Energy Storage

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.

President Joe Biden’s 'Buy American' policy mandates that half of the batteries for the federal government’s vehicle fleet are made in the US. In contrast, Europe’s has only a 40% local content threshold is for electric vs. petrol-based cars, but this will rise to a comparable 55% by 2027.

Scotland’s Shetland Islands are relying on Wärtsilä to provide grid balancing services and reserve power through an energy storage system. Once operational, the system will deliver 8 MW/6 MWh of electricity and will be managed by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), part of the UK’s largest utility SSE.

US natural gas producers have asked McDermott to carry out a study into how to best expand current liquid hydrogen storage capacity limits. CB&I, part of McDermott, specialises in cryogenic storage and is currently building the world's largest liquid hydrogen sphere for NASA.

AGL Energy, one of Australia’s largest integrated utilities, has selected Wärtsilä as one of two suppliers for energy storage with up to 1,000 MW capacity. AGL is developing grid-scale energy storage installations near to four power stations in New South Wales and one in South Australia.

South Korea’s conglomerate SK Group has decided to invest $1.5 billion in the hydrogen fuel cell provider Plug Power as the two South Korean companies enter a strategic partnership. The aim is to provide full cells, hydrogen fueling stations, and electrolysers to the Korean and broader Asian markets.

Costa Rica’s textile firm Proquinal is producing climate-friendly with a hybrid solar and battery storage system at its San Jose site. The system contains MTU batteries with a storage capacity of 4,275 kWh and an output of 1,500 kVA as well as photovoltaic panels with 255 kWp capacity.

Energy certification body DNV GL has been selected by Gore Street Capital to undertake technical due diligence on an 81 MW operational battery storage portfolio in the UK. Gore Street acquired the portfolio from infrastructure developer Anesco in a deal worth £28.2 million ($37.3 million).

US utility Duke Energy and Siemens Energy will launch the H2-Orange pilot project in March 2021, evaluating the use of hydrogen fuel at Clemson University’s cogeneration plant as well as for energy storage. The research is backed by a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy storage deployments in the United States have risen 240% over the previous high, set last quarter, to 476 MW new capacity. Large-scale utility procurements for solar-paired energy storage will see the US battery market grow from 1.2 GW in 2020 to nearly 7.5 GW (and 26.5 GWh) in 2025.

Japan’s largest power producer JERA is testing the data platform linked to its Battery Energy Storage System’s (BESS) until March 2021. Batteries are mostly installed for back-up energy, so they have surplus capacity at normal times which could be used for peakload-shifting.

Toshiba has developed an aqueous rechargeable lithium-ion battery in a bid to realise the world’s first large-scale battery that can operate at -30°C. The high durability battery has over 2,000 charge- and discharge-cycles and by using water as aqueous electrolyte, it is safe even if exposed to fire.

Energy capacity cost of utility-scale battery storage in the United States has rapidly decreased from $2,152 per kilowatthour (kWh) on average in 2015 to below $625/kWh in 2018, falling further since. Long-duration batteries are cheaper and costs vary by region, coming in at just $947/kWh in Hawaii.

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News in Brief

B&W wins $13m new contracts in North America

Feb 25 – The thermal segment of Babcock & Wilcox has been awarded several energy-related projects in North America, worth approximately $13 million, as the market strengthens and projects continue to restart following delays in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.” We’re seeing customers now moving forward with necessary work that had been previously put on hold. The recent inclement weather also has forced higher loads within the utility sector and we anticipate stronger demand for parts and services going forward,” said B&W Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Morgan.

PIC Group to service 1.1 GW Hummel Power Station

Feb 24 – Atlanta-based PIC Group has been awarded an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) contract for the Hummel Power Station, a 1,124 MW combined-cycle plant operated by LS Power Group. Situated in Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, the CCGT is equipped with three SGT6-5000F gas turbines, one SST6-5000 steam turbine, three SGen6-1000A air-cooled generators and one hydrogen-cooled SGen6-2000H generator.

Duke Energy claims natural gas is cheaper than energy storage

Feb 23 – Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas have both indicated in their latest integrated resource plans (IRPs) they view battery storage as potentially more costly than proven gas-fired generating technology. Market observers noted, however, that Duke’s estimates peg the capital costs of a 50 MW/200 MWh energy storage plant at $347 per kWh —far higher than the cost of units that entered commercial service in 2020, as per Lazard data.

EU emission rules could herald end of combustion engine

Feb 22 – Future EU emission rules for cars could mean the abrupt end of combustion engines and put many jobs at risk, the German engineering federation VDMA has warned in a position paper. The use of efficient combustion engines is “still important” – both for vehicles and small generators –VDMA President Karl Haeusgen stressed, especially since these engines can be operated in a climate-neutral manner with synthetic fuels or hydrogen.

Saudi cement producer renews Wärtsilä O&M deal

Feb 19 – The Saudi Arabian cement producer Umm AlQura Cement has signed a five year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement with Wärtsilä for the customer’s captive power plant in Taif City. The 47 MW plant operates with five Wärtsilä 32TS engines. The initial three year maintenance agreement was signed in 2015, and thereafter renewed once.

Gazprom expands Sakhalin–Vladivostok gas pipeline

Feb 18 – The Russian major Gazprom is expanding the Sakhalin – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok gas trunkline at the section between Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk. More than 315 kilometers, or three quarters of its overall length, has been welded to date. Gazprom’s 2021-2025 investment programme will total RUB 5.49 billion ($70 million) – more than three times he money spent in 2016–2020. Planned projects include 14 inter-settlement gas pipelines, 9.3 kilometers of gas pipeline branches, and six gas distribution stations.

Enstor closes sale of Waha gas storage

Feb 17 – Houston-based Enestor Gas has completed the sale of its Waha Gas Storage assets in northwest Texas to WhiteWater Midstream. Waha Gas Storage assets have the capacity, when fully developed, to store approximately 10 Bcf of natural gas and include six underground caverns and permits for five additional caverns.

Technip Energies listed in Paris

Feb 16 – Today, Technip Energy has been listed at Euronext’s regulated market in Paris. CEO Arnaud Pieton said the company’s mission is to “serve the energy transition” through its leading position in LNG, hydrogen and ethylene. As growth areas, he singled out sustainable chemistry and CO2 management.

US renewable energy share to double by 2050

Feb 15 – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the share of renewables in the U.S. electricity generation mix will increase from 21% in 2020 to 42% in 2050. Wind and solar generation are responsible for most of that growth, while nuclear and coal-fired generation decrease. The share of gas-fired generation will remain stable even though gas prices remain low at an estimated $3.50 per MMBtu, according to EIA projections.

Nikkiso to build electric-mechanical actuators

Feb 12 – The clean energy arm of Nikkiso Cryogenic Industries has bought the intellectual property to manufacture electric-mechanical actuators (EMA) and control panels. Coupled to a cryogenic pump, the system works without gearbox which reduces the size of these vertical pumps frequently used in the oil and gas industry.

Europe’s hydrogen projects outnumber current plants

Feb 11 – The number of hydrogen projects across Europe is almost double that of operational electrolysers as demand for the clean fuel is rising fast. According to research by DLA Piper and inspirata, there are 192 planned or announced hydrogen projects in Europe compared to 107 currently operational ones.

NTE to develop 5 GW clean energy projects

Feb 10 – Florida-based NTE Energy is working with investment partners to develop 1.2 GW of solar and 3.9 GW of battery energy storage systems (BESS) next to thermal power plants. “By co-locating renewable projects with thermal generation, we can offer customers access to affordable solar power options backed up by reliable natural gas,” said Steve Remen, NTE managing director. The company aims to bring 4 GW of its proposed clean energy projects into commercial operation by 2026.

Oil price bounces back

Feb 9 – The price of crude oil has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, after plunging to an all-time low last year. Brent crude oil prices for the front-month April were last seen trading at nearly $61 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark for US oil, has risen above the $58 a barrel mark for the first time in over a year.

Equinor VP named co-chair of OGUK board

Feb 8 – Arne Gürtner, Senior Vice President UK & Ireland Offshore at Equinor has been appointed to co-chair the Oil & Gas UK board, as the sector strive to recover while meeting its net-zero targets for 2021. He will be working with Phil Simons, VP North Sea & Canada, Subsea 7.

Enagás to tap wind power for hydrogen

Feb 5 – The Spanish utilities Enagás and Naturgy are evaluating the potential of producing hydrogen from a 250 MW floating off-shore wind farm and a 100 MW on-shore wind farm in Asturias. The project is hoped to generate more than 1500 jobs during construction and operation, with developers applying for funding under the IPCEI scheme.

Turboden wins contract in the Philippines

Feb 4 – Italy-based Turboden, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has been awarded a contract by the Philippine utility EDC to supply a 20 MW geothermal power plant at Bacon-Manito, on the island of Luzon. The zero-emissions power unit is scheduled to start operations before the end of 2022, and will help lower the local grid’s dependence on fossil energy source.

DNV GL streamlines energy businesses

Feb 3 –Norwegian-German classification society DNV GL has combined its current Oil & Gas and Power & Renewables business. The new ‘Energy Systems’ unit employs over 4,000 experts as of February 1, 2021, providing certification, advisory and digital monitoring services across the entire energy value chain. By combining its expertise, DNV GL said it is “better equipped to support clients in tackling the energy transition.”

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