Michael Kanellos for Forbes: The Department of Energy doled out $18 million in grants this week as part of an effort to drive down the cost of solar plus storage down to less than 14 cents a kilowatt hour. The DOE, under its SunShot program, has long had a goal of driving down the cost of solar alone to 6 cents per kWh by 2020. So far, the program has hit its milestones.
Grants recipients include Austin Energy, Carnegie Mellon University, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Aquion Energy, among others.
The DOE regularly gives out grants, but the latest program is somewhat interesting because:
First, that’s a really low price for storage. Utility-scale solar, generally cheaper than residential solar, without storage delivered power for 14 cents a kilowatt hour in 2014. The cost of batteries, however, has been declining rapidly. Ten years ago, batteries progressed slowly compared to other electronic devices: Tesla Motors TSLA +0.50% co-founder and CTO J.B. Straubel was famous for noting that the performance of batteries doubled every decade, versus the roughly two year cycle for semiconductor. Cont'd...
Tom Lombardo for Enegineering.com: Grid-level energy storage takes many forms, including flow batteries, Li-ion batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air in underground caverns, and even flywheels. Toronto’s Hydrostor just added another tool to the arsenal: underwater compressed air energy storage (UCAES). Hydrostor recently activated a pilot UCAES plant - the first of its kind - that will provide grid-level storage for the city of Toronto. In addition to supplying the city with cost-effective energy storage, the system will allow engineers to study its behavior and optimize the design. Can UCAES become a viable energy storage technology?
The idea has been around for many years: when supply exceeds demand, use the excess energy to run an air compressor and store the air in an underwater balloon. When power is needed, open a valve and let the compressed air run a turbine to generate electricity. The principle is simple, but the economic feasibility has yet to be demonstrated. Hydrostor hopes that their facility becomes the proving ground. Cont'd...
From EnergyDigital: Tidal power, a sister resource to wind, takes advantage of the predictability of the ocean tides to generate electricity, either via estuary barges or directly from the currents themselves via tidal streams. According to the Ocean Energy Council, the ideal area to net the most potential power is an area with a tidal range of at least seven meters. Energy can be generated via floating devices that drive hydraulic pumps, oscillating water columns within cylindrical shafts to create air movement, or hydropower turbines.
The Pacific Northwest coast of the United States is an excellent location for tidal power, given its broad range of tide movement. According to Renewable Northwest, some areas of potential development include:
• Makah Bay, Washington (by AquaEnergy Group)
• Newport, Oregon (by Oregon State University / Oregon Department of Energy)
• Tacoma Narrows (by Tacoma Power)
• Puget Sound (by Snohomish County Public Utility District)
The following sites are under development in Wales due to their wide tidal height variation and economically receptive marketplace:
• Swansea Bay (by Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay)
• St. Asaph (by North Wales Tidal Energy & Costal Protection)
As a whole, the UK has the potential for over 11,000 MW, a staggering amount given the relatively small landmass of the country. This makes it the single largest source of hydrokinetic power in Europe, enough theoretically support 10 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Cont'd...
By Daniel J. Graeber for UPI.com: Small-scale solar installations in the United States account for about a third of the overall capacity on the grid, a report from the federal government said.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates total U.S. solar-power output in September, the last full month for which data are available, at 3.5 million megawatt hours. Of that, just more than 30 percent came from small-scale solar installations.
"Generation from roof-top photovoltaic systems has become an increasingly important part of total solar generation in the United States," EIA AdministratorAdam Sieminski said in an emailed statement.
A September report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, with support from green energy market adviser GTM Research, found second quarter residential solar capacity grew 70 percent year-on-year to 473 megawatts. Cont'd...
Reporting by Vera Eckert for Reuters: German battery maker Sonnenbatterie has launched a scheme to connect households with solar panels and other consumers, aiming to better distribute surpluses of the renewable energy and help members to become more independent of conventional suppliers.
The start-up company hopes the scheme, called "sonnenCommunity", will boost demand for its batteries which store solar power, allowing owners to use the clean energy even when weather conditions are not favourable.
SonnenCommunity takes the storage idea a step further, allowing solar power to be shared among its members.
Sonnenbatterie said the scheme would initially target the 1.5 million solar power producers who, if they sign up to the community, will receive a battery storage system with a starting price of 3,599 euros ($3,812). But eventually, the offer will also be open to non-producers, it added.
If the idea of battery-powered buildings takes off, it could pose a challenge to traditional utilities such as RWE and E.ON, which still derive the bulk of their power from big centralised power stations running on fossil fuels. Full Article:
By Michael McDonald for OilPrice.com: Ever since Tesla announced its PowerWall battery project earlier this year, interest in stationary storage and battery technology in general has been explosive. Now, Mercedes Benz has put together an interesting project built around recycled batteries that might help drive even more interest in grid scale utility storage and help to blend the consumer and commercial markets for batteries.
Under Mercedes’ new project, a consortium of companies is going to create the world’s largest grid storage facility using used batteries in Lunen, Germany. The project will have the capacity to store 13 megawatts of power (enough to meet the demand of 130,000 homes) based on reusing automotive batteries. The basic premise is that when the battery from an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid vehicle is no longer reliable enough to start a car, it still has up to 80% of its original storage capacity remaining. As a result, a large series of these batteries can be connected to store energy from renewable sources like solar and wind power. Cont'd...
Dario Balca , CTV Toronto: Toronto Hydro has announced it will launch the world’s first-ever underwater energy storage system in Lake Ontario.
The utility has partnered with Hydrostor Inc., a company that specializes in innovative energy storage systems, for a two-year-pilot project intended to create a backup for the city’s electricity grid big enough to power approximately 350 homes.
"We're very excited to see this new technology in action,” said Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines. “Toronto Hydro has been very busy exploring new ways to power our grid, and I think this is the most creative project we've been involved in so far. Supporting innovative solutions for Toronto's power needs will continue to be a focus for our organization."
The system works by taking electrical energy and converting it into compressed air so that it can be stored under water in large, balloon-like structures.
The storage facility will be located three kilometres off the southern tip of the Toronto Island and 55 metres under water.
When the city’s electricity grid needs power, crews will open a valve that lets the pressurized air out. The air is then converted back into electricity and fed into the grid. Cont'd...
GREG KEENAN - The Globe and Mail: Ryerson University in Toronto and a high-tech startup company called eCamion Inc. will unveil a pilot project Wednesday that allows energy to be stored in a unit that sits on hydro poles.
An eCamion storage unit combined with a smart controller developed by Ryerson researchers and students will enable utilities such as Toronto Hydro to store power, integrate more renewable power and improve the reliability of the system, the company and Ryerson say.
The unit uses lithium-ion batteries that charge during off-peak hours of hydro usage and discharge during peak hours.
One of the benefits if the storage devices win widespread adoption is better availability of power for recharging electric vehicles, said Hari Subramanian, eCamion’s chief executive officer.
“These are the enabling technologies you need for electric vehicles to really have an uptake,” Mr. Subramanian said.
In many areas, the current hydro infrastructure could not handle the demand if several electric vehicles in a small section of a city were being recharged at the same time, he said.
The storage device allows utilities to “flex their grid” to meet varying demands at various times, he said. Cont'd...
William Pentland, Contributor for Forbes: In Chile’s most recent power auction, the bids from solar project developers came in at between $65 and $68 per megawatt hour (MWh) were considerably more competitive than bids made by coal plants, which were priced at $85 per MWh. Solar power projects were awarded the lion’s share of the 1,200 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity contracts sold.
Chile boasts one of the world’s biggest solar resources. High electricity prices and strong demand from Chile’s mining industry have driven demand growth for solar, especially large scale commercial or utility projects.
The total installed solar capacity in Chile increased from less than 4 MW in 2013 to more than 220 MW last year. Nearly 1 GW of solar is projected to be installed in Chile in 2015. Meanwhile, a total of about 8 GW of solar power projects have been approved for development in Chile. First Solar and SunEdison are two of the biggest U.S. solar companies active in Chile. Cont'd...
By Kelly Hodgkins for Digital Trends: Danish state-owned company Dong Energy A/S plans to set a new world record for the world’s largest offshore wind farm, breaking the existing record currently held by the 630-megawatt London Array, another facility built by Dong. The new U.K. wind farm will be located in the Irish Sea, about 12 miles off the west coast of Great Britain. When commissioned, it will provide enough energy to power almost a half million homes.
It’s no surprise that Dong is behind this effort, as it is Denmark’s largest energy company and the world’s largest developer of offshore wind power. The company has a longstanding relationship with the UK, constructing and, in some cases, operating multiple offshore wind facilities, including those in Barrow, Burbo Bank, and Walney Island. Between these projects and others in Germany, Dong now has a total of 5.1 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity. It aims to expand this capacity even further with a projected goal of 6.5 gigawatts of offshore wind energy production by 2020. Cont'd...
Cole Mellino for EcoWatch: Morocco imports 97 percent of its energy, and yet it has one of the highest rates of solarinsolation of any country—about 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, according to the Solar GCC Alliance. To put that in perspective, the Guinness Book of World Records puts Yuma, Arizona as the sunniest place on Earth with an average of 4,055 hours of sunshine per year (the theoretical maximum is 4,456), whereas the sunniest place in Germany, which still has a robust solar industry, gets a mere 1,800 sunshine hours a year. So it’s no surprise that Morocco is tapping into its abundant sunshine for energy.
Morocco is building “a complex of four linked solar mega-plants that, alongside hydro andwind, will help provide nearly half of Morocco’s electricity from renewables by 2020,” reports The Guardian. When the entire project is finished, it will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. The first phase, Noor 1, will go live next month. Cont'd...
Ken Silverstein for Forbes: The fall season is kicking off a sizzling solar power debate in California and one that has the potential to undercut the state’s climate mission.
Utility regulators there are in discussions over how to balance the interest of rooftop solar generators with the utilities on which they will still depend. Just how those hearings are resolved with have implications for the rollout of renewable energy not just in California but also around the country.
At issue is something called “net metering,” which is technical term used to measure the amount of money that rooftop solar generators should get paid relative to retail electricity prices. Utilities, generally, want to offer them the wholesale rate for what they send to them over the grid. Those are expensive wires to maintain and ones that all customers will use, even those who power their homes with solar panels. That’s because the sun is not always shining and the utilities would then have to provide them electricity over their networks.
The present net metering rules in California were set a dozen years ago, with the intent that they would expire when solar penetration reached 5 percent at any of three investor-owned utilities: Edison International’s SoCalEd, PG&E Corp. and Sempra Energy, which is nearing the threshold. Generally, those utilities are paying customers the full retail value for their electricity generated and transmitted. Cont'd...
Megan Treacy for TreeHugger: A new technology developed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln electrical engineering doctoral student Jie Cheng solves both of those problems by harnessing the excess wind energy usually wasted as spillage and storing it for use when wind speeds dip, making wind turbines more efficient and consistent.
Cheng's system converts and directs the extra wind energy to an air compression tank, where the energy is stored until wind speeds dip below the maximum capacity. Using a rotary vane machine that is connected between the turbine's gearbox and generator, excess energy is diverted and stored in the air compression tank. When the wind dies down, the tank then kicks in and reverses airflow back to the rotary vane machine to generate electricity.
In a recent study of his prototype, Cheng found that a 250-kW system would produce an additional 3,830 kWh of electricity per week or an additional 16,400 kWh per month based on historical wind data from Springview, Nebraska. That extra electricity is about 18 times the monthly energy use of a typical American household. Cont'd...
By Timothy Cama for The Hill: The Obama administration announced Wednesday morning a series of efforts worth more than $120 million aimed at boosting solar and other clean energy sources.
The initiatives focus on the Department of Energy, where the bulk of the funding will go to programs to develop solar power technology and get it into homes, businesses and other facilities.
“President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to promoting smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help America transition to cleaner and more distributed energy sources, help households save on their energy bills, and to address climate change,” the White House said in a fact sheet outlining the efforts.
“All told, this funding will drive the development of affordable clean energy throughout the country,” it said.
The actions aim to help out solar power in 24 states, officials said. Cont'd...
This years show will place September 14 -17 in Anaheim, CA. Over 15,000 + visitors are expected in attendance to learn about the latest technology innovations, financing models, business best practices and policy and incentive programs that are contributing to the growth of the solar industry. With over 600 exhibitors from 75 countries on display showcasing the entire system of solar technology and advances in solar cell and module technology, balance of system components, solar heating and cooling and energy storage.
Check out Solar Power International Newspage for all the News and Announcements from this years show. Also stay tuned for our SPI Tradeshow Report.
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