Monday, April 25, 2011

PSERC awarded $5.5 million to Study Energy System Grid

The Power Systems Energy Research Center (PSERC) has been awarded a $5.5 million grant from the Department of Energy to investigate requirements for a systematic transformation of today’s electric grid. The future grid needs to support high penetrations of highly variable distributed energy resources mixed with large central generation sources, energy storage and responsive users equipped with embedded intelligence and automation. These sustainable energy systems require more than improvements to the existing system; they require transformative changes in planning and operating electric power systems.

Vijay Vittal, director of PSERC and Ira A. Fulton Chair in Electrical Engineering at Arizona State University, is leading a multidisciplinary, multi-university team to investigate these challenges and to seek solutions to achieve the needed transformation.

“The effective transformation of the grid will require identification and solution of major operating, planning, workforce and economic challenges,” says Vittal. “Changes are already occurring to enable sustainable systems, particularly with the growing introduction of smart grid technologies. Research is still needed to make it possible to achieve much higher penetrations of wind, solar and other distributed generation resources economically, efficiently and reliably.”

To date, the energy system architecture has been a hierarchically-connected network with tightly synchronized energy resources. The envisioned system is going to be very different. It will be more complex, heterogeneous and dynamic. The operating environment will be more uncertain due in part to the variability of renewable energy production, to diverse and distributed operating objectives and to greater reliance on customer responsiveness to maintain power system reliability.

PSERC will be investigating innovations in network architectures; planning approaches; operation, control and protection paradigms; computational and analysis challenges; carbon policy implications; customer response programs; and resilient cyber-physical systems. For example, tight synchronicity and balancing constraints may be relaxed through an architecture based on autonomous local energy clusters and microgrids that localize the quality standards. The future grid will also rely on an IT infrastructure with underlying communications networks that will enable the physical network to closely interact and support the performance objectives of sustainable energy systems. Regional differences in energy resources and the legacy electric power grid will affect requirements for the future grid.

“We are leveraging existing digital technologies that can enable effective end-to-end adaptation of renewable resources into the electric grid system,” says Vittal. “PSERC researchers will use their knowledge of today’s operating and planning paradigms for electric power grids, as well as their knowledge of the technologies, and market systems, as the starting point for introducing new paradigms and transition strategies from today’s systems.”

PSERC will also develop educational resources to ensure that the existing and future power and energy engineering workforce can enable a high penetration of sustainable energy systems by envisioning the requirements of the future energy system; and designing, planning, manufacturing, building and operating the diverse energy systems.

PSERC expertise incorporates three major research stems critical to planning the transformation of the grid system: power systems; electricity markets; and transmission and distribution technologies. PSERC university partners have a long-standing history in power system research and education. They are located around the country: Arizona State, Carnegie Mellon, Colorado School of Mines, Cornell, Georgia Institute of Technology, Howard, University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Washington State, Wichita State, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. PSERC was founded in 1996 and is currently supported by 36 industry and government partners.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Small Batteries Power Biggest Growth in the EV Market Says Lux

The overall market for energy storage technologies that power electric vehicles is set to grow from $13 billion in 2011 to $30 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%. But, while prominent plug-in passenger cars like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf grab most of the headlines, the bulk of future growth will be driven by more humble vehicles, such as e-bikes and micro-hybrids, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Titled “Small Batteries, Big Sales: The Unlikely Winners in the Electric Vehicle Market,” the report offers a reality check on the hype surrounding batteries for electric passenger cars by looking at the overall market for electric vehicles. Specifically, it provides both a bottom-up analysis of the potential for storage technologies, including batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells, as well as a top-down analysis of the demand generated for these technologies by different vehicle types, including e-bikes, passenger vehicles, buses and trains.

“Although battery prices for all-electric and hybrid passenger cars are dropping, they’re not dropping far enough or quickly enough to fuel the sort of broad adoption that advocates expect,” said Kevin See, a Lux Analyst and the report’s lead author. “Instead, the substantial growth we see for vehicle-related storage technologies will be powered mostly by e-bikes – which are shifting from lead acid to Li-ion battery technology – and microhybrids, which offer a more incremental, low-risk way for automakers to improve fuel efficiencies.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Micro-hybrids offer auto OEMs the shortest road to improved fuel efficiency. Micro-hybrids, which apply energy storage only toward start-stop and/or regenerative braking applications, require neither the drastic redesigns nor the more expensive battery costs that all-electric or hybrid electric vehicles do. Thus, they are set to surpass these other passenger vehicle types in terms of both total storage and dollars in 2016, growing from 5.1 GWh and $495 million, to 41 GWh and $3.1 billion – CAGRs of 52% and 44%, respectively.

  • E-bikes pack minimal storage but compensate with sheer volume. Although their 0.4 kWh to 1.0 kWh of storage is a far cry from the Nissan Leaf’s 24-kWh battery pack, e-bikes will continue to dominate the overall market in terms of dollars and MWh. Replacement batteries for the currently deployed base – largely in China – plus strong growth in new sales will drive growth from 84.2 GWh and $12.0 billion in 2011, to 156.6 GWh and $24.3 billion in 2016, a CAGR of 13% in kWh and 15%in dollars.

  • Advanced lead-acid batteries dominate the current and future storage market. While Li-ion technology will eat into lead-acid sales for e-bikes, and supercapacitors will steal share in micro-hybrids, lead-acid will maintain a comfortable lead in both of these high-volume and growing markets. Overall, the market for lead-acid batteries will grow from 83 GWh and $9.4 billion in 2011, to 165GWh and $16.1 billion in 2016, CAGRs of 15% and 12%, respectively.

“Small Batteries, Big Sales: The Unlikely Winners in the Electric Vehicle Market,” is part of the Lux Electric Vehicles Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Electric Vehicles Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.