Energy Storage

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).

The U.S. Department of Energy’s blue-sky research program APRA-E has handed out $28 million in R&D grants for ten projects aimed at delivering long-duration energy storage systems. The grants are funded by ARPA-E's “Duration Addition to electricitY Storage (DAYS),” targeting the development of applications with 10 to approximately 100 hours of continuous operation.

The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has delivered its first engine plus storage hybrid installation worldwide to Sinergy, part of ALTEO Group, in the Hungarian capital Budapest. The upgraded plant, running on three W34SG engines, was commissioned earlier this week and has a total output of 6 MW / 4 MWh.

Deployment of large-scale battery storage is rapidly increasing across the United States, but capital costs of energy storage systems vary greatly, dependent on the technology uses. Energy-oriented batteries systems, used for peakload shaving, are designed for longer durations and consequently have higher average costs per kilowatt and lower costs per kilowatthour. This type is mostly used in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) area.

Energy SRS and partners have secured £727,000 in funding from Innovate UK to develop phase-2 of a gravitational energy storage. Dubbed GENSSIS, this prototype bundles the knowledge of industry and academia to deliver a gravitational storage prototype, ready for testing in 2019.

India, home to the world's sixth largest solar PV capacity, needs backup to mitigate intermittency risks. Over $200 billion would have to be spent on energy storage, considering the IEA's Technology Roadmap ‘breakthrough scenario’ where capital costs for storage are assumed to be $1 200/kW and $30/kWh in 2050.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co (PG&E), together with Texas-based Vistra Energy, have sought regulatory approval to install a 300-MW/1,200-MWh battery storage facility at Moss Landing in California. The project is part of a wider PG&E venture, comprising four projects with a total capacity of 567.5 MW – all due for commissioning before end-2020.

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News in Brief

Central Hudson links solar farms to VPP

July 9 – Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp has established its distributed generation program within the broader context of New York State’s energy plan. Together with Sensus and their Remote Telemetry Module (RTM-III), the Central Hudson will monitor decentralized solar PV backed up by flexible gas gensets.

Siemens and GREEN Solar turn German town CO2-free

July 8 – GREEN Solar and Siemens Energy are jointly developing a concept for making Herzogenrath CO2-free. The plan is to provide an energy-efficient and economical combination of solar power plants, wind turbines, batteries, CHP and combined cycle power plants, as well as heat and hydrogen storage. The hybrid system will be built on the grounds of Nivelsteiner Sandwerke and will be large enough to cover the city’s entire energy demand with zero CO2 emissions by 2030.

Denmark paves the way for Nord Stream 2

July 7– Denmark on late Monday gave the Nord Stream 2 consortium permission to utilize pipe-laying vessels with anchors in Danish waters, paving the way for the Gazprom-led consortium to complete the interconnector. Construction of the 1,230-kilometre pipeline is nearly complete, except for a final stretch of about 120-kilometers in Danish waters. The project was halted in December when the Swiss-Dutch pipe-laying company Allseas suspended works over threats of U.S. sanctions.

EPRI tests early warning system

July 6– The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is conducting trial tests with multiple utilities across the United States of an early warning system. It can detect an off-gassing event as a precursor to thermal runaway up to 30 minutes prior to a cascading failure. This gives plant operators time to mitigate the problem or shut down the system.

KKR buys stake in First Gen

July 3 – Valorous Asia Holdings, owned by KKR investment funds, has bought a 11.9% stake in First Gen through a voluntary tender offer. First Gen, one of the Philippines’ largest independent power producers with 3,492 MW installed capacity, is owned by First Philippine Holdings which is controlled by the Lopez family. KKR’s acquisition of the First Gen stake is worth nearly $192.3 million.

Gazprom’s ‘BBB’ rating affirmed

July 2 – S&P Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have affirmed Gazprom's long-term credit ratings as part of their annual reviews. The ‘BBB’ ratings for Gazprom from S&P and Fitch are in line with the sovereign credit rating of the Russian Federation, while Moody's ‘Baa2’ rating is a notch higher.

MHIEC to refurbish WtE plant in Kushiro

July 1 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chemical Engineering Co (MHIEC) has received an order from the Kushiro Wide-Area Federation to repair and improve the core equipment at the local Waste-to-Energy plant in Takayama. The WtE plant has a capacity of 240 tonnes per day (tpd). Renovation will increase the energy efficiency of the fluidized bed type gasification and ash melting furnace facility, reducing emissions by around 15% annually. Works are due completed in September 2023.

Nigeria: Only two of six power projects on target

June 30 – Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises has disclosed that only two out of six privatized power plants were delivered on target. Only Transcorp Power Ltd and Geregu Power Ltd out of the six privatised electricity generation companies (GENCOs) were said to have met their performance targets since taking over.

German investors prefer solar over wind

June 29 – Energy infrastructure investors are keen to build solar power projects in Germany, but shun wind parks. In the latest solar power auction, investors offered to build almost 450 MW of capacity – more than four times the 96 MW of volume on offer– with the average successful bid at 5.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (ct/kWh). The wind auction, in contrast, was undersubscribed: The German network agency  (BNetzA) tendered around 826 MW, but successful bids only totalled 464 MW, at an average price of 6.14 ct/KWh.

MAN ventures into synthetic fuels

June 26 – MAN Energy Solutions has entered the hydrogen economy with the recent pro rata acquisition of H-TEC SYSTEMS, an electrolysis tech firm. The German OEM also committed itself to upgrading its gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen by 2030.

Varegro starts using Cummins gas genset

June 25 – Belgian-based horticultural company Varegro, has started to use a Cummins HSK78G gas generator to power its greenhouses in Oostrozebeke, West Flanders. Varegro said it selected the Cummins HSK78G genset to produce combined heat and power (CHP) on its premises at a competitive cost for use in energy-intensive greenhouse facilities.

GE names Deloitte as independent auditor

June 24 – GE’s audit committee has selected Deloitte as the company’s independent auditor for the 2021 fiscal year, replacing KPMG. The selection of Deloitte concludes GE’s latest audit tender process.

Northern German states push for hydrogen pilot cluster

June 23 – Northern German states are pushing for greater hydrogen use with a pilot project cluster. Some 12 large demonstration plants for the production and use of green hydrogen are meant to be realised in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim is to demonstrate how 75% of CO2 emissions can be saved in the region by 2035.

Wärtsilä to design and equip battery-powered ferries

June 22– The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to design and equip two new zero-emissions ferries on behalf of the Norwegian operator Boreal Sjö. For each ferry Wärtsilä will supply the thruster motors, batteries, onboard and shore-based battery charging equipment, the back-up generators, and various electrical systems. The equipment is scheduled for delivery to the yard in early 2021 for the ships to start commercial operations in autumn 2021.

Subsidy cut slashes Chinese wind turbine margins

June 19 – China’s wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could have their gross profit margins halved due to subsidy cuts, Wood Mackenzie forecasts. Commissioned onshore wind power capacity is expected to drop by more than 16% to 19 gigawatts (GW) from 2020 to 2021 as government subsidies were terminated. This could also lead to a 27% drop in turbine prices over the next five years, slashing OEMs’ gross profit margins by half.

PowerPHASE converts gas peakers into storage engine

June 18 – U.S. emergency power provider PowerPHASE has developed an upgrade to convert 7F gas turbine-based peaking plants (350 MW each) to a so-called Storage Engine (400 MW). The unit would be able to store 3500 MWh daily and discharge 4800 MWh daily. CEO Bob Kraft claims utility customers could dispatch the Storage Engine, despite its lower heat rate (4000), ahead of higher heat rate options (9000 for gas peakers) in a competitive market like ERCOT in Texas.

Cummins names Davis head of New Power unit

June 17 – Cummins has appointed Amy Davis as Vice President and President of the company’s New Power Segment, effective July 1. The new unit includes Cummins’ electrified powertrains, battery design and assembly, battery management, fuel cell and hydrogen generation.