the whole package, mechanical, electrical, thermal management, fire suppression, the monitoring control and basically, predictive analytics.

We can incorporate the charging algorithms and control strategies, developed by others. There’s a lot of expertise in that, we work with other partners, that have that software for the charging and discharging, for control and tying it to the customer. That piece, we’re working with other partners.

What we have is basically, all of the mechanical, fire suppression, thermal management. We’re monitoring key aspects of the system, of the health of the battery system and those types of things.  

In terms of customer needs, how will they evaluate which solution of the two works best for them?

There’s three scenarios where the lithium thoroughly wins, one where the flow thoroughly wins and then one where it’s a toss-up and we give customers the option. Our focus is really to solve the need for the customer, most affordably – and not to push a product. So we’ll make options available. We have a proven product in both cases and of course we can tailor that product to specific needs, like if they really want battery A versus battery B. For the lithium, that’s fine, we can deal with that, but the nice thing is that you don’t want every project to be customer-engineered and you really want to be able to leverage the broad application and many customers across a single platform. That way you can invest in R&D, in reliability work and those types of things.

That was our strategy with the tracker and we’re doing the same thing with the battery. With the tracker, we were the first ones to introduce the self-powered tracker, independent rows and other features.

We’re just really focused on every single customer engagement to be successful for the customer. That’s all that matters and if you do that everything else takes care of itself. That’s been my operating philosophy throughout my career.

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Your most-read energy storage stories of 2017

Well, we seem to say it at the end of every year, but 2017 seemed a lot busier than 2016, 2016 was busier and more exciting than the year before that, and so on! There have been some hints already on what the industry and its observers expect to see in 2018 and we do not doubt energy storage will continue in its rise to become a flexible cornerstone of the world’s electricity infrastructure.

In the meantime, let’s reflect on the top news stories of last year, as reported by Energy-Storage.News and based on readership statistics from you:

1. Saltwater battery’ maker Aquion Energy back from dead under new ownership

Aquion Energy, one of energy storage’s more intriguing propositions, taking an award-winning, non-toxic, recyclable and novel battery chemistry based on saltwater, was in the early stages of market-seeding and made its first big deployments when it declared for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.

Somewhat unexpectedly, the company was snapped up by Juline-Titans, a mostly-unknown investment group described as a “majority-American joint venture (JV)”. Of course, lithium-ion and to a lesser extent flow batteries form the vast majority of the world’s stationary energy storage market, but interest in Aquion perhaps demonstrates that the space is constantly looking to move forward.

Published 24 July 2017

2. Tesla 48MWh battery eliminates need to build undersea cable in Massachusetts for up to 22 years

A pretty significant project for a very small community. Energy-Storage.News reported in early November that the island of Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts, could save itself the expense and pain of building an undersea cabling network for better connection to the US grid network using a 6MW / 48MWh energy storage system.

Published 8 November 2017

3. Multiple Indian ‘Gigafactories’ expected by 2019

Under the stewardship of prime minister Narendra Modi, India has raced ahead in its solar ambitions, as avid readers of PV Tech in particular will have noted. India Energy Storage Alliance chief Dr Rahul Walawalkar told Energy-Storage.News in July that there is likely to be more, much more, to come in energy storage and the combined solar-plus-storage sector. With the country aiming to support domestic manufacturing and enterprise as well as a clean energy transition, batteries could be churned out of one or more Gigawatt-scale factories before long, Walawalkar said.

Published 12 July 2017

4. Blockchain and batteries will assist German grid operator in integrating renewables

‘Blockchain’ was on everybody’s lips this year as the most-talked about concept in commerce – and steps have begun to bring the distributed ledger technology into energy. Our story on energy storage system provider Sonnen partnering with grid operator TenneT to ‘virtually’ store and share renewable energy across Germany therefore easily made it into the top five stories of the year.

You can read more in-depth about this trial from Sonnen’s head of e-services, Jean-Baptiste Cornefert, along with a discussion of blockchain and energy storage from Younicos CTO Carsten Reincke-Collon, in the latest volume of PV Tech Power, here.

Published 2 May 2017

5. Large-scale dispatchable solar-plus-storage costs could drop below 10 cents per kWh, Eos claims

Another of the non-lithium, non-flow contenders made it into the top 10 news last year, as Eos Energy Storage claimed radical cost-drops for its zinc hybrid cathode batteries when paired with solar PV at utility-scale. Eos said its grid-scale Aurora-branded 1MW / 4MWh systems could be delivered at as much as 40% lower cost than an equivalent lithium system with four hours’ energy storage duration.

Published 7 February 2017

6. Flow batteries leading the way in lithium-free niches

During the course of the year, we revisited this topic several times from different angles and with views from commentators across the industry. Just how bankable are flow batteries and will they – and other new technologies – start to eat into the +95% share of energy storage deployments held by lithium to date? This, the most-read story on the subject, looked at analysis by Navigant Research.

Published 18 September 2017

7. Giant 4,000MWh Li-ion battery storage facility proposed for 800MW PV farm in Queensland

On some level, it almost doesn’t seem relevant whether or not a project is the biggest such project in the world of its type, at any given time in an industry gathering pace and scale as quickly as energy storage is. But let’s face it, it’s often a quick way to ignite interest when the world sees how quickly the size and scale of projects increases – something we’ve seen time and again in solar PV. A report on a planned mammoth project in Australia, one of several announced this year, made it into our top 10 for 2017.

Published 20 April 2017

8. Tesla launches first aggregated ‘virtual power plant’ in US

If blockchain was this year’s big buzzword in technology, the ‘virtual power plant’ is another big concept not long ago thought to be well ahead of its time, too. Technology providers have been touting their ability to aggregate the capabilities of behind-the-meter energy storage systems to create larger network assets, for some time. This was the first instance Tesla Powerwalls were interconnected by a Vermont utility to create a “single resource of shared energy”.

Published 16 May 2017

9. SDG&E and Sumitomo unveil largest vanadium redox flow battery in the US

Sumitomo Electric, a division of the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, which has already installed a 60MWh flow battery system for renewable energy integration in its homeland also executed the largest US redox flow energy storage system to date this year. Delivered for California utility San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), which will trial the voltage frequency control, power outage support and the shifting energy demand capabilities of the battery. At ‘just’ 2MW / 8MWh it is perhaps a drop in the ocean in the long run, but for now, it’s the biggest known system of its type in the US.

Published 17 March 2017

10. PJM’s frequency regulation rule changes causing ‘significant and detrimental harm’

Your final selection for the top 10 sounded a cautionary note. US regional transmission network operator PJM Interconnection, which was one of the first such organisations in the world to allow fast-acting batteries to compete with conventional assets to provide frequency regulation to the grid, changed its rules for participation.

The changes are a little complicated, so we’d recommend you read the story in full but in a nutshell, the national Energy Storage Association argued that storage resources are now being ordered to draw power from the grid for prolonged periods of time, which ESA argues is inconsistent with the resources’ original design and operational parameters.

Published 18 April 2017

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