California-based Bloom Energy, together with its Korean partner SK Engineering & Construction, has deployed 100 kilowatts of solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC) powered solely by hydrogen for a pilot plant in the city of Ulsan. Bloom entered the hydrogen market in July 2020, which includes a 1 MW hydrogen-fuelled Energy Server with SK E&C due operational in 2022.
South Australia has the wind and sunshine to evolve into a prime hydrogen supplier. According to Cornwall Insight, a hydrogen plant could make a profit of a $2.3 million this summer, assuming 20% utilisation and quarterly repayment on the $593 million of government debt with interest, operating costs, and net cost of energy.
Carmakers in Germany cash in on the global shift to e-mobility. Though the production of battery cells is dominated by businesses in South Korea, Japan and China, German companies have caught up and reached a leading position on technologies like cell chemistry, cooling and control systems for car batteries and energy storage.
RWE Renewables has contracted Wärtsilä to supply a 40-MW/80-MWh DC-coupled solar plus storage system to the Hickory Park Solar project in Georgia, US. The hybrid system will enable RWE to steadily dispatch and sell 200 MW of electricity from the solar PV units to Georgia Power Company, the local utility.
Schlumberger New Energy, the energy transition unit of the US oilfield service giant, is developing a lithium extraction pilot plant in response to growing demand for utility-scale battery storage in the transport and power sector. To be built through NeoLith Energy in Clayton Valley, Nevada, the pilot plant is due operational before the end of 2021.
Two smart charging technologies – Vehicle to Grid (V2G) and Vehicle to Building (V2B) – have been launched by Virta and Marubeni in the UK. With V2G, the charged electricity from a car battery can be pushed back into the grid, giving National Grid a tool for on-demand power supply to balance rising volumes of intermittent renewable energy.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plans a $75 million R&D center on long-duration, low-cost energy storage. To be built Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington, the Grid Storage Launchpad will consist of 30 laboratories, assessing battery prototypes and new storage technologies under ‘real world’ operating conditions.
Therma Marine Inc. (TMI), part of the Philippine energy company Aboitiz Power, has ordered a barge-mounted 54 MW/32 MWh energy storage system to be delivered by Wärtsilä on an EPC basis. The barge will be placed next to TMI’s existing 100 MW thermal power barge in the municipality of Maco, with delivery due in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Marubeni Corp has invested an undisclosed amount in Skeleton Technologies Group, an Estonian developer of ultracapacitators for energy storage. The move is in line with Japan’s 2050 net zero emissions by target, whereby energy storage will be used to power electric vehicles and stabilize the grid when linked up with hydrogen-based generators or fuel cells.
Lithium-ion based batteries are still dominating the stationary energy storage sector but a rising number of companies try to develop different technology types. Among the Li-ion batteries competitors, the Redox Flow Battery (RFB) system – based on flowing two liquids as electrolytes across the electrode – is seen as an attractive approach.
Unlike rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, flow batteries use large tanks of liquid to store energy which has made the technology “prohibitively expensive” because it relies on pricey electroactive metal salts. Researchers at the MIT are working on alternative approaches that use less expensive electroactive materials derived from organic compounds.
Technical advances in energy storage metrics accelerate the attractiveness and roll-out of battery storage to balance rising volumes of intermittent renewable energy supply to the grid. In the United States, the utility-scale battery fleet is operating with an average monthly round-trip efficiency of 82% – more than the 72% efficiency of pumped-storage.