Friday, August 12, 2011

ZBB to Provide Energy Storage for US Navy Micro-Grid Project

ZBB Energy Corporation (NYSE Amex: ZBB)was awarded a contract from the US Navy Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, San Diego (FISCSD). ZBB will provide a 1000kWH/500kW-rated energy storage system for use in a micro-grid application at the San Nicolas Island Naval Facility, located in the Catalina Island group just west of Los Angeles (see illustration). The system will utilize ZBB's newly branded EnerSystem technologies, comprised of ZBB's Power & Energy Control Center (PECC) and Version 3 zinc bromide flow battery modules.

The contract is for the supply of equipment and services for work supported by the Office of Naval Research-Technology Insertion Program for Savings (ONR-TIPS) with the purpose of accelerated transition of new technology. During the next two years, the EnerSystem will be tested and certified to maintain power quality and perform load management for off peak produced power of the wind turbines and diesel electric power plant power delivery system at NOLF-SNI. The certifying body is Idaho National Laboratories. This will be the first time that an advanced energy storage system is tested with large-scale renewable sources, in conjunction with actual load management and generator plant control schemes in a micro-grid application in North America. Successful tests and certification will make available transition of this technology to more wide spread Navy use.

The ZBB EnerSystem will be used continuously in an ongoing operational mode to minimize diesel gen set runtime in conjunction with wind turbines and future PV arrays on the island. The base's overall system will focus on the power control for micro-grid stability, quality, and load leveling needs on the base.

ZBB's power electronics (PECC) will be used to interconnect the flow battery modules and future renewable inputs to the existing base micro-grid and recently installed wind turbines. ZBB will work closely with the Navy in Port Hueneme, CA and the project's design and installation civilian contractor to define operational standards for advanced energy storage systems on micro-grids such as this project and for use at future naval facilities.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gemasolar Touts 350 MWph/Day Power Plant with Energy Storage

From the first of May 2011, the commercial operation for Torresol Energy's Gemasolar power plant, the first commercial plant in the world to use molten salt storage in a central tower configuration with a heliostat field, yielded better results than were expected. With its 19.9 MW of power, Gemasolar reached peak production levels of over 350 MWh in 24 hours of uninterrupted operation.

Thanks to its storage capacity in July, Gemasolar was able to supply energy during the hours of highest demand in Spain: 12 pm and 10 pm. The highest demand in Spain has two peaks. One is produced in the day. The second one, in general the strongest, is produced just after sunset. The forecast for August is that Gemasolar will continue the upward trend it has maintained since its entry into operation last May.

Gemasolar, the world's first commercial high temperature solar plant, capable of reaching more than 500ºC degrees, to enter into commercial operation, boasts a storage capacity of 15 hours. That storage capacity makes it possible for it to supply energy to the grid based on demand, regardless of whether there is constant solar radiation. With this project, Torresol Energy has made generating dispatchable power from renewable energy sources a reality.

It is expected that Gemasolar will produce a net total of over 110,000 MWh per year by operating for a total of 6450 hours a year at full capacity. The summer months are when the plant is at its greatest efficiency; therefore, Torresol Energy's technicians estimate that come mid-September, its equivalent average production time will be 18 hours at full capacity per day.

The Gemasolar plant, located in Fuentes de Andalucía (Seville), is a property of Torresol Energy, a joint venture between the engineering and technology group SENER, and Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s multi-faceted renewable energy initiative. SENER has been responsible for supplying all of the technology for Gemasolar, the engineering detail design and for leading the EPC and commissioning works of the plant. As for Masdar, a strategic developer of renewable energy power projects, the company is proud of the commercial approach they have taken to funding and operating this facility.

Felicia Bellows, Executive Vice President of Development for Torresol Energy U.S.A., explains: "Currently we are the only company in the world that is commissioning a commercial central tower project with molten salt receiver capable of absorbing 90% of the solar radiation. Gemasolar is Torresol Energy's flagship project because of its innovative technology, and in the short term we expect to be able to develop similar plants on the South West Coast of the U.S., where there are optimal levels of solar irradiation."

Frank Wouters, the director of Masdar Power, said: “The first months of Gemasolar’s operation have exceeded expectations. Masdar Power believes in introducing and launching new technologies in the clean energy spectrum, and we will continue to explore fresh opportunities to implement such novel technologies that will bring multiple benefits to the community.”

Mercedes Sierra, Vice President of SENER office in the US, adds: "The efficiency of this technology, which is developed by SENER, is proving to be vastly superior to conventional solar technologies, either without storage systems or which can't reach such high temperatures."

Gemasolar can reach operating temperatures of over 500°C, much higher than plants with parabolic trough technology, as it does not require oil, but rather directly uses the salt as a transfer fluid. The salt, at over 500°C, generates hotter, pressurized steam to move the turbine, which significantly increases the plant's efficiency. Meanwhile, some of this hot salt is stored in order to continue generating electricity while there is no sunshine. Thus, Gemasolar, with a 19.9 MW turbine can supply electricity to a population of 25,000 inhabitants in the South of Spain.

Among the plant's most cutting-edge equipment is its receiver, located at the top of the tower over 130 m high, where the 2,650 heliostats of the solar field concentrate the solar irradiation at a ratio of 1000:1.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Purdue to Offer Energy Storage Program

Purdue University is developing a program in energy storage technology in cooperation with the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, located at Crane, Ind. Purdue and NSWC Crane expect the program eventually to lead to a master's degree in chemical engineering.

"This new program will train leaders in a technology that is becoming increasingly important in our modern world," said Victor Lechtenberg, interim associate vice president for engagement. "That the first students are from NSWC Crane means this training will be in the hands of people able to develop the technology quickly and for the benefit of our country."

"Expanding the academic education of our talented work force is sure to enhance their ability to better serve our warfighters," said Kyle Werner, division manager for energy, power and interconnect technology at NSWC Crane. "Energy and power requirements on the battlefield continue to grow at near exponential rates. With NSWC Crane as the Department of Defense's largest collection of resources dedicated to electrochemical power sources, developing next generation energy storage solutions is critically important to our mission."

The program began in July with two intensive segments for 16 students at the Crane West Gate Research Park. The summer program is non-credit but will offer a certificate. This fall, the students will take their first credit course.

The courses will be taught through a combination of on-campus and online delivery. They will come from chemical, materials and industrial engineering.

"Through a selection of courses and research/design projects, students will learn fundamentals of both engineering and energy storage technologies," said James Caruthers, Reilly Professor of Chemical Engineering and director of the program. "This program is a clear demonstration of how two of Indiana's leading institutions can partner on a project to increase technical capabilities in the state to address opportunities in energy storage of defense and industrial importance."

The master's in chemical engineering program is expected to take three years to complete. The initial program will be developed for NSWC Crane's specifications. Other individuals or businesses will be able to participate in future offerings.

This follows an agreement by Purdue and NSWC Crane in September of last year, focused on a broad range of projects designed to provide state-of-the-art energy storage and power management technologies for U.S. combat forces. Among the planned research areas are battery efficiency and safety; high-fidelity sensors for energy storage systems; mitigation of lithium battery fires; hydrogen storage research; bio material growth, harvesting and processing for power; and fuel cell advancements.

DoE Awards Nearly $7 Million to Advance Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Storage Research

The U.S. Department of Energy announced nearly $7 million over five years for independent cost analyses that will support research and development efforts for fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems. The four projects – in California, Ohio, and Virginia – will generate rigorous cost estimates for manufacturing equipment, labor, energy, raw materials, and various components that will help identify ways to drive down production costs of transportation fuel cell systems, stationary fuel cell systems, and hydrogen storage systems. These projects will provide important data that will help the Department focus future research and development funding on the fuel cell components and manufacturing processes that can deliver the greatest gains in efficiency.

"These projects will help advance our fuel cell and hydrogen storage research efforts and bring down the costs of producing and manufacturing next generation fuel cells," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "These technologies are part of a broad portfolio that will create new American jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and increase our competitiveness in today's global clean energy economy."

The DoE said these projects will generate lifecycle cost analyses of existing and conceptual fuel cell systems for transportation and stationary applications. The projects will analyze a range of system sizes, manufacturing volumes, and applications, including transportation, backup power and material-handling equipment such as forklifts. Cost analyses are conducted by designing the system and conceptualizing its manufacturing process, selecting manufacturing equipment, determining labor and energy, and obtaining prices for materials and manufacturing equipment. The design of systems and manufacturing process is guided and vetted through system models at National Laboratories, patent and literature research, presentation from developers, and peer review.

The four projects selected for award are:

  • Directed Technologies, Inc. – Arlington, VA – up to $3 million for two projects
    Directed Technologies will conduct two cost analyses under these awards – one focused on transportation fuel cell systems and the other on hydrogen storage systems. The transportation fuel cell systems project will analyze and estimate the cost of transportation fuel cell systems for use in vehicles including light-duty vehicles and buses. The cost analyses of hydrogen storage systems will also examine various cost parameters including capital equipment, raw materials, labor, and energy to gain an understanding of system cost drivers and future pathways to lower system costs. The analyses will include rigorous annual cost estimates of fuel cell power systems or hydrogen storage systems that will help industry optimize the design of components and manufacturing processes at various rates of production. Sensitivity studies will examine how total manufacturing costs are affected by changes to the fuel cell system design and cost parameters such as platinum price, cell power density, operating pressure, operating temperature or the number of cells in the fuel cell stack.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – Berkeley, CA – up to $1.9 million
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop total cost models for low- and high-temperature stationary fuel cell systems up to 250 kilowatts (kW). This project will yield accurate projections of current system costs and assess the impacts of state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, increases in production volume, and design changes on system and lifecycle costs for several near-term and emerging fuel cell markets.
  • Battelle Memorial Institute – Columbus, OH – up to $2 million
    Over the course of this project, Battelle Memorial Institute will provide cost assessments for stationary fuel cell applications up to 25 kW, including forklifts, backup power units, primary power, and combined heat and power systems. The project will also provide cost analyses of large-scale fuel cell applications ranging from 100 to 250 kW, such as auxiliary power, primary power, and large-scale combined heat and power systems. The analyses conducted under this project will provide a better understanding of performance, design and manufacturing options, and life-cycle costs, which will help optimize fuel cell designs, manufacturing methods, and target applications.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brightsource Energy Adds Energy Storage to Solar Thermal Offering

BrightSource Energy, Inc., a solar thermal technology company, launched a new solar thermal power plant solution for utilities. Called SolarPLUS, the offering combines BrightSource’s high-efficiency LPT power tower solar thermal technology with two-tank molten-salt storage.
The benefits of this combination include:
  • Extending the production of electricity into later parts of the day and after the sun sets when it is most valued by utilities
  • Reducing the cost of renewable power for utilities’ customers by increasing a plant’s capacity factor and offering higher efficiencies than competing solar thermal power plants
  • Providing utilities with greater operational flexibility to shape production to meet changing utility customer demand
  • Offering utilities and grid operators additional operational and market value, by providing balancing and shaping capabilities, as well as ancillary services to support a reliable grid.

Adding storage to a solar thermal power plant reduces the cost of energy produced at a plant by increasing its capacity factor - how much power a plant produces – by extending the production of electricity into later parts of the day when it is most needed by utilities. The ability to increase capacity factors by adding proven storage represents a significant advantage for solar thermal over other renewable resources like photovoltaics (PV) and wind that do not yet have economical storage capabilities.

According to BrightSource, its SolarPLUS plants also have efficiency and cost advantages over competing parabolic trough solar thermal technologies because of the LPT solar thermal power generating technology’s ability to reach higher temperature and higher pressure operating levels. Today, BrightSource’s LPT solar thermal power generating technology is producing the world’s highest temperature (540 degrees Celcius) and pressure (140 Bar) steam from solar. In contrast, parabolic trough plants are limited to approximately 400 degrees Celcius and 100 bar pressure. The ability to reach higher temperature and pressure operating levels allows for more improved economics in pure solar generation and in storage mode relative to parabolic troughs due to higher operating efficiencies.

The company notes that, in addition to producing firm and dispatchable power, storage also provides operational flexibility, balancing and shaping capabilities, and ancillary benefits to help support a reliable grid, reducing the need for additional fossil fuel units necessitated by the intermittency of PV and wind.
“Electricity markets with high penetration levels of intermittent resources are starting to place significant value on those resources that can provide clean energy as well as operational flexibility and reliability services to the grid,” said Dr. Udi Helman, Director of Economic and Pricing Analysis for BrightSource Energy. “BrightSource’s SolarPLUS solar thermal power plants will empower utilities with a flexible power source that meets electricity demand at peak, can be used to further lower wholesale power costs, and supports grid reliability by providing ancillary services and improved resource adequacy.”

Today, molten salt storage – “solar salts”– is used widely in solar thermal plants in Spain. The solar salts- composed of 60% sodium nitrate (NaNO3) and 40% potassium nitrate (KNO3) - are commonly available materials.
A traditional LPT power tower solar thermal system uses a field of software-controlled mirrors called heliostats to reflect the sun’s energy to a boiler atop a tower to produce high temperature and high pressure steam. The steam is used to turn a conventional steam turbine to produce electricity. In a BrightSource SolarPLUS plant, the steam is directed to a heat exchanger, where molten salts are further heated to a higher temperature, thus efficiently storing the heat energy for future use. Later, when the energy in storage is needed, the heat stored in the molten salts is used to generate steam to run the steam turbine.

Trojan Battery Hosts "Reliability in Focus" Photo Contest

Trojan Battery Company, a manufacturer of deep-cycle batteries, launched the “Reliability in Focus” photo contest to celebrate the company’s history of providing battery backup power solutions for renewable energy applications. The grand prize winner will receive an iPad 2.

“Rapid growth in renewable energy worldwide has triggered an increased demand for battery technology that supports the unique requirements of renewable energy and backup power solutions. Because Trojan batteries have been used in renewable energy systems for many years, we want to celebrate this history by recognizing applications featuring our battery systems,” said Bryan Godber, vice president of renewable energy. “The photo contest is a way for the public to show us, and the world, how Trojan batteries are being used in unique renewable energy applications.”

Submissions for “Reliability in Focus” photo contest must feature the use of Trojan deep-cycle batteries as part of a renewable energy system. The contest will run from today to Oct. 31, 2011. Photos must be submitted online at as JPEG files and be at least 5MB in size. Participants may enter as many times as they wish and there is no purchase is necessary.

Entries will be judged based on originality, creativity, and adherence to the contest theme and include two rounds of judging. During the first round a panel of judges selected by Trojan will determine the 10 finalists based on the contest criteria. The 10 finalist photos will be posted on the Trojan renewable energy Web site where the public will have a chance to vote from Nov. 7 to Dec. 2, 2011 to determine the winner. Click for official contest rules and regulations.