Monday, September 24, 2012

NSF Awards $1.2 million Grant to Clemson Professor for Energy Storage Research

Clemson University physics professor Apparao Rao has received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore the use of carbon nanomaterials for energy storage.
“The global push for alternative and renewable energy sources is creating a need for materials and devices that can store energy for later use,” said Rao.

The Clemson physics professor will lead a team of researchers from Clemson and the University of California-San Diego in developing novel types of electrochemical capacitors with blueprints for their scalability.

Rao is regarded as a leader in developing nanomaterials and discovering how the laws of physics operate in a world of indescribable minuteness. At one-billionth of a meter, these materials have a much greater surface-to-volume ratio than other substances, which can lead to unusual and often very useful properties.

“Our ongoing work with nanomaterials points to advances in the electronics and energy storage industry,” said Rao. “This NSF project for energy storage could have a significant impact on applications ranging from household power tools to energy management and conservation applications.”
This project will build on previous research by Rao and his research associate, professor Ramakrishna Podila, which provided insight on engineering and characterizing defects in carbon nanomaterials, which is central to this project.

The researchers now aim to use carbon nanomaterials with chains of molecules that allow electric current to flow in high-energy storage devices superior to those available today.
“Discovering so many potential applications for nanomaterials makes every day in the lab an adventure,” said co-investigator Mark Roberts, a Clemson professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Apparao Rao, left, and Ramakrishna Podila are researching the use of carbon nanomaterials for energy storage. image by: Clemson University

Thursday, August 2, 2012

ARPA-E Announces 19 New Energy Storage Projects

ARPA-E’s Principal Deputy Director Eric Toone announced funding for 19 new projects that will focus on innovations in battery management and energy storage. The projects seek to advance electric vehicle technologies, help improve the efficiency and reliability of the electrical grid, and provide important energy security benefits to America’s armed forces. 
 The new projects are supported through two new ARPA-E programs: Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). AMPED projects aim to develop advanced sensing and control technologies that could dramatically improve and provide new innovations in safety, performance, and lifetime for grid-scale and vehicle batteries. SBIR projects part of the larger Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program and focus on cutting-edge energy storage developments for stationary power and electric vehicles. 
 ARPA-E Principal Deputy Director Toone announced the new project selections at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s event, New Age of Discovery: Government’s Role in Transformative Innovation, where he spoke alongside former ARPA-E Director Arun Majumdar. To watch a live feed of the announcement and event, visit the ITIF website
 In April, ARPA-E issued approximately $43 million for two new programs to develop next-generation energy storage technologies:
 Advanced Management and Protection of Energy-storage Devices (AMPED)
AMPED will fund research of advanced sensing and control technologies to dramatically improve the safety, performance, and lifetime of energy storage systems. These innovations will enable a new generation of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, and enhance the efficiency and reliability of the U.S. electricity grid. Furthermore, these technologies will also extend the capability of hybrid energy storage modules being developed through a planned joint collaboration by ARPA-E and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The goal of this partnership will be to enable critical Department of Defense war-fighting capabilities pursuant to an existing Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Energy and Defense. Approximately $30 million will be made available for AMPED.
Energy Storage SBIR/STTR
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are competitive U.S. Government funding programs focused on spurring innovation within the domestic small businesses community. ARPA-E recognizes the critical role that small businesses play in developing energy storage technologies and is soliciting small business applicants to effectively move stationary and transportation energy storage technologies towards the market through combined phase projects.

This solicitation focuses on five research areas. The two research areas for stationary energy storage include: (1) low-cost, grid-scale storage, particularly for electric distribution systems supporting high local-penetration of electric vehicles with high-rate charging demands, and (2) low-cost storage for consumer-side of the meter applications. The three research areas for transportation energy storage are: (1) new battery chemistries, (2) new battery architectures, and (3) innovative designs for electric storage systems. Approximately $13 million will be made available for this program.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Energy Storage Projects Up 8% in First Half of 2012

The market for energy storage is dynamic, but still immature.  To date it has been dogged by three criticisms: the market is overstated (projects have been announced but are not online); energy storage is too expensive; and advanced storage technologies are dependent on government support.  Nevertheless, according to a new tracker report from Pike Research, the number of projects deployed on a global basis continues to rise as technologies move at a variety of speeds toward commercialization.  The total number of energy storage projects deployed and announced (including inactive projects) rose 8%, from 600 to 649 during the first half of 2012, the tracker report finds.  The number of deployed projects increased over those 6 months from 482 to 514.

“Considerable momentum is building behind newer energy storage technologies, such as advanced batteries, particularly as the renewable energy community embraces storage as a means of mitigating risks associated with variable power generation resources,” says research analyst Brittany Gibson. “High costs remain a significant hurdle for newer technologies, but market interest is growing rapidly as government-funded programs encourage the deployment of a wide variety of technologies.”

The region with the largest base of energy storage is Asia Pacific, which has just over 60 gigawatts of cumulative installed capacity.  Reflecting the large domestic base of R&D and manufacturing for battery technologies, the technical diversity of energy storage projects in Asia Pacific is quite wide.  While advanced batteries are staged to play a large role in the development of power systems across Asia Pacific, bulk energy storage technologies such as pumped hydro will play an increasingly important role in emerging markets like China.

An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grid Storage Battery Cost to Fall to $500/kWh, Short of Expectations

Lithium-ion and molten-salt battery costs will approach $500/kWh by 2022, reducing the high capital cost of emerging grid storage technologies. However, expectations of half that level will remain unrealistic for at least a decade, according to Lux Research.

Technology developers make bold claims about performance enhancements and economies of scale that will lead to dramatic cost reductions. Lux Research’s baseline scenarios for grid-tied systems indicate that by 2022 Li-ion batteries will reach $506/kWh; sodium nickel chloride, or ZEBRA, batteries will approach $473/kWh; and vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) will hit $783/kWh.

“Molten-salt batteries hold the most potential to be the cheapest large-scale systems, with manufacturing improvements playing the largest role, accounting for 95% of the cost reduction,” said  Brian Warshay, Lux Research Associate and the lead author of the report titled, “Grid Storage Battery Cost Breakdown: Exploring Paths to Accelerate Adoption.” “Li-ion batteries are dependent on cost reductions from mass production,” he added, “while molten-salt batteries and VRFBs rely on long discharge durations to reduce costs.”

To gain an understanding of the key cost components for each technology, Lux Research analysts built production cost models of Li-ion, ZEBRA, and VRFB systems for small- to large-scale grid storage systems, and assessed drivers that will facilitate cost reduction and constraints to innovative material and manufacturing approaches. Among their findings:

·         Cost of Li-Ion batteries will dip 45% by 2022. Li-ion batteries may lose market share to cheaper molten-salt batteries for large projects but will remain the system of choice for space-constrained projects because of their high energy density.

·         ZEBRAs need productivity gains.  ZEBRA battery manufacturing accounts for between 50% and 60% of the total system costs, primarily because of the cost of processing its key raw materials. Improved manufacturing productivity and better capacity utilization will account for 95% of the expected reduction in costs by 2022 to $473/kWh.

·         Vertical integration is key to VRFB costs. Vertical integration and exclusive supply agreements will be key to managing the cost of vanadium pentoxide, a metal with a widely variable historical market price and uncertain future. Future cost estimates for vanadium pentoxide range from $15/kg to $30/kg, from the current $13.20/kg. At the upper end of the range, VRFB cost will actually increase to $1,205/kWh.

The report, titled “Grid Storage Battery Cost Breakdown: Exploring Paths to Accelerate Adoption,” is part of the Lux Research Grid Storage Intelligence service.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Report: Energy Storage Market to Total $1.66bn in 2012

Electricity grids are becoming increasingly unstable due to strong electricity demand growth and increasing penetration of intermittent energy generation sources. In order to manage this, large amounts of inefficient spinning reserves are required to quickly be added to or removed from power supply according to demand patterns. Every grid network must be able to supply peak power, which is only required for a small part of the day, meaning grid networks are somewhat wasteful. Even in more developed economies loss of energy from generation to consumer can easily reach 7%, causing unnecessary extra carbon dioxide emissions and a greater use of costly fossil fuels.
Energy storage technologies can thus provide a number of solutions in both more efficiently controlling the flow of electricity through a grid network and improving the consistency of intermittent generation feed-in. By storing energy when demand is low and releasing it when demand is high, transmission will be smoother and generation capacity can be optimized. However, there are a large number of different applications which energy storage technologies can perform, and a large number of different technologies competing to manage these tasks. The Energy Storage Technologies (EST) Market 2012-2022 looks at the prospects of each of these technologies discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each with detailed forecast for each technology. Visiongain has calculated the global market for energy storage technologies in 2012 will reach $1.66bn.
Visiongain provides global energy storage market forecasts for the period 2012-2022, which is broken down into 7 energy storage technology submarkets. In addition, 11 national energy storage technologies markets are forecast and analyzed over the period 2012-2022, along with countries in the rest of the world. All global national and submarket forecasts are also accompanied by corresponding capacity forecasts for the 2012-2022 period. The report contains 173 tables, charts and graphs that add visual analysis in order to explain developing trends within the energy storage technologies market. Interviews with 3 company experts in the energy storage technology industry are included adding key insight to visiongain’s analysis, as well as profiles of 62 of the leading companies working in the energy storage technologies market.

Intersolar NA to Feature Special Exhibit on Energy Storage

This year, Intersolar North America will feature a new special exhibit that promotes energy storage technologies. The exhibit, called PV Energy World (sounds like the name of a magazine but isn't), located in the Moscone Center, North Hall - Booth 5135, will offer expert presentations on energy storage and grid integration. According to the organizers, "the informative exhibits and display boards will stimulate discussion among visitors."
PV Energy World is supported in part by the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA), an advocacy coalition committed to expanding the role of energy storage to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. CESA counts storage technology manufacturers, renewable energy component manufacturers, developers and system integrators among its members, and this year marks the first time Intersolar will partner with CESA. Additionally, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE joins PV Energy World as a partner. Fraunhofer ISE is one of the world's leading research institutes in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"Energy storage offers the solar industry the opportunity to bring several goals to fruition, including faster grid interconnection, more precise timing of output, fewer curtailment and imbalance penalties, and the potential to secure valuable new revenue from wholesale ancillary services and capacity markets," said Janice Lin, Executive Director of the California Energy Storage Alliance. "Advanced energy storage is poised to have a huge, positive impact on the solar industry in California and beyond, and the storage industry is very excited to see Intersolar North America cover this formative topic in such depth at this year's conference and on the exhibition floor."
Several conference sessions at Intersolar will feature discussions with leaders and technical experts in energy storage, and provide attendees with first-hand information from the energy storage industry to help navigate opportunities in the fast changing marketplace. Speakers will provide an overview of the changing regulatory landscape; highlight new storage technologies; discuss the opportunities smart grid technology offers; and explain how new business models are improving the economics of storage and solar projects.
Presenters on the topic of energy storage include: Janice Lin, California Energy Storage Alliance; Matthias Vetter, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy ISE; Hiroshi Hanafusa, Panasonic; John Wood, Ecoult; Jarl Pedersen, Xtreme Power; Rudy Wodrich, Schneider Electric; Andy Tayler, Energy and Environmental Economics; and Matsukawa Hiroshi, RTS Corporation. 
Information on PV Energy World and Energy Storage/Grid Stability Conference Sessions

Special Exhibit Program: PV Energy World, Moscone Center, North Hall, July 10-12, 10:00am-6:00pm

Conference Session: Smart Grid, InterContinental Hotel, July 9, 9:00am-1:00pm

Conference Session: Energy Storage, InterContinental Hotel, July 9, 2:00pm-6:00pm
Intersolar North America takes place annually in San Francisco's Moscone Center. Since its establishment in 2008, the exhibition and conference have developed into the premier platform for the solar industry in North America. Intersolar North America focuses on photovoltaics and solar thermal technologies and is co-located with SEMICON West. It has quickly established itself among manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and service providers as an international industry meeting point.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Battery Consortium CalCharge Launched in CA

CalCEF, which creates institutions and investment vehicles for the clean energy economy, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) announced a partnership to launch CalCharge, a consortium uniting California's emerging and established battery technology companies with critical academic and government resources. By bringing together the dozens of battery companies and institutions in California working on applications for consumer electronics batteries, electric/hybrid vehicle transportation and the electric grid, Berkeley Lab, CalCEF, along with other Bay Area academic institutions, aim to “create a regional ecosystem for innovation in energy storage that will not only jumpstart a new era of battery technologies but also help ensure that U.S. companies succeed in this highly competitive environment,” according to a press release.
"The next decade will be critical for this industry and this region," said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. "With our highly regarded battery scientists and state-of-the-art equipment at Berkeley Lab, the CalCharge consortium will be able to leverage these resources to enable the development of battery solutions for electric transportation and other clean energy applications in California."
CalCharge is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership working to accelerate the timeline of energy storage commercialization and market adoption through technology assistance, workforce training and market education. Members will have access to Berkeley Lab's world-class scientific facilities and personnel, including testing and diagnostics equipment not available to many startup companies. CalCharge offers a streamlined and more affordable channel for Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and similar arrangements. These allow firms to access technical resources at the Lab, which will help scale battery innovations from the bench to the market.
"To broadly scale renewable energy requires tackling the challenges of energy storage, and no technical community is better suited to those challenges than California's battery engineers and scientists," said Dan Adler, CalCEF's president. "The companies and organizations that make up CalCharge will be central to forging a renewable energy future."
California has emerged as the epicenter of battery innovation in the U.S., with more than 30 startups and large companies concentrated in the Bay Area alone. The state has consistently led battery technology patent registrations, reaching 258 filings from 2008 to 2010--more than the next three leading states combined--according to the 2012 California Green Innovation Index, an annual economic filing published by Next 10. What's more, in 2011 venture capital investment in energy storage grew thirteen-fold over the previous year, making up 11 percent of the total VC investment in clean technology for the state.
"There's a lot of battery know-how in California, specifically the Bay Area, but technology startups need an ecosystem to thrive," said Venkat Srinivasan, head of Berkeley Lab's energy storage research program. "The Berkeley Lab battery program, long known for its deep expertise in solving the problems in advanced batteries, is ideally positioned to work with battery companies in the region. We look forward to building this ecosystem with CalCharge."
A thriving regional ecosystem for battery development requires contributions from diverse partners, including companies involved in advanced battery technology, customers who will use that technology, and research institutions that can offer expertise and equipment to accelerate development of new technology as well as an educated workforce pool--all supported by local governments that will provide the policies and incentives to foster a regional energy storage industry.
"We wanted to start CalCharge because we know that emerging energy storage companies are facing a complex market and major technical challenges," said Doug Davenport, business development lead for energy storage at Berkeley Lab and CalCharge co-lead. "CalCEF is an ideal partner for us because they bring a focus on policy and markets that truly complements our science and technology orientation."
Cheaper and higher-performing batteries are critical to our nation's clean energy future--underscored by the White House's call for decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Nationwide efforts are also underway to modernize our antiquated electric grid for increased renewable energy integration and grid-scale batteries are an essential element. California has also made strides to support battery technology development this year. It adopted the world's first energy efficiency standards for battery chargers and enacted the second round of the Advanced Clean Car Rules, which targets a 34 percent reduction in GHG emissions from 2016 levels by 2025.
CalCEF works to promote the transition to a clean energy economy by creating institutions and investment vehicles that grow markets for clean energy technologies. CalCEF is a non-profit umbrella organization that pursues statewide and national agendas via two affiliated entities governed by separate boards of directors comprised of prominent policy makers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and financial professionals. CalCEF Innovations, a 501(c)(3), leads CalCEF's analysis and product development, designing real-world solutions--market strategies, business models, and public policies--that rapidly advance clean energy adoption. The California Clean Energy Fund, a 501(c) (4), executes and scales the CalCEF investment strategy via a fund-of-funds model, partnering with leading investment managers.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ft. Bliss Microgrid to Employ PPS Energy Storage System

Princeton Power Systems (PPS) announces its Energy Storage System (ESS) will be used as a back-up source and energy resource for a new microgrid system at the U.S. Army's Ft. Bliss in Texas. PPS is the subcontractor to the microgrid system being developed by Lockheed Martin, who is leading the project. The Department of Defense (DoD) Environmental Security Technology Certification Program funded Lockheed Martin's microgrid demonstration and the energy storage technology provided by Princeton Power as part of DoD's Energy Test Bed initiatives on military installations.
The 20-foot containerized ESS provided by PPS consists of one 100kW Grid-tied Inverter (GTIB) and multiple advanced lead-acid batteries, capable of producing 20kWh's of energy. In the event of a power outage, the ESS provides enough energy to power the base, thus allowing it to function as an independent energy resource.
"Integration with energy storage and micro-grid technology is critical for providing security, reliability, and low-cost renewable energy both domestically and abroad," said PPS Applications Engineering Manager Alan Cohen.
In addition to seamless transition during grid failure, the ESS also provides valuable support services, including Power Factor Correction and Area Frequency Regulation services to the local electrical system operator while it is connected to the electric grid. It is the ESS' seamless transition and operational abilities that make it an ideal tool for this project, providing increased reliability and security to Ft. Bliss.
"We are happy to see real steps being taken to implement these policies, and to be part of the team making it happen," says COO Darren Hammell. The Ft. Bliss microgrid installation is being managed by Lockheed Martin, who is the prime contractor on the program.
Princeton Power Systems, founded in 2001, is a manufacturer of advanced power conversion products and alternative energy systems, with patented electronics that provide a more reliable and cost-effective means for converting electric power cleanly and efficiently. The company provides solutions for renewable energy, distributed power generation, and military applications.

Energy Storage Database, Beta Version

A beta version of the online DOE Energy Storage Database has been released for public use, providing free, up-to-date information on grid-connected energy storage projects and relevant state and federal policies.

Projects and policies can be searched based on a number of criteria, including power rating, ownership model, and grid interconnection. The information from the database can be exported to Excel or PDF.

All project and policy information in the database is vetted through third-party verification. The database was developed to contribute to the rapid development and deployment of energy storage technologies.

Sandia Releases Web Tool to Evaluate Energy Storage Options

Sandia National Laboratories and the Department of Energy have released a new tool to help utilities, developers and regulators identify the energy storage options that best meet their needs.
Partnering with DNV KEMA, a global testing and consulting firm, Sandia is releasing Energy Storage Select, or ES-Select, software under a public license to the company. The tool makes it easier to conduct a quick, high-level analysis of energy storage options and determine the value of energy storage technologies for a specified application, which developers say will increase the adoption of energy storage technologies.

“ES-Select is the first of a suite of easily accessible web tools to help potential users and regulators to make decisions on energy storage options in specific applications,” said Imre Gyuk, program manager of DOE’s Energy Storage program.

The application is available for free download on Sandia’s Energy Storage website. “This tool is designed to help users to understand at a basic level what storage can do. If it looks beneficial from a cost standpoint, they can explore the options further,” said Sandia project manager Dhruv Bhatnagar.
Utilities and developers who want to use energy storage have many technologies to consider, including flywheels, compressed air, pumped hydro and thermal storage and six types of electric batteries. All have different costs, and estimating revenue from using various applications is difficult. Researching all relevant cost factors independently could take days or weeks in the past, but ES-Select aggregates all relevant factors into a single decision-support tool that runs in a few minutes. If the results are favorable for a particular technology, users can determine whether to run detailed, site-specific analysis using other tools.

“ES-Select is an educational and decision-support tool for deployment of energy storage on the power grid,” said Ali Nourai, executive consultant for DNV KEMA, and co-developer of ES-Select. “It has been created for public use to promote the understanding of storage technologies and the benefits they offer when applied on the electric grid.”

The tool aids decisions about what storage technologies would work best in a given situation. For example, if a business pays more for electricity during the day than at night, the owner could use the tool to quickly evaluate several energy storage options to determine the cost-benefit of buying lower-cost electricity at night and storing it for use during the day.

Users can input the application they are interested in, as well as such parameters as energy costs and discount rates. The program produces a list of storage technologies and their predicted benefits and associated costs. ES-Select aggregates all of the inputs and assumptions – monetary value for an application, technology costs, performance characteristics and operation and maintenance costs – and quickly spits out  recommended options.

Rather than basing decisions on a single factor such as capital cost, ES-Select assesses how an energy storage technology performs while addressing uncertainties in application value, storage cost, cycle life, efficiency, discharge duration and other parameters.

“With funding from DOE’s Energy Storage Program, Sandia has worked with KEMA to develop a user friendly, freely accessible tool to evaluate potential applications of energy storage,” said Gyuk. “We hope that this tool will contribute to the widespread adoption of storage on the grid.”

ES-Select should benefit utilities, independent power producers, industrial and commercial enterprises, regulators, lawmakers and the public, including those doing research on energy storage. “We’ve already had a lot of people asking about this program, and we know many are anxious to use it,” said Bhatnagar. “I think this will encourage those who might not have considered energy storage before to think more seriously about it and evaluate its potential as a viable option.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Electricity Storage Combats Daily Price Variations

The following was provided by the U.S. Energy Information Association:

map of Flattening the daily load shape, 24-hour period example, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Electricity storage technologies that can operate on timescales such as hours or days are often deployed at specific times of day to take advantage of variations in the price of electricity (see chart above, right). Storage operators can buy electricity when prices are lower (overnight or on weekends), store it, and then discharge or deliver it later, selling the stored electricity when prices are higher (daytime, weekdays). Following a previous article introducing electricity storage technologies and functions, this article focuses on technologies that operate on these longer timescales, or energy management technologies, and their two overarching benefits to the electric power system: flattening the daily load shape (see chart above, left) and integrating variable generation like wind.

The first chart above illustrates the practice behind the concept of "load shifting" or "load leveling." When electric demand is low, operators seek to increase the effective demand by moving power to storage. When demand is high, operators seek to decrease effective demand by using stored energy to generate electricity. Pumped hydroelectric storage is one example of this approach. Overnight, a reversible hydroelectric turbine is powered by low-cost electricity from the grid, using it to pump water "uphill", to a reservoir at a higher elevation. During the daytime peak hours, this water is then released back "downhill" and through the hydroelectric turbine to produce electricity, which is sold to the grid at the higher, on-peak prices.
This load-shifting function has beneficial effects on the electric power system:
    • Lowering the effective peak demand on the system can reduce the requirement for peaking generators, which are particularly expensive to operate. With a lower effective peak demand, operators can defer infrastructure improvements, such as new generators or transmission additions.
    • Using storage to create a higher effective demand overnight allows more facilities to operate as baseload resources, enhancing their operating efficiency. Often, power plants have to lower their output or shut down entirely overnight to avoid oversupplying the grid with power. There can be significant efficiency losses and costs associated with reduced output or temporary shutdown of baseload plants.
map of Flattening the daily load shape, 24-hour period example, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Renewable generators such as wind and solar often have significant variability in their output over the course of the day. Concentrating solar plants can store solar heat in an oil or molten salt, allowing them to continue generating power through cloud passage or after the sun sets. In most locations, wind resources are more available overnight, when demand is low. Storage facilities might store wind-generated electricity overnight, when the wind is most available, and release electricity when demand is higher—time-shifting the supply to meet the demand.

Pumped hydroelectric is the most prevalent energy management storage technology, with 22 gigawatts (GW) of capacity installed in the United States. Other technologies are also in use. Compressed air technology uses low-cost electricity to store pressurized air underground, and then releases that pressure later to support the operation of a combustion turbine. Some batteries, particularly flow batteries (based on liquid rather than solid chemistries), have the characteristics needed for energy management. The Department of Energy's Energy Storage Database currently lists four demonstration-type flow battery-based projects (as of April 2012). Thermal energy storage often takes the form of chilling or heating large amounts of water (or another heat transfer medium) overnight for use during the day.

The value proposition for energy management technologies can often be made based on the opportunity to take advantage of daily price variations. However, available technologies are limited at the utility-scale and costs can be high.
    • Pumped hydroelectric storage facilities have detailed site-specific topography and geology requirements and can be difficult to site. The last pumped hydroelectric facility to come online in the United States was in 2002, with the prior facility built seven years earlier.
    • Compressed-air storage has similar issues, requiring specific underground geologic structures in which to store large amounts of compressed air. There are currently only two compressed-air storage facilities in the world, one in Alabama, built in 1991, and another in Germany; a recent effort to develop a site in Iowa was terminated due to lack of appropriate geology.
    • Battery technology is a dynamic field for research, development, and demonstration. However, due to relatively high costs, batteries have only recently been seen as candidates for most utility-scale applications.

Monday, May 21, 2012

EEStor Progress Report

EEStor Inc. provided an update on the progress of its ultra-capacitor based energy storage technology.

EEStor has been working on the development of single layer Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESUs) as a step toward full commercial units. The single layers are generally around 20 microns in thickness with an area of 0.25 inches square. EEStor has successfully demonstrated a process that yields layers that can handle an operating voltage in excess of 3500 volts, have a dc resistance of greater than 700 terra ohms, and a dissipation factor of 0.005. The process of manufacturing the layers has evolved as EEStor has worked on improving the reliability of the layers. EEStor has recently focused its efforts on elimination of voids within the layers to improve the energy storage capabilities of the EESUs. EEStor has recently made major progress in that it is now successfully producing layers which tests indicate are void free.

The layers now being produced have very small internal self-discharge and crossover losses. These layers have been cycle tested by EEStor and have achieved over 1 million full cycles at a rate of less than 30 seconds per cycle. Each cycle consisted of charging to 3500 volts followed by discharging to zero volts. The EESU layers have better self-discharge characteristics and lower losses in the charge/discharge cycles than other known competitive energy storage technologies. Improvements have been made in the film morphology and fabrication requirements to facilitate the use of automated manufacturing. However, the most recently produced versions of the EESU layers have been tested by EEStor and in EEStor's opinion do not yet achieve the level of permittivity necessary for commercial production. EEStor is now working on improvements in the film morphology which it believes will allow it to significantly increase the permittivity and energy storage capabilities of the layers.

The performance of the EESU layers has not been independently tested. Once EEStor has improved the permittivity of the EESU layers, it will commence third party testing and certification. The third party results will lead to a detailed analysis of the technology's performance. Following independent certification of layers, EEStor intends to build multiple layer EESUs to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology. EEStor has been developing production systems that have a level of automation and throughput capability that EEStor believes can be improved and scaled quickly.

Headquartered in Cedar Park, Texas, EEStor Inc. is dedicated to the design, development, and manufacture of high-density energy storage devices.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Balqon's Battery Storage System Powers Up UCR Building

Balqon Corp., a developer of electric vehicles, drive systems and lithium battery storage devices, announced that on May 5, 2012, a one Megawatt Hour lithium battery storage system installed by Balqon Corporation at the University of California, Riverside ("UCR") went operational, providing electric power to the Bourns College of Engineering building. The one MWh battery storage system installed at UCR is one of the largest battery storage systems installed by Balqon and includes lithium batteries and Balqon's proprietary components, such as Balqon's 160 kilo Watt battery charger, Balqon's 240 kW flux vector inverter, Balqon's battery management system and related power electronics components.

"The six month development period for our battery storage system that is now operational at UCR certainly tested the limits of our inverter and charger technologies. The development period has been an educationally rewarding process for us and has expanded our interest in addressing opportunities in the lithium battery energy storage market.
We are using the technologies developed during the UCR project to address other lithium battery storage opportunities related to cell towers and solar and wind energy systems" said Balwinder Samra, Chief Executive Officer of Balqon Corporation. "The use of battery storage systems for peak-shaving applications, where batteries are charged during off-peak hours and the energy stored during that time is used during peak hours, may be an economically viable solution for large commercial buildings and educational institutions," Samra added.

In January, 2012, the Center for Environmental Research and Technology at the Bourns College of Engineering at UCR received a $2 million award for a two-year project, supported by the South Coast Air Quality Management District ("AQMD") and involving a number of public and private partners, to build solar arrays, advanced battery storage, vehicle charging stations, an electric trolley, and a grid management system to provide clean energy to clean vehicles efficiently. The installation of Balqon's energy storage system is part this larger project at UCR. Reza Abbaschian, dean of the Bourns College of Engineering at UCR, stated that this larger "project will allow us to help the City of Riverside make a huge leap toward in realizing its Green Action Plan." "Our research capabilities, combined with the expertise and resources of our industry and municipal agency partners, promises to provide clean, renewable energy solutions in the years ahead," Abbaschian added. "We're pleased that AQMD recognized the benefits of this project," said Reza Abbaschian. "This is yet another example of our commitment to smart-grid energy solutions that integrate solar energy generation, battery storage, and distribution that are at the core of the mission of CE-CERT and our new Winston Chung Global Energy Center," he added.

The Winston Chung Global Energy Center is a new venture funded by Balqon's Chairman of the Board, Chinese inventor, entrepreneur and Fellow of Bourns College at UCR, Winston Chung. Chung's company, Winston Global Energy, will donate 2-megawatts of rare earth lithium-ion batteries for the project. Balqon, will assist in the conversion of the trolley and in the installation of a additional battery storage, charging and distribution system similar to 1.1-megawatt battery storage system installed by Balqon at the Bourns College of Engineering at UCR.

Friday, April 27, 2012

World's Largest Vanadium Flow Battery Goes Online

The largest flow battery system in the world, capable of storing and delivering grid-scale power instantaneously, received permission to operate from the local utility and will begin full operation in the weeks ahead, announced Prudent Energy, the manufacturer of the VRB Energy Storage System. The project's commissioning marks a significant point in the deployment of large-scale electricity storage systems and will be used to expand onsite power generation at an agricultural processing facility in California owned by Gills Onions.
"This project unleashes the power of energy storage for industrial companies and the grid of the future. It proves that multi-megawatt-hour VRB systems can be delivered today. We expect dramatic benefits for a company like Gills Onions, to help manage their operating costs," said Prudent Energy Senior Vice President Jeff Pierson.

One of the VRB system's benefits is that it allows Gills Onions to reduce utility bills by storing electricity when rates are lowest and delivering that electricity during expensive peak rate periods. Electricity prices increase during high use periods, especially for six hours in the afternoon when the local utility, Southern California Edison, must call on peaking generators to meet demand. That additional cost of electricity production is passed to the customer via Time of Use (TOU) rates.
Although Gills Onions generates a significant portion of its own electricity, it still depends every day on the local utility. Enter Prudent. By charging the VRB-ESS typically at night, then discharging that power during the afternoon peak period, Gills reasoned it can substantially lower its power bill each year.
In 2011, Gills Onions was recognized by McDonald's Corporation on the merits of their sustainability achievements. Proving how important such a commitment is to effective business relations, Gills Onions received McDonald's annual Innovation Award for its waste-to energy project, including Prudent's flow battery, a zero waste initiative, and participation in The Climate Registry.
Gills Onions is a 29-year-old family owned and operated grower and food processor. In concert with sister company Rio Farms, the Gill brothers manage over 17,000 acres of farmland and 300,000 square feet of processing and warehouse facilities.
Prudent Energy Prudent Energy is the designer, manufacturer, and integrator of the revolutionary VRB Energy Storage System. Prudent's VRB-ESS allows utility customers to balance load, bridge generation, and regulate voltage and frequency - all in one low maintenance system. Prudent also delivers onsite VRB systems and services to commercial and industrial companies to reduce their operating expenses and provide backup power. Unlike other advanced energy storage systems, Prudent's VRB is highly scalable, charges and discharges completely without decreasing power capacity, and contains an energy-bearing electrolyte that never wears out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Study Shows Europe's Pumped Storage Potential

A recent study conducted by the Joint Research Commission and University College Cork has produced a new method to identify Europe's potential for pumped hydropower storage, a release says.

The JRC report, titled, "Pumped-hydro Energy Storage: Potential for Transformation from Single Dams", says that pumped storage is the only large-scale option available to accommodate the EU's 2020 renewable energy target.

The study proposes the conversion of conventional reservoirs into pumped-storage systems -- an option JRC says offers "much smaller environmental and social impacts" than new hydropower plants.
The report also includes case studies for Croatia and Turkey. According to the study, Croatia's pumped-storage potential is more than three times its current generation of 20 GWh. Meanwhile, JRC says Turkey could produce as much as 3,800 GWh, although the country currently has no pumped-storage plants.

The report, available here, was recently validated by a panel of more than 30 European hydropower experts, according to JRC.

In other pumped storage news, the New York Power Authority recently approved a US$1.6 million contract to Ferguson Electric of Buffalo to assist in the Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) program at NYPA's Niagara Power Project’s Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant.

This story was reported by Hydroworld, a PennWell publication.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

US, Japan, and China Lead the $113.5 Billion Grid Storage Market in 2017

Despite regulatory uncertainty, a highly-fragmented global market, and a risk-averse client base, the demand for energy storage on the grid will zoom to $113.5 billion in 2017, from a $2.8 billion market in 2012, reaching 185.4 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of capacity from 3.2 GWh, according to a Lux Research report.

Lux Research analysts developed a dynamic Grid Storage Demand Forecaster to evaluate the internal rate of return (IRR) and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of eight grid storage technologies in six applications throughout 44 countries and all 50 US states, identifying unappreciated opportunities. The Demand Forecaster also compares the impact of renewable portfolio standards (RPS), the pay-for-performance ruling, and government subsidies on global demand to identify the technologies, applications, regions, and US states with the most promise for grid storage. Five countries divvy up the top 77% of this market:

Market Share in 2017 (%)
Market Share in 2017 (US$ billion)

"Utilities need to manage an increasingly variable load of intermittent renewable energy sources and commercial customers require more reliable electricity supplies to mitigate outages that cost the United States alone between $80 billion and $188 billion annually," said Brian Warshay, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report titled, “Grid Storage under the Microscope: Using Local Knowledge to Forecast Global Demand.” Conclusions gleaned from the report include:

·         Renewable energy shifting shows greatest potential. The largest application for grid storage will be renewable energy shifting, snatching up to $61 billion, or 54% of the demand, in 2017.
·         The Americas are poised to double its market share. Though Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) hold 88% of the market in 2012, the Americas’ share will more than double from 12% to 25% by 2017, bringing the three global markets closer to parity.

·         Technology diversification is underway. Over the last three years the grid storage market has shifted from one dominated by molten salt batteries to one more diversified, including Li-ion batteries, flywheels, and advanced lead batteries.  

The report, titled “Grid Storage under the Microscope: Using Local Knowledge to Forecast Global Demand,” is part of the Lux Research Smart Grid and Grid Storage Intelligence service. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

NY BEST Bench-to-Prototype Solicitation

This New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Program Opportunity Notice (PON) 2458 seeks proposals to transition new energy storage technologies with proven technical feasibility to a working prototype. Eligible technologies are energy storage technologies that utilize electrical or electrochemical processes and include batteries, ultracapacitors, fuel cells and related components that integrate these technologies into complete systems.

Awards are intended to support technologies at Technology Readiness Level (“TRL”) 3 or above, as defined in this solicitation and proposed work should help transition the technology toward TRL 6 and eventual commercialization.  Three solicitation rounds are scheduled and total available funding is $5,400,000.  All, or none, of the available funds may be awarded in any round.  Maximum project award is $250,000 in NYSERDA funds which must be matched by at least an equal amount through cash and/or in-kind co-funding, so NYSERDA support is no more than 50 percent of the total project cost.

The funding provided through this solicitation resulted from Clean Air Interstate Rule proceeds that were identified to help establish the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology (NY-BEST) ConsortiumTM. NY-BEST was organized to help position New York as a global leader in energy storage technology for transportation, electric grid, and other applications. This solicitation is open to any member of NY-BEST.  Information on becoming a member can be found at     

This announcement is not a solicitation for proposals.  To receive the full solicitation, please visit NYSERDA’s web site at, or submit a request to Roseanne Viscusi by fax at (518) 862-1091, by e-mail at

Monday, April 2, 2012

Axion Power Reports Year-End Results for 2011

Axion Power International, Inc.,the developer of advanced lead-carbon PbC® batteries and energy storage systems, announced results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2011.
Net product sales increased to $7.6 million in 2011 from $1.3 million in 2010. Net product sales increased in 2011 compared to 2010 primarily due to the sale of $ 6.4 million of specialty lead-acid batteries to a single customer who will sell these batteries under their brand, as well as carry the cost of inventory and provide the raw materials for production of these batteries.
Net loss for 2011 was $8.3 million or $0.10 per basic and diluted share compared to $6.8 million or $0.08 per basic and diluted share in 2010. Of the $1.5 million increase in pre-tax net loss, $0.9 million was due to a decrease in income related to accounting for non-cash derivative revaluations; the remainder was due to a $0.6 million increase in our operating loss. On an EBITDA basis, the loss was $6.8 million compared to an EBITDA loss of $6.5 million in 2010.
During 2011 there were important sales of PbC batteries, most notably to Norfolk Southern (NS), one of the nation's largest class-A railroads. The Norfolk Southern batteries were accepted and are being used for large string platform testing for battery-powered locomotives. Axion has had a program with NS since the Fall of 2009 and believes it is one of the very few advanced battery companies in the world that has an initiative designed to provide a major rail company a "clean, green" energy storage solution for their hybrid locomotive initiative.
Also during 2011, Axion Power celebrated its first connection to the huge PJM electric power grid for saving and storing electricity. Axion provided a 0.5MW PowerCube(TM) (shown) that was connected into the PJM network this past December. Initial use of our Cube will be for the frequency regulation market via demand response and curtailment, but the Cube has broad application beyond this use. Subsequent to year end the Company announced a contract for a Zero energy building in the United States Washington Naval Yard. Axion believes the potential for micro-storage applications on the US electric grid is very large and that the opportunity exists on both sides of the meter.
The hybrid vehicle market continues to be a major focus for Axion, and during 2011 studies and demonstrations continued with European and US automakers, primarily in the stop/start application for the micro-hybrid vehicles market. Axion feels that the PbC battery, because of its large charge acceptance and fast recharge capabilities, can offer a low cost solution for operating the ancillary load (i.e. hotel load) in the micro-hybrid platform.
Subsequent to year-end, on February 3, 2012, Axion completed a registered-direct offering of common stock that provided $8.6 million of new financing that will be used for working capital and for general corporate purposes.
Chairman & CEO Thomas Granville commented, "Although the road has been longer than we anticipated, we are finding the market opportunities for our PbC product applications are larger and more diverse than we had initially forecast. The industries we are working with include the U.S. military, the electrical generation industry, vehicle manufacturers and railroads - each of them well known for having long decision cycles and difficult, demanding requirements. So far we have passed all the hurdles and made excellent progress in each of these markets, even as other, more exotic and more highly publicized battery chemistries, and battery companies, have fallen by the wayside.
"We believe that our PbC batteries will be one of the ultimate winners in the contest for new energy storage technologies. Our batteries have unique properties that include a very high rate of charge acceptance and fast recharge capabilities. The PbC batteries are a fraction of the cost of more exotic chemistries. The PbC battery can be manufactured in existing factories in normal manufacturing environments (not clean rooms). They provide superior performance in all weather conditions, unlike competitive products. PbC batteries are completely recyclable and they don't require high-cost, low-availability raw materials.”

Conference Report: Energy Storage

The first “Energy Storage – International Summit for the Storage of Renewable Energies” in Düsseldorf, Germany, attracted 350 participants from 29 countries. The event was organized by Messe Düsseldorf in cooperation with Solarpaxis AG. The two-day conference with an accompanying technical exhibition focused on practical feasibility. In the exhibition part, 20 companies presented their products and services in the field of energy storage technology.

In his key note speech, Norbert Röttgen (shown), German Minister of the Environment, described Energy Storage as a unique, pioneering event. “Exploring storage technologies and bringing them to full maturity for industrial applications is a strategic task which is indispensible if we want our energy transition policy to work,” explained the Minister and added that energy transition is still an extraordinary task which can only be taken on if everyone works together. 

In their opening address, Hans Werner Reinhard, Deputy Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf and Karl-Heinz Remmers, Chairman of the Executive Board of Solarpraxis AG, both referred to the changed standard in energy supply which the development and future wider application of storage technologies will lead to. “In the future, the development of storage technology will have to focus on cutting prices and making technologies more efficient and more widely available,” stated Karl-Heinz Remmers.

The Chairman of the Conference Program Committee, Prof. Dr. Eicke R. Weber, Spokesman of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance and Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, reminded the audience that a lot of “pigeon-hole thinking” is still creating obstacles for the energy transition: “It is important to see the whole picture in order to tackle the challenges of the energy transition.” Prof. Dr. Weber considers the Energy Storage Conference an important step in this direction and that the large number of renowned experts and the excellent presentations contributed to the event’s success: “I have attended a lot of conferences all over the world, but I have never been in a situation like this: Wherever I look I see someone interesting with whom to discuss energy storage. We have all the experts here that we need."

Achim Zerres of the German Federal Network Agency made a connection between the development of storage technologies and other measures taken as part of the energy transition. He also mentioned cross-border exchange of energy, which will increase and be competition for energy storage technologies. The same applies for adapting consumption to power generation. According to Achim Zerres, the expansion of the grid may make storage technologies obsolete but on the other hand the expense of grid expansion may be reduced by employing storage technologies. To achieve this, generation and consumption have to be located close to each other. 

In the session “Scenarios for the energy supply of the future and the role of storage technologies”, Raphael Goldstein of German Trade and Invest GmbH explained that Euro 25 to 50 billion are expected to be invested in the expansion of storage capacities. In 2011, the surplus in electricity production had already led to a demand for 15 GWh of storage capacity.

Thermal storage is indispensible for making renewable energy available for efficient heating and cooling. The last discussion round on the first day of the conference concluded their topic of thermal energy storage in agreement. The panelists underlined that there is not one single technology that can meet all of the requirements - different challenges call for different solutions. They agreed that it is important to start off by determining the purpose of a storage system. There was also a discussion about the pros and cons of cooling and heating technology, latent heat accumulators and thermo-chemical storage. 

Prof. Dr. Olav Hohmeyer, Professor of Energy and Resource Management at the Flensburg University, chaired a discussion about the topic “Large Scale Hydro Storage and European Grid Integration” on the second day. The debate concentrated on Norway, which has 50% of Europe's storage potential due to its large lakes. Norway was presented as Europe’s green battery, boasting a storage capacity of around 84 terrawatt hours and - unlike any other storage technology - with the option of long-term storage. The panelists concluded that thinking only country specific will not lead to the right solutions but that it is instead important to look for overall European solutions.

The final discussion underlined the necessity of putting the energy system as a whole to the test. This should include examining the energy mix of the future and how the expansion of the grid and storage capacity can meet its demands. This is the only way of achieving reasonable, economic and efficient planning. The experts concurred that a mix of storage technologies is needed in order to meet the demands of the future. Within that mix, the largest share will be covered by those storage technologies that improve the quickest, i.e. which are fastest in increasing efficiency whilst lowering prices.

After the promising start, Energy Storage – International Summit for the Storage of Renewable Energies, will again be held next year: on May 18 and 19, 2013 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Li-ion Battery Costs Fall to $397/kWh in 2020: Not Enough for Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles

Early demand for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles has fallen short of optimistic projections, as vehicles like the Chevy Volt have missed sales targets. The key to growing the market is reducing the cost of Li-ion batteries, according to a Lux Research report. While larger-scale production will help reduce costs, the effect of scale-up and likely technology improvements bring nominal battery pack cost only to $397/kWh in 2020 – far short of the $150/kWh target from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) and not enough to reach the mass market.

“Vehicle applications demand a different scale in both size and performance, and no other incumbent technology combines the power and energy performance of Li-ion batteries,” said Kevin See, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Searching for Innovations to Cut Li-ion Battery Costs.”

“Plug-in vehicles’ fates are tied to the cost of Li-ion batteries, so developers need to focus on the innovations that have biggest impact on cost,” he added.

To see what technologies can impact Li-ion battery cost, Lux Research studied the cost structure of Li-ion batteries, and considered the innovations that could drive disruptive decreases in cost necessary to spur growth of the electric vehicle market. Among their conclusions:

·         Materials improvement and scale are insufficient to cut costs. While scale does have a significant impact in driving costs down, it is not likely to lead to a disruptive drop in battery pack costs unless coupled with other innovations.

·         Cathodes remain the biggest target. Cathode capacity and voltage improvement hold much more value than anode innovation. In the optimal case, with a maximum voltage increase of 1V and capacity increase of 200 mAh/g, the nominal pack cost dropped 20%.

·         Beyond Li-ion remains a focus. Technologies such as Li-air, Mg-ion, Li-S and solid-state batteries push past the limitations of Li-ion batteries and achieve higher energy densities and specific energies. Each technology has its supporters – PolyPlus and IBM for Li-air, Toyota for Mg-ion, Sion Power and BASF for Li-S and Sakti3 for solid state batteries — but all face significant obstacles. A clear leading contender that can meet strict requirements on cycle life, power performance, and manufacturability has yet to emerge.

For more information, please click here to register for the complimentary Lux Research webinar, “Materials Innovation and Cost Cutting Strategies for Li-ion Batteries in Transportation,” on April 3rd at 11:00 EDT.

The report titled, “Searching for Innovations to Cut Li-ion Battery Costs,” is part of the Lux Research Electric Vehicles Intelligence service. 

A123 Systems Launches Replacement Program for Potentially Defective Battery Packs and Modules

A123 Systems announced that the company has launched a field campaign to replace battery modules and packs that may contain defective prismatic cells produced at A123's Livonia, Mich. manufacturing facility. A123 has begun building replacement modules and packs and expects to begin shipping them to impacted customers this week. The company anticipates that the cost of replacing the affected customer modules and packs will be approximately $55 million and expects it will be funded over the next several quarters. A123 will host a conference call at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

"Recently, A123 has discovered that some prismatic cells made in our Livonia facility may contain a defect which can result in premature failure of a battery pack or module that includes a defective cell. We have isolated the root cause of the defective cells and we are confident that we have pinpointed the source of the defect and corrected it. As a result of engineering analysis and testing, we believe this is not a safety issue, and we have determined the root cause and have taken corrective actions," said David Vieau, CEO of A123 Systems. "We are working to get replacement packs and modules to impacted customers as quickly as possible. It is important to note that this defect has been discovered only in some prismatic cells manufactured at our Livonia facility. Prismatic cells produced at another A123 facility are not impacted. Further, the cylindrical cells we make at our facilities in China for a number of other transportation programs, as well as the majority of our grid energy storage systems and commercial applications, are also not affected by this defect."

Vieau continued, "In parallel with this field campaign, as we have discussed previously, we continue to implement actions that we believe will improve operations and minimize the possibility of quality issues going forward. This includes hiring a Chief Operating Officer, Ed Kopkowski, who has more than 25 years of global management and operational leadership in improving quality and reducing costs. A123 has produced hundreds of thousands of high-quality prismatic cells at another facility, so while the initial rapid ramp up of our Michigan operations to satisfy customer demand has resulted in near-term operational challenges, we are confident in our ability to overcome these issues. We are devoting our full resources to fixing this situation and moving forward to continue delivering high-quality products to our customers."