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.
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.
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.