Posted Mar 20, 2014, 6:01 PM
constructum omnia ubique
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: lodged against an abutment
Super-bright solar power plant blinding pilots around midday
Plant could be a hazard, but Aviation Safety Reporting System has delayed action.
by Megan Geuss - Mar 19 2014, 2:50pm PST
Out in the California desert, just 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has been harnessing the power of the sun—a little too effectively. In August 2013, a number of pilots flying over the solar plant, which counts Google as one of its investors and sits on approximately 3,500 acres of federal land in the Mojave Desert, reported that the glare coming off the plant's equipment is blinding to the point of being a serious hazard.
“The copilot and I were distracted and momentarily blinded by the sun reflecting off of mirrors at the solar power plant facility located near the CA-NV border near the town of Primm,” one pilot, who was flying a small transport plane out of Boulder City, Nevada, recounted to the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). “At its brightest, neither the pilot nor copilot could look in that direction due to the intense brightness. From the pilot’s seat of my aircraft, the brightness was like looking into the sun, and it filled about 1/3 of the copilot's front windshield. In my opinion the reflection from these mirrors was a hazard to flight because for a brief time I could not scan the sky in that direction to look for other aircraft.”
The glare, it seems, was coming from light reflected by the solar plant's heliostats, which are 78-square-foot mirrors specially designed by solar company BrightSource to reflect the sun's rays onto one of three 459-foot-high boiler towers. The heat from all that concentrated light boils the water within, generating 377 megawatts of electricity, which is then sold to PG&E and Southern California Edison. The heat that the reflected light creates is intense—it has even been known to scorch birds that fly through. (Although the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System keeps close track of these incidents—a February compliance report suggested that approximately five birds were killed by the plant's heat that month.)
First Solar Seeks More Rooftops as Utility Plants Shrink
By Christopher Martin Mar 20, 2014 6:43 AM PT
First Solar Inc. (FSLR), the largest U.S. solar-panel maker, is boosting its efforts to install systems at industrial sites and warehouses as utilities demand smaller solar farms.
Pursuing smaller projects and customer-sited systems may increase sales as much as 36 percent over the next three years, Chief Executive Officer Jim Hughes said at an analyst event in New York yesterday.
The company got 65 percent of its 2013 sales from selling large solar farms to utilities, a market that’s slowing in the U.S. as power companies meet state requirements and don’t need to buy more solar energy. Hughes is seeking deals in other regions including Saudi Arabia, India and South America, and also expects higher demand in the U.S. from commercial and industrial rooftops.
“We’re more confident than ever that we can compete for rooftops,” Hughes said in an interview after the event. “Quite possibly it will be our biggest growth segment, but we’re starting from a small base.”
The company, based in Tempe, Arizona, forecast earnings will increase to $4.50 to $6 a share in 2015 from $2.20 to $2.60 this year.
First Solar is competing for 15 commercial projects totaling 45 megawatts, and is “shortlisted” for 15 megawatts of those, according to Chief Operating Officer Georges Antoun.
“It’s about 45 percent of the market so we have to pay attention to it,” Antoun said at the analyst meeting. “We can get back into it and become a major player.”
How solar energy empowers women, youth in rural Nicaragua
Sabana Grande, a small northern Nicaraguan town has leveraged solar power to transform a community once ravaged by war, Guevara-Stone writes.
By Laurie Guevara-Stone, Guest blogger / March 20, 2014
Forty years ago Sabana Grande, a small community in northern Nicaragua, was ravaged by war. Now you will find people sitting under solar-powered lights, eating solar-cooked chicken, and drinking smoothies made by a bicycle-powered blender. Sabana Grande (pop. 2,000), in the mountains of Totogalpa, about 20 miles from the Honduran border, has embraced a solar culture that has transformed the community.
Turning landmine survivors into solar technicians
The war between the government Sandinistas and the Contra rebels left hundreds of people disabled by landmines, especially in the northern part of the country. In 1999 a Nicaraguan non-governmental organization called Grupo Fenix received a grant from the Canadian Falls Brook Center to reintegrate landmine survivors back into society. The NGO decided it would teach the landmine survivors how to make solar panels, providing them with both a livelihood and a way to get electricity in a poor, off-grid region. It focused on Sabana Grande, an agricultural community in one of the poorest regions in one of the poorest departments of Nicaragua.
Grupo Fenix, founded by engineering professor Susan Kinne of the Engineering University of Nicaragua and made up of many of her engineering students, taught the villagers how to solder together discarded solar cells they received from some large PV manufacturers to make solar PV panels, up to 60 watts in size. They also held classes on installing and maintaining off-grid solar PV systems. The Sabana Grande solar workshop was born, and soon a few of the trained farmers-turned-technicians started selling small solar home lighting systems to people in the community and throughout the region.
Marco Antonio Perez is one of the landmine survivors trained by Grupo Fenix. “One gets a complex, and believes that their life is over,” he said. “To reintegrate into society, to feel useful again, took five years.” After being training in photovoltaics, he directed the Sabana Grande solar workshop for years, and now runs a solar company in a nearby town. Despite his lack of a formal education, having only graduated from the 6th grade, he has traveled to Haiti and Costa Rica to teach people how to construct solar panels, and is a co-author of a paper on an encapsulation method he helped develop in Elsevier’s journal Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.
Women's empowerment through solar energy
The engineering students also brought along some solar cookers, and showed them to the women in the community. The women were intrigued—in Nicaragua approximately 90 percent of the rural population cooks over open fires, and respiratory diseases are the leading cause of death for women. Soon the women were learning how to build their own solar cookers and using them to cook for their families, greatly reducing their firewood consumption and smoke exposure. The women were hooked, and organized themselves into an organization called Las Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa—the Solar Women of Totogalpa, which officially became a cooperative in 2010. In early years of the group’s work they had been constructing solar cookers based out of different members’ homes. In 2005 they decided they needed a place of their own.
RMI: Here's how the economics of grid defection will pay off
By Jon Creyts and James Newcomb
Published March 20, 2014
The speed of disruptive innovation in the electricity sector has been outpacing regulatory and utility business model reform, which is why they now sometimes feel in conflict. That disruptive innovation is only accelerating.
Our recent report, "The Economics of Grid Defection: When and where distributed solar generation plus storage competes with traditional utility service," sets a timeline for utilities, regulators and others to get ahead of the curve and shift from reactive to proactive approaches. Becoming proactive and deliberate about the electricity system's transformation, and doing so ahead of any fundamental shifts in customer economics, would enable us to optimize the grid and make distributed technologies the integral and valuable piece we believe they can and should be.
When we at the Rocky Mountain Institute issued "The Economics of Grid Defection" three weeks ago, our intent was to stretch the conversation among electricity system stakeholders by looking out far enough in the future to discern a point where the rules of the system change in a fundamental way. We used the best available facts to explore when and where fully off-grid solar-plus-battery systems could become cheaper than grid-purchased electricity in the United States, thus challenging the way the current electricity system operates. Those systems, in fact, don’t even need to go fully off grid. The much less extreme but perhaps far more likely scenario would be grid-connected systems, which could be just as or even more challenging for electricity system operation and utility business models.
The takeaway is this: even under the fully off-grid scenarios we modeled, we have about 10 years — give or take a few — to really solve our electricity business model issues here in the continental U.S. before they begin compounding dramatically. The analysis also suggests we carefully should read the “postcards from the future” being sent from Hawaii today, and take much more interest in how that situation plays out as a harbinger of things to come.
As an institute with a mission to think ahead in the interest of society, consider this a public service message that these issues will crescendo to a point of consequence requiring dramatic and widespread changes well within current planning horizons. For those who are serious about finding solutions, this is also a call to action and a commitment to partnership.
As we look at the future electricity system — the one we need to be building today — we see five critical differences from the present system. Redesigning our regulatory and market models should reflect these emergent needs.
- The future electricity system will be highly transactive. Increasingly, the grid will become a market for making many-to-many connections between suppliers and consumers, with those roles being redefined daily as self-balancing systems decide whether to take from or supply to the grid at any given time.
- Correspondingly, asset and service value will be differentiated by location and timing of availability, and perhaps even by carbon intensity or other socially demanded attributes. In a system that requires instantaneous load matching at the distribution level, and where virtual and real storage are distributed throughout the system, resource coordination will require transparent markets (with increasing automation) that provide the ability to balance autonomously using value signals. A system historically governed by averages instead will migrate to specific, dynamically varying values.
- Innovative energy solutions will proliferate. As a consequence of market forces already unlocked, we are assured to see a regular stream of distributed resource innovations that better meet customer needs at costs comparable to existing utility retail prices. These could be market-based aggregation plays (such as demand response) or personal technologies (a home “power plant” such as solar plus storage or a gas microturbine).
- A consequence of these first three points is that the rules governing the network must be adaptive to constantly shifting asset configurations, operations and other factors. For example, charging EVs may make more sense at night or during the day, depending on the penetration of renewables relative to base needs. There will be lots of inflection points on how and when to encourage the development of different types of assets to reach efficient and stable outcomes.
- Finally, the customer will be increasingly empowered. The services of the grid must de-commoditize to deliver against exact customer needs for reliability, “green-ness” and other attributes. Failure to do so will result in customers finding higher-value alternatives.
Anatomy of a Deal: 4-Cent-per-Kilowatt-Hour Solar in Palo Alto
Controlling soft costs wins “the lowest price ever for a solar PPA for distributed generation.”
March 20, 2014
Palo Alto, California's municipal utility already has low electricity prices -- local recreation center Oshman Family JCC reported paying about 9 cents per kilowatt-hour at certain rate tiers. But THiNKnrg, an energy project developer, was able to provide the center with a 50 percent discount and close a deal with a twenty-year solar PPA price at 4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
This is a relatively small project -- it comprises 398 kilowatts spread across twelve rooftops. And although that doesn't compare in scale to, say, Austin's 5-cent-per-kWh, 150-megawatt PPA, the JCC project distinguishes itself by creatively financing a small project while keeping soft costs down.
The JCC's solar installation is a 397.5-kilowatt system powered by 1,840 Trina PV panels that have been factory-integrated with Tigo power optimizers and connected to KACO inverters. Mark Holtzman, CFO of the Oshman Center, said the PPA would save about $30,000 per year in electricity bills and an estimated $1.5 million in energy savings over the twenty-year contract.
"This is one of the more innovative deals we have done," said Zach Rubin, CEO of THiNKnrg. The PPA takes advantage of the usual 30 percent investment tax credit, plus a generous five-year, 29-cent-per-kilowatt-hour performance-based incentive (PBI).
Solar Usage Shattering Records in California as New Capacity Comes On-Line
The state’s grid is handling more than 15,000 megawatts of renewable capacity without incident.
Herman K. Trabish
March 19, 2014
California is setting records for solar energy usage so fast that the state’s grid operator has had to change its protocol for announcing them.
The instantaneous use of solar by the California Independent System Operator (the ISO) reached a record peak of 4,143 megawatts at 2:28 p.m. on March 16. It was enough electricity to power over 3 million homes, according to the ISO.
The new record supplanted preceding records set on March 8, 14, and 15. It is primarily the result of new capacity coming on-line, according to California ISO Senior Public Information Officer Steven Greenlee. That includes BrightSource Energy’s 392-megawatt Ivanpah CSP project, as well as the 1,900-plus megawatts of new utility-scale PV GTM Research’s 2013 U.S. Solar Market Insight report noted was installed by the state in 2013.
New records are coming so quickly California’s grid operator has decided to change its policy on announcements, Greenlee said. The ISO will now only announce 500-megawatt advances of the record instead of announcing 50-megawatt increments.
The record-breaking 4,143-megawatt instantaneous solar peak March 16 was almost twice the 2,071 megawatts that set the record just nine months ago, on June 7, 2013.
There are 5,231 megawatts of installed solar capacity available to California’s grid operator. Both this figure and the record production do not include the almost 1,100 megawatts of California’s rooftop solar capacity.
The hourly average peak on March 16 from utility-scale PV installations was 3,637 megawatts at 1:26 p.m., and the solar thermal hourly average peak from concentrating solar power plants was 563 megawatts at 3:49 p.m.
Why the Solar Sector Is Outshining All Other Stocks
The low-carbon energy production index has taken the lead in HSBC’s Global Climate Change Index.
RenewEconomy, Giles Parkinson
March 19, 2014
Solar stocks are certainly having their day in the sun, outperforming all other sub-indices in the global stock market to deliver the best returns over the past fifteen months.
After taking off in mid-2013, the 32 stocks in the global solar index monitored by global investment bank HSBC gained 65 percent in value for that calendar year, and the index is already up 23 percent in the first few months of 2014.
The 2014 return-to-date compares to 4.6 percent for the HSBC Global Climate Change Index, and 0.7 percent for the MSCI All Country World Index, one of the key global benchmarks. This graph below shows the comparative performance over the last fifteen months.
Solar PV Industry Targets 100 GW Annual Deployment in 2018, According to NPD Solarbuzz
300 GW of new solar PV to be installed in the next five years, as solar increases to 3% of total global power supply
Santa Clara, Calif., March 20, 2014 — The solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is set for rapid growth over the next five years, with up to 100 gigawatts (GW) annual deployment being targeted in 2018, according to the latest edition of NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz. This end-market growth is projected to increase annual PV module revenues, which are forecast to reach $50 billion in 2018.
Despite being severely hampered by overcapacity and declining operating margins during 2012 and 2013, the PV industry still grew 34% over this two-year period. Having grown to more than 37 GW of end-market demand in 2013, the global solar PV industry is now set to hit a new milestone in 2018, reaching a cumulative installed capacity level of 500 GW. This strong demand will also further stimulate revenues for the industry’s manufacturers, with PV module revenues of more than $200 billion available over the five-year period from 2014 to 2018.
“Solar PV module prices declined faster than the end-market grew in 2012, leading to a dramatic decline in revenues,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “This imbalance was corrected during 2013. Over the next five years, end-market growth will exceed forecasted price declines, resulting in a strong rebound in module revenues.”
“Solar PV suppliers are benefiting from a less volatile pricing environment, compared to previous years,” said Finlay Colville, vice-president of NPD Solarbuzz. “The industry will soon transition to a phase of profitable growth, with solar PV competing directly with traditional forms of energy.”
Solar Market Turns Positive as Demand Grows
By Charles Kennedy | Wed, 19 March 2014 22:43
Rising demand around the world for solar energy is lifting the industry into profitability after years of oversupply. For years, solar manufacturers, spurred on by subsidies and government procurement, churned out higher volumes of solar panels. This succeeded in dramatically bringing down costs, but pushed manufacturers deep into the red when prices plummeted. After a shakeout, many of the companies left standing are returning to profit. Costs continue to decline, and finally demand is catching up with supply.
China’s biggest solar makers recently announced much improved financial performance. Yingli Solar, the world’s largest supplier of solar modules, expects to reach profitability by the third quarter of this year. Its peers, Trina Solar Ltd. and JinkoSolar Holding Co. also laid out higher production and profits for the year. JA Solar reported its first quarterly profit in over two years.
Chile reaches 150 MW of installed solar with further 225 MW under construction
20. March 2014 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Blanca Diaz-Lopez
PV installed capacity increased significantly in February with the connection of the 48.2 MW San Andres project. The volume of solar projects under construction increased from 128 MW in January to 225 MW in February.
Installed photovoltaic power saw remarkable growth in Chile last month. During February, the San Andres SunEdison solar park in the Atacama region began operation with a capacity of 48.2 MW, increasing the country’s cumulative PV capacity to 149.8 MW.
The volume of solar projects under construction also grew considerably in February. According to the latest monthly bulletin of the Renewable Energy Center, 225 MW of solar projects were under construction in February, up from 128 MW the previous month.
Overall, the combined capacity from renewable energy plants in operation in Chile has reached 1,352 MW. Chile’s Renewable Energy Center estimated that the cumulative power of these projects would range from 1,500 MW to 1,800 MW by the end of the year. In addition to the 225 MW of solar under construction there were also 585 MW of wind, some 85 MW of mini-hydro projects and about 32 MW in bioenergy projects under construction in February.
Nanotube composites increase the efficiency of next generation of solar cells
[2014-03-18] Carbon nanotubes are becoming increasingly attractive for photovoltaic solar cells as a replacement to silicon. Researchers at Umeå University in Sweden have discovered that controlled placement of the carbon nanotubes into nano-structures produces a huge boost in electronic performance. Their groundbreaking results are published in the prestigious journal Advanced Materials.
Carbon nanotubes, CNTs, are one dimensional nanoscale cylinders made of carbon atoms that possess very unique properties. For example, they have very high tensile strength and exceptional electron mobility, which make them very attractive for the next generation of organic and carbon-based electronic devices.
There is an increasing trend of using carbon based nanostructured materials as components in solar cells. Due to their exceptional properties, carbon nanotubes are expected to enhance the performance of current solar cells through efficient charge transport inside the device. However, in order to obtain the highest performance for electronic applications, the carbon nanotubes must be assembled into a well-ordered network of interconnecting nanotubes. Unfortunately, conventional methods used today are far from optimal which results in low device performance.
In a new study, a team of physicists and chemists at Umeå University have joined forces to produce nano-engineered carbon nanotubes networks with novel properties.
For the first time, the researchers show that carbon nanotubes can be engineered into complex network architectures, and with controlled nano-scale dimensions inside a polymer matrix.
“We have found that the resulting nano networks possess exceptional ability to transport charges, up to 100 million times higher than previously measured carbon nanotube random networks produced by conventional methods,” says Dr David Barbero, leader of the project and assistant professor at the Department of Physics at Umeå University.
TÜV Rheinland, Rackam develop platform to test high-temperature solar thermal, solar CSP collectors
TÜV Rheinland PTL (Tempe, Arizona, U.S.) and Rackam (Canada) have jointly developed a test bench for measuring the performance and efficiency of collectors for solar thermal and concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, which will be located at TÜV Rheinland's facilities in Tempe.
The bench consists of a pumping circuit equipped with electric heating elements and measuring and control instruments. This enables the circulation of mineral oil-based heat transfer fluids up to 240 degrees Celsius through devices including solar collectors, thermal storage banks and small steam turbine generators.
“The specifications of this project required high precision measurement along with high versatility, which is why we paid a great deal of attention to the selection of measuring equipment,” said Rackam Director of Research and Development Jacques-Alexandre Fortin. “The result is a mobile test bench which is both versatile and very accurate.”
TÜV Rheinland describes the completion of the device as a milestone, stating that it confirms its capability of commitment in providing technical and testing services for the solar thermal industry.
Fullerene-Free OPV Cell Achieves Record 8.4% Efficiency
Written by Sandra Henderson 20 March 2014
Fullerene-free organic photovoltaic (OPV) multilayer stacks developed by the Belgian nanoelectronics research institution Imec have achieved a record power conversion efficiency of 8.4%. The researchers attribute the performance boost to a novel combination of donor and acceptor materials that improves light absorption and a unique architecture that aids charge transfer.
Imec’s thin-film solar cell consists of a three-component organic active layer with one donor compound and two acceptors, sandwiched between commonly used contact and electrode layers. Traditionally, only one acceptor is used in organic solar cells. “The use of three compounds in the active layer, with energy levels that are well-positioned, relative to each other, allow for a cascade effect that ensures that excitons — bound states generated upon excitation by light — can be efficiently separated into free charges,” explains Tom Aernouts, R&D manager for Imec's organic solar cell activities.
Until now, fullerenes were the only known acceptor compounds for use in organic solar cells that showed very fast and efficient charge transfer, according to Imec. But fullerenes have a limited absorption spectrum. “With this novel structure, we open up the library of materials to be used as acceptors,” says Aernouts. Experimenting with many different combinations of donor and acceptor materials allowed the team to improve the absorption of light and thus the organic solar cell’s overall power conversion efficiency.
The record achievement of 8.4% efficiency is breaking new ground in OPV. “It is — to our knowledge — the first fullerene-free organic solar cell reported with such high efficiency,” Aernouts says. Previous fullerene-free cells merely reached efficiencies around 2–3%.
Nature | Comment
Renewable energy: Back the renewables boom
Jessika E. Trancik
19 March 2014
Low-carbon technologies are getting better and cheaper each year, but continued public-policy support is needed to sustain progress, says Jessika E. Trancik.
A new battery is rarely greeted with as much excitement as the latest smartphone or a new drug. The energy industry is widely perceived as sluggish, a provider of basic services and lacking creativity. In fact, a brighter reality is emerging — government support for energy-technology development is paying off.
Public policies to encourage the development and adoption of renewable-energy technologies are essential, because low-carbon performance is not visible to most consumers and carbon is not priced in the global market. Yet there is a widespread lack of confidence in public-sector efforts to spur innovation, as a result of the mixed record of governments in picking winners and losers among technologies.
Some governments are considering reducing their support for renewable-energy projects. The future of the US tax credit for new wind energy is uncertain; the United Kingdom is debating scaling down subsidies for some renewables and relaxing its targets for carbon-emissions reductions, and Spain has abandoned its incentives programme and electricity-price commitments for renewable-energy power plants. The countries of the European Union disagree on a common binding target for the adoption of renewable energy by 2030.
But now is not the time to cut government support for renewables. Each day that we delay implementing low-carbon energy technologies we increase the likelihood of damage from climate change — from storms and floods to forest fires.
The response of the global energy industry to even modest policy interventions has been remarkable. Led by China, Europe, the United States and Japan, the alternative-energy sector is booming worldwide. Solar and wind technologies have improved most rapidly in the past three decades, with photovoltaics a hundred times cheaper today than in 1975.
Governments should help to maintain this progress. Research funds and policies to boost markets will mature new energy industries and promote the next generation of low-carbon technologies.
The speed of energy-technology innovation is only just coming to light as long-term data sets become available. My analyses of 30 or more years of datashow that the costs of renewable-energy technologies have fallen steeply. Photovoltaic module costs have plunged by about 10% per year over the past 30 years and the costs of wind turbines have fallen by roughly 5% per year. Production levels for both technologies have risen by about 30% per year on average.
Some technologies are more open to improvement than others. Compact, modular systems, such as photovoltaics and electronics, are easily experimented on. And processes that may be achieved through alternative designs or materials offer more avenues for advancement. The diversity of semiconductors, for example, is behind the recent development of high-efficiency perovskite solar cells. Other technologies are harder to improve. Those with high commodity costs, such as coal-fired electricity, soon hit cost floors in the marketplace.
Photovoltaic systems and wind turbines are therefore better candidates for sustained cost reduction than large nuclear or coal plants. The lower price of solar cells today is due to increasing the efficiency with which sunlight is converted to electricity within modules, less manufacturing waste and greater economies of scale.
Wind turbines have seen similar progress, reaching higher wind speeds at greater heights to deliver more energy per cost of installed unit. Indeed, wind energy now competes economically with fossil-fuelled thermal power plants in several places, including Texas, and in Denmark it supplies 30% of electricity consumption.
Knowledge about how to design, build and integrate these technologies into the energy infrastructure has also grown. For example, it takes roughly half the time to install a solar system in Germany compared with the United States, thanks to a more experienced workforce and streamlined permit processes.
Opportunities and investment for energy storage technologies
IEA report says technologies offer significant potential for energy-sector decarbonisation but struggle in today’s markets
19 March 2014
Energy storage technologies – spanning everything from electric water heaters to pumped hydro – are valuable components in most energy systems and could be an important tool for achieving a low-carbon future. In a new report released today, the IEA estimates that China, India, the European Union and the United States alone should invest at least USD 380 billion in new electricity storage capacity by 2050 to support decarbonisation.
By setting aside energy for use when and where it is needed, energy storage – both electricity and thermal (for heating and cooling) – can decouple supply from demand, increasing system flexibility and improving reliability. It is expected that storage could play a key role in coming decades in facilitating the expansion of variable renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
"Energy storage technologies can play a key role in energy sector decarbonisation by helping to better connect electricity and heat networks," Didier Houssin, IEA Director of Sustainable Energy Policy and Technology, said at the Paris release of the roadmap. "Furthermore, these technologies can improve the efficiency of energy resource use and increase energy access, which are critical components of a secure, sustainable energy system for all."
Technology Roadmap: Energy Storage, the latest in the series of IEA publications that show how different technologies can speed the transition to a low-carbon energy system, can be downloaded for free here.
Technology Roadmap: Energy Storage presents an electricity-sector decarbonisation scenario that integrates renewables in part by deploying an estimated 310 gigawatts of additional grid-connected electricity storage in the US, Europe, India and China by 2050. That is 100 times more storage capacity than at the Bath County Pumped Storage Station in the United States, the largest single electricity storage facility in the world, and nearly 10 times all present electricity storage in the European Union.
Storage systems can be defined by how long they can store energy, from systems that hold solar power for use at night to seasonal systems that save summer heat to warm homes in the winter. On the shortest-term basis, electricity storage systems can shift supply and demand within an area to correct load imbalances, avoiding brownouts and blackouts. Storage includes large, centralised systems as well as small and off-grid units.
IEA: R&D, not ‘silver bullet’ hype required on energy storage
By Andy Colthorpe - 20 March 2014, 10:20
In News, Power Generation, Grid Connection
Energy storage technologies are not the “silver bullet” they have sometimes been hyped as, but nonetheless have a crucial role to play in a decarbonised electricity system, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA has published a technology ‘roadmap’ for energy storage, covering electricity and thermal storage systems.
The document attempts to address the three questions of where energy storage technology is today, what long-terms goals for energy storage development and deployment might be and finally what priority actions are required to put increased development and deployment of energy storage into practice.
The roadmap is aimed at increasing stakeholders’ understanding of electrical and thermal energy storage and how the corresponding technologies can be deployed at various points along transmission and generation systems, IEA said.
In addition, the roadmap attempts to point the way towards success in accelerating the deployment and development of storage technologies in the short and long term by identifying actions to support the embryonic industry. The IEA identifies ‘short term’ as within 10 years while ‘long term’ represents the period up to 2050.
The report identifies the current and possible future roles of energy storage, including the integration of higher levels of variable renewable energy penetration, supporting an increase in electricity consumed nearer to generation sources and making grids more flexible, reliable, resilient and stable.
Key recommendations made in the roadmap include the need for better data sets to quantify the need for storage and its potential uses. According to the IEA, improved global data sets would be useful in tracking progress within the industry and would provide better global and regional potential and targets. The roadmap also provides ‘technology timelines’ which forecast the expected levels of progress in the three scenarios modelled.
Houssin said: “The first thing to do is to provide the right market signals, to provide the right incentives, to encourage innovation and provide the right contribution to storage in its different applications. The second thing is, the more we will go to an electricity system that has more distributed generation, that will really provide strong incentives to develop more solutions for electricity storage.
“The third one is about the need for innovation, because we need a lot of R&D to develop new solutions, maybe obtain some breakthroughs. So it’s a mixed message but also a call for more R&D and more reflection in terms of the right regulatory framework that will incentivise more investment in storage facilities. Again it’s not a solution for tomorrow but in a long term vision of a decarbonised electricity system, we are definitely convinced that storage has a very important role to play.”
Houssin concluded by saying: “On one side, there is a lot of hype on energy storage as a ‘silver bullet’ solution for all problems with power markets. We’d rather say that it is one option among others and in terms of cost competition, not all technologies are sufficiently cost effective today to be presented – as they too often are – as a ‘silver bullet’ to solve all the problems of power systems.”
Renewable Energy Opponents at it Again in Kansas, but Wind (and Solar!) Power Forge Ahead
Jeff Deyette, asst director of research & analysis, Clean Energy
March 20, 2014
ALEC and their fossil fuel-funded cohorts are taking yet another crack at undermining renewable energy policy in Kansas. Fortunately, their ill-conceived antics are not distracting wind and solar development from moving full steam ahead.
This week, the Senate held a public hearing on SB 433, a bill that would outright repeal the state’s successful renewable electricity standard (RES) requiring that 20 percent of Kansas’s power come from renewable energy by 2020. The bill is sponsored by the Ways and Means Committee, which is chaired by Senator Ty Masterson — an ALEC member. While you have to marvel at their persistence and political theater — similar attacks on the RES have failed each of the last two years — the tactics behind these rollback efforts are more insidious. Recent efforts to discredit the RES by linking it to multiple utility rate hikes and Obamacare have been characterized as “nothing short of a lie,” “misleading,” and “laughable.”
In truth, the RES has already delivered substantial economic and environmental benefits to local communities and it’s been affordable. According to a Kansas Corporate Commission report, RES-driven development has had a very modest 1.7 percent impact on consumer rates. That’s why 75 percent of Kansans support the current RES policy.