Congress Charges Ahead on Energy Storage

The cost of energy storage is plummeting as performance is improving, and Congress is moving to help storage technologies continue to advance. Spurring innovation is far from all we need to do to address the climate crisis facing us, but it’s a necessary component and a start to development of comprehensive solutions.

After years in which many in Congress have done all they can to deny the science of climate change or avoid taking steps to address it, it’s reassuring to see lawmakers of both political parties acknowledging the facts and taking the first steps to grapple with it. Deploying technologies to save the surge in solar power on a sunny afternoon or wind power from a blustery night is one part of making our electric grid cleaner and greener.

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Could high-flying drones power your home one day?

A growing number of companies believe using tethered kites and drones is a viable way to harness the stronger and more consistent high-altitude winds. Could this tech release wind power’s full potential, or will it always remain a niche solution?

Wind power generated five times more electricity in 2018 than in 2008, according to recent figures from the US Energy Information Administration.

Yet it still only accounts for about 4% of the world’s electricity.

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Three Large-Scale Energy Storage Technologies That May Hold the Keys to Unleashing an All-Out Renewable Energy Transition

Pumping and storing water from lower to higher elevations and then releasing it to drive turbine generators is one of the oldest, most efficient and widely used means of generating baseload electricity known. An Australian National University (ANU) research team found no less than 530,000 potential short-term, off-river pumped-hydro energy storage sites worldwide that could be used to support low-cost, renewable energy zones and power grids. “Pumped hydro accounts for 97 percent of energy storage worldwide, has a typical lifetime of 50 years and is the lowest cost large-scale energy-storage technology available,” pointed out Bin Lu, a project team member and PhD candidate at the ANU Research School of Electrical, Energy and Materials Engineering (RSEEME).

Another promising large-scale energy storage technology recently emerged in news reports, one that, akin to pumped hydro, is based on fundamental principles of Newtonian physics taught to undergraduate college students. About an hour’s drive south of Milan, Italy, Energy Vault intends to use cranes to lift 35-metric ton bricks from ground level to build a tower, then release the stored potential energy by lowering them again to drive turbine generators.

In a third instance, Highview Power is out to prove that its liquid air energy storage systems (LAES) can provide gigawatt-hours (GWh) worth of cheap, highly efficient energy storage for five-10 hours per day. “At giga-scale, energy storage resources paired with renewables are equivalent in performance to—and could replace—thermal and nuclear baseload in addition to supporting the electricity transmission and distribution systems while providing additional security of supply,” according to the company.

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‘Leapfrogging’ the grid: Hybrid lithium-flow in action at a remote Thai village microgrid

While energy storage, like the electrification of transport, is often discussed as the ‘Next Big Thing’ for first world economies, this emerging technology is starting to play an important role in developing nations too. Just as mobile telephony revolutionised telecommunications in developing economies during the past two decades by leapfrogging the need for fixed line services, energy storage systems are eliminating the requirement to connect remote communities to a national power grid.

Coupled with renewable energy produced by photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, energy storage systems in remote communities can store that energy until it is required overnight or on a cloudy day. An excellent demonstration of the benefits of energy storage systems in developing nations is Ban Pha Dan, a village in a mountainous region of northern Thailand that has long lacked electricity.

Up until now, people in Ban Pha Dan had to rely on candles and oil lamps for light at night or resort to four-wheel-drives carting in diesel for generators to generate electricity. The lack of electricity also resulted in a lack of road lighting, which made it difficult to travel at night. In a project backed by the Thai Government, Ban Pha Dan is using solar cells to generate power and a high-performance hybrid battery system, including Redflow ZBM2 zinc-bromine flow batteries and lithium batteries, to store and deliver energy for a village that is separated from the national electricity distribution network.

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‘Inflection point’: Global energy storage market set to expand 13-fold by 2024

The global energy storage market is poised to expand 13-fold by 2024, according to the latest analysis from energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, which predicts the sector is well positioned to build on recent rapid growth.

The period 2013 to 2018 saw significant market growth, reflected in a global GWh compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 74 per cent, according to the Global energy storage outlook 2019: 2018 year-in-review and outlook to 2024 report.

But 2018 marked a sharp upturn for an already rapidly expanding market, with 140 per cent year-on-year growth in GWh terms, resulting in a total of 3.3GW/6GWh being deployed globally.

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Report: Electric Cars Already Cheaper To Own In Europe Than Gas/Diesel Cars

The International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) has released a report which says electric cars are already cheaper to own than conventional cars. How do they know that? They tracked four models of the Volkswagen Golf — electric, plug-in hybrid, gasoline, and diesel — in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Norway over four years. They found the electric version of the Golf cost less to own that the other three models, due in large part to a combination of lower taxes, lower fuel costs, and incentives.

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Zinc mine to be converted to compressed air energy storage

Australia’s first energy storage project using compressed air, which will repurpose the Adelaide Angas Zinc Mine, has received $6 million in funding from The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $33.3 million for the South Australian Government.

Hydrostor will construct the 5MW/10MWh fuel-free Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility.

The $30 million commercial demonstration project will use the existing mine to develop a below-ground air-storage cavern that uses an innovative design to achieve emissions free energy storage. The facility will provide synchronous inertia, load shifting, frequency regulation and support for grid security and reliability.

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‘World first’ claim as hydrogen fuel cell EV charger tested

AFC Energy has put the “world’s first electric vehicle charger based on hydrogen fuel-cell technology” through its paces at the survey aerodrome used to film Top Gear.

UK-headquartered AFC said the test demonstrated the technology’s potential to generate 100% clean electricity for future electric vehicle charging.
In a first, the CH2ARGE unit recharged a BMW i8 with power generated by a hydrogen fuel cell.
It took 10 years of research to get to this point. The next step is commercialising the technology.
AFC chief executive Adam Bond said: “By 2030, it is estimated that there could be nine million electric vehicles on the roads of Britain, up from 90,000 today.
“For this transition, we need charging stations to be embedded throughout the country, as well as seeking innovative solutions to overcome the severe limitations of centrally generated electricity.
“By developing and previewing the effectiveness of our CH2ARGE system in the application of EV charging, AFC Energy has shown it is ready to lead the way not only in solving the challenges of increased demand for electricity, but also doing so in a zero emissions approach.”

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Magnesium Batteries: New Discovery

A new version of high-energy magnesium batteries has been discovered by researchers from the University of Houston and the Toyota Research Institute of America, according to The battery operates with limited electrolytes while using an organic electrode, allowing it to store and discharge much more energy than earlier magnesium batteries.

Yan Yao, an ECS member, UH Student Chapter faculty advisor, and an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UH, said the researchers identified chloride—in the commonly used electrolyte—as a contributor to magnesium batteries’ sluggish performance.

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Government rejects calls to pull EV target date forward to 2032

The UK government has rejected recommendations from MPs to bring forward the target date to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the UK to 2032, insisting its original 2040 target strikes the “right balance” between environmental ambitions and what is feasible for the auto market.

In October MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee released a report declaring the 2040 target “vague and unambitious”, instead arguing for a “clear precise target” for ensuring sales of all new cars and vans are zero emission by 2032.

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