Archive for Energy Storage

A123 Goes to Wanxiang in $260M Bankruptcy Auction Bid

Congressman Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican, wrote on his Facebook page: “I have serious concerns over the Chinese firm Wanxiang Group Corp attempt to buy A123. I am concerned this transaction poses a threat to U.S. national security, America’s global innovation leadership and job creation.” According to Huizenga, A123′s contracts with the DOE involve power grids, advanced armor, unmanned vehicles and portable power systems.
I could not agree more. New technology that is inherent in our military applications is usually limited from export by what is know as ‘export control’ limitations imposed by the Federal Government. I know because I was an export control officer when I served at Fort Monmouth New Jersey. So limiting the technology developed in this country vital to the defense needs must be protected. I am not enough of an expert in batteries to say that A123 is the most vital battery technology available, but other experts at the Department of Energy supposedly are expert in assessing the technology of A123 as compared to what else is available here. The corporate world works on the rule of the fiduciary who acts at all times for the sole benefit and interest of the one who trusts (investors). Forget loyalty, social benefit, patriotism because all these are not the concern of the corporation who are ruled to serve the best interests of their investors, whomever they may be.

“This may be the closing chapter of A123 Systems as a U.S.-owned firm. According to news reports citing sources with knowledge of the matter, lithium-ion battery maker A123 is now owned by Wanxiang Group, China’s largest maker of auto parts and a major supplier to Ford and General Motors.

Wanxiang’s $260 million bid bested a joint offer from Johnson Controls and NEC for control of most of the assets of A123, including the automotive battery business that Johnson Controls had wanted to purchase, a representative of Lazard Freres, investment banker for A123, told Reuters. Germany’s Siemens was also a bidder, according to news reports.

Wanxiang’s apparent winning bid is sure to raise an outcry in Washington, D.C., however. A123 had received $250 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants and has spent about half of the funding to build its key battery plants in Michigan. The company is also developing battery storage technology for the U.S. military, an area that could raise national security concerns — although according to reports, A123′s government business will be sold separately to U.S.-based Navitas Systems for $2.25 million, which could assuage some concerns on that front.”
entire article

Climate Change and Solar Solutions: A Hurricane Sandy (Ongoing) Experience

Solar plus energy storage would be the answer to challenge freak storms

Raina Russo drives through the ravaged streets of her coastal neighborhood in New York, dodging downed trees and aware of the constant sirens that indicate emergency workers are responding to yet another fire. This is what she calls her “new normal” in her life post-Sandy. Reflecting on her own experience, Russo says she has come to realize our true dependence on power and how it affects our lives.

“You think of power and you think you’ve lost electricity in your home, refrigerator, heater, and so on. But it’s so much more than that. We lost power and cell service dropped; we were up against a gas shortage because the pipelines turn off during the storm and during loss of electricity,” Russo explains. “So you have no power, and all of a sudden you have no communication and no transportation – and you have no means of even operating generators that weren’t flooded because of the gas shortage. Its such a compounded situation, and it’s all about power.”

One part of Russo’s property that seems to have made it through the storm unscathed: her 10.4-kW rooftop solar system. Pending a full system check from Mercury Solar Solutions, her installer, Russo says it looks like her inverters are high enough to have avoided flood damage, and her panels withstood the Hurricane-force winds and remain intact.
Russo lost electricity because her system is tied to the grid; during outages most systems shut down to prevent power from feeding into power lines, which endangers workers that may be out for repairs. This got Russo thinking about storage solutions. She says she hadn’t thought about storage until Sandy, but after speaking to friends and neighbors who own top-of-the-line generators that were flooded and, ultimately, unusable, Russo thinks she should take her existing system to the next level.

“Storage is going to be my first priority in my [home] rebuild process. I need to consult with people on this because I’m not an expert, but why would I invest in a gas generator,” says Russo. “Our panels are on our roof, supposedly they are not damaged, the inverters are high enough that they are not getting damaged either, so if we had storage, that could act as our backup generator.”

The good news: Home solar arrays seemed to withstand Sandy’s furious winds. Sungevity says the company’s installations are designed to hold up to sustained winds of up to 100 miles per hour. Sandy’s gusts hit 90 mph at their peak.

Sunrun, another residential solar company, has about 6,500 customers in the Northeast, and hadn’t received any reports of damage by Wednesday afternoon, according to spokeswoman Susan Wise. John Steeves, a Sungevity customer in Woodstown, N.J., with 39 panels on his roof, says the storm flooded his basement, knocked out power, and toppled massive trees in his neighborhood—but left his solar arrays unscathed. He thinks having the panels above even helped protect the roof of his 47-year-old home. The entire article can be located here

Levy comments: So,if we had added storage to our solar systems for homes and businesses, we would have power. The missing link: the battery. They are expensive, today’s most popular batteries, lead-acid, have limited lives, some need maintenance on a constant basis, and the upcoming lithium batteries being used in autos are very expensive. There are novel chemistries that show promise, but unless you have an Angel investor willing to sink millions into a ‘maybe’ we will not realize an affordable energy store in the next ten years. There are novel chemistries out there who have sought government investments such as SBIRs, SunShot initiatives, but none can demonstrate a pathway to less than $150 per kilowatthour. That is what we need. I am personally aware of the struggles one energy storage company has gone through to find that one Angel investor or government (federal, state) that is willing to risk the money. China has had its ‘Great Leap’ and now the United States needs a similar ‘Great Leap’ in energy storage. The need is there, where are the risk takers?

Black Bear Solar Institute provides electric car chargers, wildlife rehab

Black Bear Solar Institute, through operating electric vehicle charging stations and demonstrating how solar technology operates, has established a Green Gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Townsend.

The institute operates electric vehicle charging stations from major metropolitan areas of the state and the interstates to the national park gateway community of Townsend, said Lisa Stewart, vice president and executive director of Black Bear Solar Institute. People can stop in the office at Trillium Cove and get their electric cars recharged, see demonstrations of solar equipment installation methods and practices.

The nonprofit group headquartered in Pigeon Forge expanded to Townsend earlier this year, locating in the Trillium Cove Shopping Village off East Lamar Alexander Parkway at 161 Painted Trillium Way in Townsend.

In addition to operating charging stations and providing renewable energy information, proceeds from corporate purchases of 30-year solar module sponsorships will help establish a wildlife rehabilitation facility in a remote area of Townsend.

“One result of this project is to make Townsend the most electric vehicle-friendly city in the world, with more charging stations per capita than any city on earth,” Stewart said.
more

Distributed Pumped Store or Just Hydroelectric Power or Both?

J. Paul Sims, professor at ETSU and TSEA board member has been interested in studying distributed pumped store as part of the integral need for energy storage.  The concept is to run plants at full power during times of heavy demand in anticipation of near term energy needs for hot summers.  No doubt that hot summers like this one are not a fluke.  With a combination of pumped store along with solar, biomass and base plant operations, this may be a less expensive alternative to purchasing outside power.  Now well funded investors are recognizing the investment opportunities in purchasing dams and reservoirs that can be converted to pumped storage thereby adding to their available assets.  Consider the impact of the court decision to upheld the EPA’s authority to regulate green house gases.  Maybe the cost of natural gas fired turbines may not be the best investment if the right of the federal govenment to regulate the public’s health is uphold to a future test by the Supreme court if the electric power companies continue the fight to prevent expensive air pollution controls from being instituted.

The monied investors seem to think that purchasing water containment bodies are a good idea.  So do I.  I am for it IF the resource is managed correctly to take into account any potential environmental damage from the water fluxing.

Take a look at the following article found today knowing that TVA has recently granted leases to some of its stored water bodies.

June 29, 2012

 Source: Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners L.P.  

Cheoah Dam, on the Little Tennessee RiverBrookfield Renewable Energy Partners L.P. (BEP.UN) (Brookfield Renewable) has announced an agreement to acquire, with its institutional partners, a portfolio consisting of four generating stations in Tennessee and North Carolina from Alcoa Power Generating Inc. for a total enterprise value of $600 million, subject to certain price adjustments.

“We believe this acquisition provides a unique opportunity to capture rising electricity prices, and our operating platform and expertise is well-suited to maximize the value of this portfolio over the long term,” added Mr. Legault, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brookfield Renewable..

The Tapoco plants can be operated as daily peaking facilities and benefit from one of the lowest cost of operations in the TVA region, further enhancing their attractiveness and long-term value potential. In 2005, Tapoco was granted a 40 year operating license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

 

 

Scientists create spray-on battery paint

Rice University researchers have created spray-on battery paint, creating the potential for new gadget form factors.

One of the primary factors holding back the development of truly next-generation devices is battery technology. Yes, the lithium-ion power modules that energize most of our current flock of gadgets are fairly small and reliable. But they still take up a relatively large amount of space in our devices, and often dictate the form factor to a certain degree. Fortunately, scientists at Rice University in Texas have developed an interesting solution: spray-on batteries.

Neelam Singh, one of the Rice researchers involved in the project, says they will work to reduce the size of the paint needed to hold a meaningful charge, and hope to make their creation more user friendly. Singh tells New Scientist that he hopes to one day pair the spray-on battery with paintable solar cells, to create the next generation of home electrical systems. When exactly such a thing will be possible, well, we’ll just have to be patient.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/scientists-create-spray-on-battery-paint/#ixzz1zCjEtPwE

The Birth of the Net-Zero Energy Community

Sandia National Laboratories and Forest City Enterprises – Partnering for a Secure and Sustainable Energy Future

In Albuquerque, N.M., a smart grid-solar-energy storage project backed by a consortium of Japanese giants is testing out a key element of the  net-zero energy community: how to harness mass-market solar to balance the grid inside and outside the neighborhood’s borders. This project could take the claim of the first fully functioning microgrid in the country, said Manny Barrera, Mesa Del Sol’s director of engineering.

Renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind, coupled with smart grid and microgrid technologies, energy storage, and energy efficiency are viable options to address the problem of system integration. However, integrating these systems require full understanding of operational challenges and establishing a return on investment.

To address these challenges, Sandia National Laboratories and Forest City Enterprises are collaborating to advance research and provide real-world test beds to Mesa del Sol project. As the centerpiece of the venture is the 78,000-square-foot Aperture Center which has been set up to run on its own solar power with its 440-kilowatt peak load covered by a 50-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, an 80-kilowatt fuel cell, a 240-kilowatt natural gas powered generator and a 160-kilowatt-hour battery storage system.

The technology — and funding — comes via Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), which is investing about $10 million in the Mesa Del Sol project as well as U.S. private and government funding.

original article

819 solar panels placed atop Bristol’s old demolition landfill

Bristol, Tenn. —

Bristol installs solar on closed construction landfill

You can certainly feel the power of the sun on one of recent sunny days. It’s not only the heat but those rays can be used to make power.

That’s the cornerstone of the solar energy business.

There’s a new alternative energy business – that includes solar and wind power – in Bristol, Tennessee.

It was a symbolic green ribbon that was cut to signal the opening of Ecological Energy Systems in Bristol Tennessee.

The new business focuses on solar and wind power and have actually been doing business for over two years now.

This is their first store front, but their work is visible around the region, from commercial applications, to residential, and then there’s a solar farm.

819 solar panels placed atop Bristol’s old demolition landfill that’s no longer in use.

more

A New High Energy Storage Concept for Solar PV

If you cannot beat them, then join them

 Hydrogenics Corp. announced that it has entered into an agreement with Enbridge Inc. to jointly develop utility scale energy storage in North America. The collaboration will bring together Hydrogenics’ expertise in water electrolysis with Enbridge’s expertise in the ownership and operation of natural gas pipeline networks and renewable energy generation. . With ’Power-to-Gas’, the hydrogen produced during periods of excess renewable generation will be injected into the existing natural gas pipeline network, proportionally increasing the renewable energy content in natural gas pipelines for essentially the operating cost of the electrolyzer. Small quantities of hydrogen can be manageable in existing natural gas pipeline networks. With the significant scale of the natural gas pipeline network, these same quantities of hydrogen have a very meaningful impact on electricity energy storage potential. The natural gas pipeline network represents a vast energy storage system which already exists. The utility scale energy storage leverages existing natural gas pipeline and storage assets to enable improved operability for the electrical system. Furthermore, the economics are further improved by leveraging existing gas generators to bring this renewable energy back to the electrical grid where, and when, it is needed most.

read more

Tennessee Could Power the World’s 1.5 Billion Without Electricity

An estimated 1.5 Billion people, or a quarter of the world’s population, are without electric power.  Reliable electric power is key to economic development around the world.  Electricity is needed to power cell phones, medical equipment, schools, lighting, radio, and many other uses to increase human health and the quality of life.  The answer to reliable electric power for all people is a solar powered, inexpensive, air-droppable power source.

According to the Humanitarian Technology Challenge sponsored by the United Nations Foundation and the IEEE, what is needed is a low cost, high reliability, low maintenance, high scalability and flexibility, environmentally friendly solution to energy accessibility.  A household in a rural area without power only needs a modest 0.1 to 1 kW of power, and a rural hospital only needs 3 to 5 kW of power.  A solar powered air-droppable power source fits all of these requirements.

Our vision is a 5 kW solar array combined with a power box that will house all the power electronics and enough energy storage to continue supplying power at night or through the rainy season.    The power source is neatly packaged and air-dropped into location, where it can be set up in a few hours by the local population.  All they have to do is inflate the solar panel array, plug it into the power box, and then simply plug in their lights, cell phones, or anything they require day or night.

As the village requires more electricity, the modular design of the system allows for the flexibility of adding more panels or more energy storage in the future.  A system can accommodate energy storage levels from 1 kWh to 50 kWh.  The system could also be used as an energy source for a micro grid connecting to all of the houses and small businesses in the village.

This is an achievable goal with new technology in the next 5 years at a low price that would enable a village to buy their own systems.  Instead of relying on foreign aid money, the people of the village can pay as little as $2.00 a month to buy their own power source through micro loans.

We could build a factory for these systems here in Tennessee, and sell these systems to the people of less developed countries all over the world.  This would be a giant leap to helping our fellow humans.  We can bring jobs and money into our community, while making the world a better place for everyone.  We are our brother’s keeper.

For more information on the Humanitarian Technology Challenge, visit their website at: ieeehtc.org.

Power Tower and Salt Storage

With approval of the Environmental Impact Review on its 200-megawatt, two-tower Saguache Solar Energy Project, SolarReserve hopes to soon get started on a new pair of solar power tower/molten salt storage facilities.”"

“This is the major environmental permit,” SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith said. “The bigger issue, in order to start construction, is we need to secure an offtaker.” CEO Kevin Smith also stated that his solar power tower and molten salt storage system is “less expensive, more efficient, and technically superior.”

SolarReserve’s flagship 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant in Nevada has a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Nevada Power and is under construction and scheduled to come on-line at the end of 2013. For more information please click here.