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.