Category Archives: Energy storage

Grid operators turning to batteries as costs fall and need for flexibility rises

Engineering News, 28 November, 2017

The standalone cost of battery energy storage remains above South Africa’s prevailing, albeit rising, electricity tariffs, but could already be commercially viable in some instances when the “stacked benefits” of the technology are taken into account.

A levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) study undertaken by Mott MacDonald Africa, based on a vanadium redox flow solution raging in size from 1 MW (6 MWh) to 20 MW (120 MWh), calculated the LCOE of battery storage to be between $0.23/kWh and $0.45/kWh.

The battery LCOE was already below, in some instances, the $0.40/kWh calculated for generation using diesel and only marginally above Eskom’s winter peak tariff of $0.20/kWh. However, it remained well above the $0.10/kWh LCOE associated with coal and nuclear, as well as Eskom’s summer tariff.

Nevertheless, Mott MacDonald Africa’s Paul Tuson argued that the viability of battery storage would continue to improve as battery costs declined and that, in some cases, such systems could already be commercially justified when the associated, or stacked, benefits were also considered.

Speaking at ee publishers’ SA Energy Storage 2017 conference and exhibition taking place in Gauteng, Tuson listed these as being: load or peak shifting; the provision of reactive power, load following; a reduction in losses and network congestion; grid reliability improvements; the potential to defer other capital projects; facilitating the connection of additional load; the smoothing of intermittency associated with the integration of variable renewable energy; the provision of ancillary services, such as frequency and voltage stabilisation; the replacement of expensive dieselgeneration; and improving the operation of off-grid hybrid schemes…

Even today in systems that do not have high renewable-energy penetration rates, systems operators are decoupling the ancillary services from generator dispatch. By providing all active power reserves through storage they are able to dispatch conventional generation more economically.

“My prediction is that, within the next five or ten years, all operating reserves will be delivered by storage, irrespective of variable renewable energy,” Poeller said. 

Here is the full article

The Dream of Cheap Nuclear Power Is Over

Noah Smith, Bloomberg, 31 January, 2017.

For much of my life, I loved the idea of nuclear power. The science was so cool, futuristic and complicated, the power plants so vast and majestic. I devoured science-fiction novels like “Lucifer’s Hammer,” where a plucky nuclear entrepreneur restarts civilization after a comet almost wipes us out. I thought of accidents like Three Mile Island and even Chernobyl as stumbling blocks to a nuclear future.

Then, in 2011, two things happened. First, a tsunami knocked out the nuclear reactor at Fukushima, forcing a mass evacuation and costing Japan hundreds of billions of dollars. Second, I learned that progress in solar power had been a lot faster and steadier than I had realized. I started taking a closer look at whether nuclear was really the future of energy. Now I’m pretty convinced that my youthful fantasies of a nuclear world won’t come true anytime soon…

… So nuclear power hasn’t become the futuristic dream technology the old science-fiction novels envisioned. Instead, it’s a huge, risky government-subsidized corporate boondoggle. Someday we may have fusion power or small, cheap fission reactors, and the old dream of nuclear will be realized. But unless one of those breakthrough technologies comes to fruition, nuclear isn’t the power of tomorrow.

Here is the full article



New residential energy solution launched in South Africa

Engineering News, 19 April, 2016.

A residential energy solution, which allows homeowners to generate and store their own electricity, has been officially launched in the Western Cape market by Energy Partners Home Solutions, a division of PSG. Dubbed the ‘Icon Home Energy Hub’, the solution comprises roof-mounted solar panels with a 3.1 kWp capacity and an inverter, which converts direct-current electricity produced by the panels to alternating current. The inverter is integrated with a 3.6 kWh lithium-iron phosphate battery, which is able to store energy for use during higher-tariff peak periods. Print Send to Friend 5 0 In fact, the full household solution also includes a hot-water tank, a heat pump and a remote monitoring platform allowing the user to monitor the status of their system directly through a mobile app. However, the company has opted for a modular deployment approach and is willing, for instance, to install only aspects of the overall offering, depending on a homeowner’s requirements. The full solution will cost R167 000 before value added tax and is designed primarily for medium-sized households with a monthly electricity bill of above R1 500.

See the full article here.

How battery storage costs could plunge below $100/kWh

RE New Economy, 7 October, 2014.

The flow of analysis about battery storage from big-end investment banks continues apace. Last week it was HSBC and Citigroup with ground-breaking reports – which we wrote about here andhere. UBS also jumped in on the act too.

Why is this so? Well, according to UBS, interest from both investors and corporates has accelerated in recent months. That’s because the big end of town is suddenly alive to the opportunities of a technology that will likely be even more disruptive than solar. And the key is in the forecast on costs.

Citigroup last week cited $230/kWh as the key mark where battery storage wins out over conventional generation and puts the fossil fuel incumbents into terminal decline…

Read more…

Using smart storage to enhance rooftop solar performance

EE Publishers, 25 September, 2014.

(EGI-SA ed.: An excellent article, well worth reading.)

Rooftop , or own generation, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, are being installed by many commercial and industrial users, including mines, with the aim of reducing energy costs and increasing security of supply. What many users don’t realise is that the load profile results in unused energy which may be utilised to gain further advantages in effective use of the solar power generated. This article examines possible ways to use surplus energy effectively.

Most businesses run a five, or five-and-a-half, day single shift working week with either complete shutdown over weekends or partial shutdown on Saturdays and complete shutdown on Sundays. Even mines have one day a week when the only load is the overhead ventilation and background activities. The solar system however, cannot be switched off and continues to generate energy, which is either wasted, or curtailed to ensure no feedback into the grid. This energy could be stored and effectively used during the working week to reduce total energy demand, lower maximum demand, peak shaving, load shifting and a variety of other demand shaping processes. The advantage of stored energy is that it can be delivered to the load in any profile desired to achieve whatever aim is required if smart storage is used..

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