Energy Storage

Electrification of transport has propelled up demand for batteries, increasing the risk that battery metals – cobalt, lithium, and nickel – will face a supply crunch by the mid-2020s. If automotive manufacturers realize their pledge to “go completely electric” by 2050, demand for battery metals would skyrocket – as would the electricity-use of these vehicles.

British roads will see some 35 million electric vehicles by 2050 which can be used to store excess electricity and enhance the grid flexibility. According to National Grid, these electric vehicles could store roughly one fifth of GB’s solar generation for when this energy is needed.

LEAG, East Germany’s largest lignite miner and electric utility, has embarked on a 53 MW lithium-ion battery project which will be built next to the company’s Schwarze Pumpe lignite power plant. The so-called BigBattery project is supported with 25 million Euros by the state of Brandenburg.

Long duration, grid-scale energy storage will be a game changer, allowing for more renewables integration. The industry is developing new batteries that will extend the current 2 to 4 hours of energy storage to up to 8 hours. These batteries are expected to be ready for use by 2030.

‘Renewables as baseload’ is possible through Wärtsilä’s integrated solar photovolatic (PV) and battery-based energy storage. The adaptable Hybrid Solar solution allows utilities to monitor and optimize solar power output through the GEMS platform, developed by Greensmith Energy.

In a world first, Siemens Gamesa has commissioned an electric thermal energy storage in Hamburg-Altenwerder. The system can store 130 MWh of energy for up to one week – target is storage capacity in the Gigawatt-hour range. Storage helps decouple electricity generation and use, reducing the intermittency challenge of wind and solar power supply.

The 22MW/34.8MWh Cremzow battery energy storage in northeastern Germany has started full commercial operation, underpinned by Wärtsilä's GEMS control platform. Built by Enel, Enertrag and Leclanché at a cost of about 17 million Euros, the storage provides frequency regulation services for the regional power grid.

Australian energy company Santos is about to launch the world's first battery project at its Darwin LNG export plant. It will integrate batteries at the liquefaction facility's integrated gas power unit to ensure they run more effectively and with less emissions. The project is about to enter FEED phase and is due completed in mid-2020.

The battery boom is coming as solar-plus-energy storage prices keep falling, making this hybrid technology preferable over gas peaking power plants on a levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) basis. According to Wood Mackenzie analysis, unsubsidized utility-scale LCOE for a 4-hour lithium-ion solar-plus-storage will be competitive against gas peakers in all the National Electricity Market (NEM) states of Australia in 2023.

Vietnam Electricity (EVN) has awarded GE’s energy consulting arm a contract to carry out a battery storage feasibility study, funded by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). State-owned EVN seeks to deploy energy storage throughout Vietnam to help meet an estimated 8% annual electricity load growth through 2035.

MAN Energy Solutions has received the Storage Highlight award for its new energy management solution, offering scalable and CO2-neutral energy storage and sector coupling. The basic principle of MAN ETES is the reversible conversion of electrical energy into thermal energy via storage in form of hot water and ice.

Norway’s state energy group Statkraft says its new 1GW virtual power plant (VPP) in Britain will help bridge the intermittency challenge and aims to double capacity by the summer. Connecting gas engine-driven power units, energy storage and renewables, the VPP can react to market demand within seconds.

With variable renewables accounting for more than half of global capacity additions to 2040, utilities and power grid operators increasingly turn to energy storage to cover their flexibility requirements. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects the cost for four-hour battery systems will fall to $220 per kWh by 2040, spurring a utility-scale deployment of energy storage of close to 220 GW.

ContourGlobal Bonaire, the Caribbean arm of London-based ContourGlobal, has selected Wärtsilä to build a 6-MW energy storage on the island to accommodate greater supply of intermittent wind and solar energy. Works on the EPC project are underway and are due to be completed in April 2019.

The sunny American Southwest is where gas peaking plants are losing out to solar-plus-storage projects, which pitch for tenders at less than $30/MWh. The cost for installing battery storage, based on a 20 MWh system with 4 hours of storage, plunged 40% over the past year to $357/kWh and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) anticipates another 52% reduction by 2030.

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News in Brief

AI predicts peak in power use

Nov 20 – ABB and Verdigris Technologies have developed machine-learning algorithms to predict unplanned peaks in electricity consumption and help avoid them. The Energy Forecasting app will enable users to reduce their electricity bills by reducing peak demand charges.

India’s first UHVDC link commissioned

Nov 19 – GE Grid Solutions has commissioned Pole-3 - the ultra high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission line in India, capable to transmit 4,500 MW of electricity. Once completed the Champa-Kurukshetra UHVDC project will be expanded to transmit 6,000 MW of electricity at 800 kV, serving customers in the areas of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.

COP25 urged to step up climate efforts

Nov 18 – The COP25 UN climate conference in Madrid is urged to enshrine greater commitments from the world's industrialised nations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. “Europe will have to play a key role in this regard,“ environment minister Svenja Schulze said, adding Germany's recently announced climate package marks a "restart" in the country's climate policy.

Wärtsilä launches ‘Expertise Centre’ in Singapore

Nov 15 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has chosen Singapore as the location for its latest Expertise Centre (EC) that provides operational support and dynamic maintenance planning, both for marine and energy business customers. All of Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres combined currently monitor some 900 installations with more than 2,000 engines around the world.

U.S. storage injection hits record high

Nov 14 – Near-record volumes of natural gas have been placed into storage in the United States in the current injection season. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the amount of gas held in storage in 2019 surged from a relatively low value of 1,155 billion cubic feet (Bcf) at the beginning of April to 3,724 Bcf at the end of October.

SaskPower proceeds with Moose Jaw project

Nov 13 – Canadian utility SaskPower has taken a significant step towards realizing a 350 MW gas power plant at Moose Jaw. The project was first proposed in 2017, but in the Canadian federal government June last year introduced new regulations for gas generation coming online after January 1, 2021, which stalled the plans. Having completed its regulatory review, Sask Power was now granted permission to proceed from the municipality of Moose Jaw. Major Fraser Tolmie said “this $700-million investment into the city of Moose Jaw, will ensure we have base-load power in the province of Saskatchewan and to maintain our power independence.”

Sembcorp powers up first BESS unit in the UK

Nov 12 – Sembcorp Energy UK, part of Singapore-based Sempcorp Group, has started to operate the first 60 MW unit of its battery energy storage system (BESS) fleet, supplied by GE. Combined, the three storage units in Leicestershire and Cheshire will bring Sembcorp Energy UK’s total energy portfolio to 973 MW.

Global gas glut may clear in 2021

Nov 11 – Economics of exporting American liquefied natural gas to Europe no longer add up. With Henry Hub spot prices around $2.7/MMBtu, moving LNG cargoes from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Europe is “not workable,” BP analysts said, indicating that production shut-ins could help clear the massive supply overhang towards the end of 2021.

Gazprom reassures Germany of Ukraine gas transits

Nov 8 – Alexey Miller, chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, has been trying to reassure the German government commissioner Georg Graf Waldersee that Russia was ready to signing a new transit contract with Naftogaz if both companies mutually waive claims. Before gas flows can proceed, however, Ukraine will have to create an independent gas transmission operator by January 1, 2020.

GE makes gains in wind power

Nov 7 – GE Power is gradually turning away from its loss-making fossil power segment to focus on the fast-growing renewable business. This week, GE struck a deal for its new Haliade-X turbines to be used at Dogger Bank Wind Farms. The three 1.2 GW Dogger Bank projects, situated offshore the UK’s Yorkshire coast, are expected to trigger approximately £9 billion of capital investment between 2020 and 2026.

PetroVietnam eyes LNG-to-Power project

Nov 6 – PetroVietnam has signed an agreement with B.Grimm Power Public Company (BGRIM) to jointly study the development of an integrated LNG import and power generation project. The aim is to build a 3,000 MW gas-fuelled power plant and an adjacent LNG import terminal. The location of the project has not been disclosed.

ABB launches ‘Smart City’

Nov 5 – Electrification specialists of the Swiss manufacturer ABB have designed an interactive ‘Smart City’ that contains smart buildings, e-mobility, energy management and data centers. The use of smart technologies and digitalization are encouraged by the United Nations as a way to help decarbonize cities around the world.

Gazprom, BASF cooperate on sulfur separation

Nov 4 – The Russian major Gazprom and the German chemical company BASF have agreed to devise a comprehensive solution for separation of sulfur from natural gas. The aim is to  enhance eco-efficiency of the Astrakhan gas processing plant and improve operational efficiency of BASF’s amine gas treatment units at the Orenburg gas-fired power plant.

Germany’s emission fall ‘markedly’

Nov 1 – Germany is headed for second consecutive year of substantial reductions in carbon emissions, amid a sharp drop in coal-burn in the power sector and an overall decline in energy use in 2019. If this trend continues, the country could get much closer to its 2020 climate target than widely anticipated.

Exmar to refinance Tango FLNG

Oct 31 – Exmar, the Belgian shipping company, is trying to refinance the Tango FLNG vessel, moored offshore Argentina on behalf of YPF. The aim is to generate around $60 million in additional capital, Exmar said, suggesting a deal will likely be struck in the first months of 2020.

Petronet doubles net profit

Oct 30 – Indian LNG importer Petronet has nearly doubled its net profits in the third quarter although revenues fell by 13%. Net profits came in at 1,089 crore rupees ($153.6m), an increase of 90% on the same period in 2018 as the company benefited from India’s lower corporate tax rates. Third-quarter revenues, in contrast, fell to 9,449 crore rupees ($1.33 billion).

Wildfires spread around LA

Oct 29 – Thousands of Los Angeles residents have been evacuated as wildfires spread fast around the metropolis and power outages brought life close to a standstill. The risk of fires caused by overland transmission lines prompted Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to prolong precautionary blackouts that could last up to three days.