One of the key factors that will determine the amount of gas used in power generation over future years is the cost and effectiveness of energy storage. The cheaper the storage, the more intermittent renewables will be able to be introduced to grids, and the less gas that will be required; especially in higher latitudes where solar is not available part of the year.
Oct 5 – Working with the utility Hamburg Energie the Technical University Hamburg Harburg (TUHH), Siemens is developing a thermal storage solution to be paired with wind energy, which it hopes “will set a future standard in efficiency.” Excess wind energy is used to heat rock-fill, protected by an insulated cover – when stored electricity is needed a steam turbine converts the heat energy back to electricity. Tests in spring 2017 will evaluate the energy conversion of a 36 MWh test bed based on a container holding approximately 2,000 cubic meters of rock-fill.
The world’s largest lithium-ion battery power storage – a 20 MW/80 MWh Tesla Powerpack – will be put in place at SoCal Edison’s Mira Loma substation in an effort to better harness renewable energy sources. California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had mandated an accelerated procurement of power storage to counteract energy shortages following the Aliso Canyon gas leak.
Aug 30 – EDF Energy Renewables, the UK renewables arm of the French utility, will install a 49 MW battery power storage at its West Burton CCGT in Nottinghamshire. The final decision was made after EDF won a contract as part of a 200-MW Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender by the UK's National Grid.
A total of eight projects secured contracts in the EFR tender; other winners include Vattenfall, Low Carbon, RES, Element Power, E.on UK and Belectric.
Aug 25 – Southern California Edison has selected a subsidiary of AltaGas to build a 20 MW storage project with a discharge capacity of 80 MWh east of Los Angeles. AltaGas Pomona Energy Storage will build, own and operate the project, which is estimated to cost up to $45 million and is meant to be operational by December. State regulators urge utilities to procure storage to avoid power outages.
Aug 25 – More than 20 days after Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat attended the ‘Sail-away Ceremony’, the gas storage ship destined to support power stations in Malta is still docked in Singapore. No fixed date has been set for its departure – so it is unclear whether will reach Malta as planned in mid-September.
Affordable storage is seen as the missing link between intermittent renewable power and reliable energy supply. McKinsey research anticipates costs could fall to $200 per kWh in 2020 – half of today’s price, which would help transform the energy mix of many nations. By 2025, costs of power storage are expected to fall to $160 kWh or less, making it affordable to use for utilities and grid operators.
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Russia’s Gazprom have agreed to form a joint venture for gas-fired power generation and underground gas storage in China. The MoU was signed on Saturday after detailed discussions on Russian gas supplies via the western route – the so-called ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline is already under construction.
Flexibility of power network hinges on storing excess electricity and demand response to alleviate the impact of intermittent generation. California and Germany used subsidies as a trigger to advance power storage; yet to further commercialise these technologies the industry needs market-based regulation that remunerates flexibility and puts in place a level playing field between different assets.