Energy Storage

By 2024, China’s market for flow vanadium energy storage is likely to exceed $3 billion. The new technology is based on domestic resource and offers virtually unlimited storage capacity, long duration, and rapid response time. A 200MW/800MWh vanadium flow battery is under development in Dalian, with the batteries made in a nearby factory of Rongke Power.

Sempra Energy has sealed a deal to divest its non-utility US natural gas storage facilities for $322 million to an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners. Once the sale is closed in Q1-2019, ArcLight will own 100% of Mississippi Hub and Bay Gas storage facilities.

Nov 28 – Tokyo-based Toshiba will reinforce its green energy footprint by spending 100 billion yen ($175m) on a new biomass power plant near the thermal Mikawa power station in Omuta, Fukuoka prefecture. Going forward, Toshiba aims to aggregate all its renewable energy sources and storage batteries, creating a Virtual Power Plant (VPP).

Energy storage will play a growing role in the British power mix as the Brexit process is at a critical stage and the country seeks to reduce reliance on importing electricity through from mainland Europe. “Interconnectors are direct competitors in the flexibility marketplace,“ Wood Mackenzie said, suggesting Brexit could be good news for the UK storage market.

Nov 21 – Rebuking warnings of gas supply shortages, the UK government said it will not give any regulatory support for new gas storage facilities. Insisting that “the benefits of more insurance are not worthwhile,” energy secretary Greg Clarke said, insisting the market was already providing sufficient gas security and optionality.

Closure of the large Rough storage has left the UK in a “precarious position” and “vulnerable” to gas supply shortages, Wood Mackenzie finds. Spot LNG cargoes can help cover demand at a short notice – but it would be imprudent to rely on flexible gas imports through the Interconnector, particularly as UK gas demand is bound to increase due to the government’s coal phase-out policy.

Dynamics of the global energy transition are driven by the speed of electrification and the competition between flexible gas power plants and renewables plus energy storage. Margins in the downstream power market are becoming more attractive, as price discrimination allows for better value capture downstream than in the generation business.

French utility ENGIE has deployed a 150 kW/90 kWh energy storage system in Rotterdam that is made up entirely by second-hand batteries from Renault electric vehicles. The E-STOR system, developed by Connected Energy, is supporting the Tennet electricity distribution grid.

Striving to roll-out battery storage, Duke Energy has announced to invest $500 million in several projects spread across North and South Carolina over the next 15 years. In total, the storage projects will have a combined capacity of 300 MW.

Risk of gas supply shortages this winter keeps growing in the U.S. because inventories are at record lows due to a late start of the gas storage refill season and high withdrawals. According to EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) gas inventories will reach 3,263 billion cubic feet (Bcf) at the end of October – the lowest end-of-October level since 2005.

UK Power Reserve (UKPR) has awarded the second phase of its battery-based energy storage contracts to Fluence, a Siemens and AES company. The 120-MW project is underpinned by capacity contracts secured in 2016, and UKPR is now tapping Fluence technology to enhance grid flexibility with all new storage projects scheduled to be in operation by winter 2020.

ENGIE and Holyoke Gas & Electric have started operations at a 3 MW/6 MWh power storage system connected to a solar farm near Boston. Massachusetts has been one of the first U.S. states to enact an energy storage target, which helped renewables plus energy storage installations to spread and become increasingly cost competitive with fossil-fuelled power plants.

Wärtsilä has delivered and commissioned its first engine plus storage hybrid installation worldwide for Sinergy Kft, a subsidiary of ALTEO Group, in Budapest. Sinergy’s existing engine-driven plant is now optimized with a power storage solution that also incorporates GEMS, an energy management system from Greensmith Energy.

Researchers at MIT have developed a new type of battery, based on electrodes made of sodium and nickel chloride and using a new type of metal mesh membrane. Costs of the battery are significantly lower than traditional lithium-ion counterparts, researchers say, pointing out the stronger and more flexible material can better withstand the rigors of use in industrial-scale energy storage systems.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has developed an interactive dashboard showing daily and weekly updates on Lower 48 and regional storage activity, as well as market fundamentals that affect underground gas storage activity. Updates are published online and in the Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report (WNGSR).

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News in Brief

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.

MAN, Daewoo, HSD partner on engine digitalization

July 16 – MAN Energy Solutions, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and HSD Engine (HSD) have signed a strategic agreement to cooperate in the field of marine engine systems digitization. The three companies also work together on auxiliary systems and data analysis, aiming to apply part of their know-how to power generation and related sectors.

Canada launches first utility-scale smart microgid

July 15 – The Ontario-based municipal utility North Bay Hydro Services is cooperating with the smart grid solutions firm S&C Electric to launch Canada’s first utility-scale microgrid system. Among some solar power, the 789KW microgrid system will be powered by two 265kW natural gas generators.

Macquarie funds Mexican power plant

July 12 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

B&V launches distributed energy group

July 11 – Black & Veatch has launched a dedicated distributed energy group to place its conventional power business in the context of the global energy transition. The distribute energy group will look into new fuel sources such as hydrogen and aspires to “re-power the more-than-century-old power industry.”

Funding secured for Kazah CHP project

July 10 – Kazinform Erg has committed to spend $500 million on a gas cogeneration station that will provide heat and electricity to the south of Kazakhstan. Over 87% of Kazakhstan’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, and in 2018 the country produced 107,060 billion kWh of electricity, a 3.8% increase over the previous year and enough to cover total power use of 103,228 kWh.

Bitcoin mining uses much energy

July 9 – Estimates of bitcoin’s electricity consumption are wide-ranging, on the order of 20‑80 TWh annually. According to George Kamiya, digital energy analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), bitcoin mining consumed around 45 TWh in 2018 although this has risen significantly this year. Through the first six months of 2019, bitcoin mining has already consumed an estimated 29 TWh.

Coal exit doesn’t impact Germany's supply security

July 8 – Electricity supply security in Germany is set to stay “very high” even as the country begins to phase out coal-fired power generation, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) said in a monitoring report. “Energy supply is adequately ensured”, the ministry said, in all scenarios examined up to 2030. Thereafter, things are less clear but the German Coal Commission is adamant that its proposal to exit coal power by 2038 is feasible and won’t seriously impact reserve margins.

Hydrogen demo plant starts in Adelaide

July 5 – The Australian Gas Networks (AGN), part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), has received A$4.9 million in government funding for an A$11.4m hydrogen electrolyser demonstration project at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide. At the test site, AGN plans to blend 5% renewable hydrogen with natural gas for supply to customers using its existing gas distribution networks. The project is based on a Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser, running based on wind and solar power.

Wärtsilä forms biogas solution

July 4 – Wärtsilä Puregas Solutions, specialists in biogas upgrading technology, has merged with Wärtsilä’s biogas liquefaction team to create a one-stop-shop service for biofuel production. Having installed the world’s largest bioLNG facility in Skogn, Norway, Wärtsilä will deliver two more bio-LNG plants to customers in Scandinavia. The company’s Puregas CA process recovers more than 99.9% of the biomethane present in raw biogas.

PNM to close San Juan Generating Station

July 3 — New Mexico's largest energy holding, PNM Resources, has filed an application to the Public Regulation Commission to close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. For replacement power, PNM said the preferred option was a mix of gas power plants, solar and wind farms and new battery storage facilities. The utility strives to be ‘emissions-free’ by 2040.

ADB opens office in Singapore

July 2 — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to open an office in Singapore. The lean office with twelve staff will focus on the expansion of its private sector operations, e.g. through Public-Private Partnerships. “We estimate that developing Asia will need $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure investments until 2030 to maintain the region’s growth momentum,” commented Singapore’s finance minister Heng Swee Keat.

Testing starts at Haliade-X

July 1 – Technology testing has started at GE’s Haliade-X, the world’s biggest offshore wind turbine. The 12 MW nacelle and 107-metre long blade was shipped to the UK as part of an advanced technology testing program, focused on enhancing the platform before it enters into serial production in 2021.

Tata to build UK’s first CCUS plant

June 28 – Tata Chemicals has announced plans to build the UK’s first industrial-scale Carbon Capture, Usage and Demonstration plant at its Northwich industrial site. The CCUD unit will be built at an estimated cost of£16.7 million and is planned to start operation in 2021. It will make use of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants and turn it into sodium bicarbonate, which can then be sold to pharmaceutical industries.

Gazprom seeks to partner with Fortum

June 27 – The heads of Gazprom and Forum, Alexey Miller and Pekka Lundmark, have met in St. Petersburg to discuss a potential cooperation in the field of power generation. The Finish energy company Fortum owns 29.5% of the Russian power plant TGC-1 as well as a 49.99% share in the German utility Uniper. Through the talks, Gazprom could gain Fortum’s support to expand its firm long-term deliveries of Russian gas to Finland and Germany.