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Tritium Technology lets Hungarian EV Drivers Experience Country's First Liquid-Cooled 50kW Fast Charger 

Renewable Energy Magazine - 27 min 53 sec ago
Hungary’s NKM Mobilitas Ltd. has installed the country’s first liquid-cooled 50kW DC fast charger for electric vehicles, provided by Australian company, Tritium, in the KÖKI Terminál P+R, an underground parking facility at one of Budapest’s major shopping malls

BNEF Analysis Shows Wind and Solar are Cheapest Sources of Power Generation

Renewable Energy Magazine - 27 min 53 sec ago
Every six months, BloombergNEF runs its Levelized Cost of Electricity analysis, an assessment of the cost competitiveness of different power generating and energy storage technologies – excluding subsidies.

IEA Executive Director Highlights Hydrogen on Visit to Netherlands

Renewable Energy Magazine - 27 min 53 sec ago
Dr. Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, highlighted the possible opportunities of hydrogen during a visit to the Netherlands, where he met with Eric Wiebes, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.  

NY simplifies interconnection standards to ensure 'robust' clean energy pipeline: PSC chair

Utility Dive - 1 hour 20 min ago

"If you want people to do something, make it easy," Public Service Commission Chairman John Rhodes told Utility Dive.

Trump to nominate acting EPA head Wheeler for permanent top spot

Utility Dive - 1 hour 38 min ago

Wheeler has directed multiple efforts to roll back environmental regulations, including vehicle efficiency standards and rules on coal plant mercury emissions, carbon pollution and ash disposal. 

Albuquerque, NM scraps electric bus deal, delays BRT rollout again

Utility Dive - 2 hours 13 min ago

Bus safety concerns have been plaguing the plan to get the city's BRT network up and running.

NTSB faults NiSource for deadly Massachusetts gas explosions

Utility Dive - 2 hours 41 min ago

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found "omissions in the engineering work package and construction documentation" for the Columbia Gas system work that led to overpressurization and deadly explosions.

Third battery storage maker to set up factory in South Australia

Renew Economy - 2 hours 46 min ago

Canada's Eguana Technologies become third major battery storage company to announce manufacturing facilities in South Australia.

The post Third battery storage maker to set up factory in South Australia appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Customer demand drives SRP to add 1 GW new solar by 2025

Utility Dive - 2 hours 59 min ago

By the end of Fiscal Year 2025, Salt River Project plans to have more than 1,200 MW of solar capacity and will be in the market to add battery storage.

India-Improved monsoon winds help Indian power producers

Renewable Energy Magazine - 3 hours 28 min ago
After a prolonged period of decline, the 2018 monsoon season has brought significantly higher than average wind speeds across India, according to wind speed maps published last week by Vaisala.

ScottMadden Energy Industry Update forecasts growth opportunity in efficient US electrification

Renewable Energy Magazine - 3 hours 28 min ago
Management consultancy specialising in energy, ScottMadden Inc, has released its latest edition of The Energy Industry Update (EIU) which explores current thinking about electrification in the US.

UK countryside must be prepared for climate change so that it supports reduced emissions says CCC

Renewable Energy Magazine - 3 hours 28 min ago
The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the UK Government on climate change and clean energy, has published two linked reports finding that the British countryside is in need of substantial reform so that it can support emissions reduction.

Cable deals signed for two UK projects

Wind Power Monthly - 3 hours 42 min ago
UK: Agreements have been signed for export cable systems at two offshore wind farms off the UK with a combined capacity of more than 2GW.

Electricity subsidies 'in doubt' across EU after ruling

Wind Power Monthly - 3 hours 50 min ago
EUROPE: The future of electricity capacity mechanisms across Europe have been put into question after a court ruling led to the suspension of the UK's €6.3bn security of supply energy auction, campaigners said.

Why Is the Texas Market So Tough for Energy Storage?

Greentech Media: Headlines - 4 hours 18 min ago

The booming renewables industry in Texas should, in theory, create a role for energy storage plants to manage its variability.

Years into the Lone Star State’s wind and solar deployment, though, little grid storage has arrived, and future prospects look bleak. 

Early projects have delivered some 89 megawatts of storage into ERCOT's grid, said Cheryl Mele, chief operating officer of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the grid operator. Another 1,800 megawatts have entered the interconnection queue, which by no means guarantees they will be built.

Lack of a winning business model makes it unlikely mass deployments will begin any time soon. That could leave significant value on the table for Texas ratepayers.

"When you look at the amount of renewables we do have, certainly storage would have some value in being able to respond quickly," said Mele, speaking at Wood Mackenzie's Power & Renewables Summit in Austin Wednesday.

"If we start to see a gap between our forecasted load and our forecasted intermittent renewables, the batteries can respond very quickly," Mele added. "They can cover a bit of that gap while you’re waiting for other resources to ramp up."

Here are the major obstacles facing the young energy storage market in Texas, with some provisional solutions to get this technology into play.

Utilities can’t own it

Texas power market deregulation separated competitive generation from regulated wires utilities.

That implicates storage because it qualifies as generation in this market; that means it has to compete with gas generators, and wires utilities are not allowed to own it, lest their ownership undermine the bedrock of competitive markets.

That said, batteries don't actually generate; they store electricity generated elsewhere, and release it at useful times. The discharge of power resembles generation, but batteries can readily function as transmission or distribution assets.

The classic case would be when load growth in a certain area strains the substation or transmission lines serving customers there. The traditional solution is to upgrade the substation or build new wires, at great expense to ratepayers. Sometimes the additional power required on a rare peak event can be served with the addition of a battery system nearby, at much less expense.

This doesn’t work just anywhere. Indeed, the deferral projects are rare enough to remain nameable: Arizona Public Service’s Punkin Center; Duke Energy’s Smoky Mountains outpost; an American Electric Power subsidiary's Presidio project, before Texas decided to call storage generation.

These projects made storage pay for itself on economic grounds in states with no policy incentives to support deployment. That says something. But that won’t be happening in Texas, under the current rules.

It’s hard to gauge just how big a market this could be for storage. One rough indicator: American Electric Power pledged this week to invest $25 billion in transmission and distribution infrastructure across the U.S. If a fraction of that ends up in Texas, it would represent a billion dollar opportunity for storage to get involved in.

It’s hard enough out here for a generator

This argument is more about feasibility.

In the rough a tumble Texas energy market, nobody is guaranteed anything. Participants look at market signals a choose whether or not to invest. If they do, they have to decide when prices justify firing up their generators. To stay afloat, they need to hit enough good scarcity events in a year to make up for the stretches of low prices.

That’s getting harder and harder to do, especially as wind resources start pushing down regular wholesale prices.

It’s tough actually making money in this game, and that’s for established companies with existing assets using tried and true technology. The idea of competing by building a new asset using relatively new technology, which doesn’t make electricity but obtains it from elsewhere and then returns it to the grid with some losses, seems highly improbable.

Add to that the lack of available financing for storage projects without long term contracts, and it becomes quite clear why no storage developers are looking to prove themselves in the Texas market.

No capacity contracts

This bears repeating: Texas has no capacity market. It does not contract with plants to come online in a pinch. That removes a financing tool that has launched hundreds of megawatts in California and the U.K.

Storage projects have worked without long-term contracts. The whole PJM frequency regulation market, which launched the U.S. grid battery era, rested on merchant investment to grab quick returns. But that market tanked after some rule adjustments, and since then, merchant storage hasn’t had any luck in the U.S.

“People are much more cautious based on what happened in PJM,” said Daniel Finn-Foley, senior analyst covering energy storage at Woodmac P&R.

Frequency market is a dead end

Texas does have a market for frequency regulation, and some storage projects are participating. But this is all merchant too, and the returns are nowhere near as solid as the early days of PJM's battery boom.

The small market is already getting saturated, Finn-Foley noted. That pattern has repeated everywhere else storage rushes in to perform this fast-response grid service. It won't form the basis of an enduring market.

Arbitrage is not enough, yet

If storage can bridge the gaps between electrical feast and famine, there should be money in that. After all, prices can spike up to a cap of $9,000 per megawatt-hour, although that’s only happened once so far.

Lucrative price spikes, though, don’t come regularly enough to make a living on. A battery would have to load up on cheap or free wind power, and wait. 

"If you're sitting around doing nothing, ideally you want to be paid to sit around and do nothing, but there isn’t a mechanism for that in ERCOT," Finn-Foley said.

All the existing gas plants are also waiting hungrily for price spikes. When they see one, they pounce, and that can limit the windfall to an hour or less.

If storage developers really believed in their technology, they absolutely could go into this market today without regulatory barriers to worry about. The case may improve as more wind and solar come online, bringing more negative price events and transmission constraints.

FERC can’t help

Storage professionals are salivating in anticipation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions Order 841 results, which will clarify the ability of storage technology to participate wholesale markets.

"Markets are designed to favor conventional generation — that’s why FERC is ordering these markets to be redesigned so that storage is eligible," Finn-Foley said. "There needs to be some recognition of the fact that storage is different."

That won’t help developers in ERCOT, because that territory, within a single state, does not fall under federal regulatory jurisdiction. They’ll have to go it alone.

Near-term solutions

This all sounds pretty dire for Texan storage development. ERCOT is careening towards a state of renewables overload, while the snappiest tool to manage that intermittency lacks a viable path to market.

All is not lost, yet. Some projects have still managed to appear, despite these obstacles. The near-term pathways for this break down into three categories:

Third party service: A proceeding has begun before the Texas utility regulator to clarify a workaround for the “utilities can’t own storage” problem. One idea floated at the Power & Renewables Summit: the wires utility would contract the services of energy storage from a third party, and earn a regulated rate of return on the expenditure as an alternative to more expensive capital upgrades.

In theory, this saves ratepayers money compared to the old approach, it gives utilities a new way to earn profits, which they like, and it creates an opening for storage developers to hawk their services.

Merchant experimentation: A few companies have gone ahead and built battery plants already, treating it as an R&D expense to help them develop new business models.

Duke Energy did that at its Notrees wind farm. More recently, Vistra built the business case for the biggest battery in Texas by capturing solar generation that was getting clipped at an existing plant.

This category does not qualify as a proper market, but the more practice companies have with storage deployment, the more likely they are to try it if a better path to market comes along.

Customer-sited resilience for small-scale storage: After storms and floods, resilience is on the mind of many Texas businesses and homeowners. This customer-sited use case doesn’t require tricky regulatory overhauls, but projects will be smaller than grid-scale would provide.

Solar Foods Readies Hydrogen-to-Protein Pilot

Greentech Media: Headlines - 4 hours 28 min ago

A Finnish company called Solar Foods next month plans to start making a kilo of food a day from nothing but electricity, water and air.

The company will electrolyze water to produce hydrogen that is used, along with carbon dioxide and small amounts of trace elements, to feed microbes. 

The microbial cells, with a protein content of up to 60 percent and an amino acid composition similar to soya beans or algae, will be heat treated to form a fine powder, similar in appearance and texture to dried milk.

Solar Foods CEO Pasi Vainikka said the product could be used to enrich widely consumed human foods such as bread or pasta. 

The company’s €1 million (USD $1.1 million) pilot plant, near the Finnish capital of Helsinki, is intended as a precursor to commercial-scale operations that could commence as early as the beginning of 2021, depending on European Food Authority (EFA) approval.

The EFA novel food regulation approval process involves animal and human testing and typically takes around two years, costing around €500,000 ($566,000), Vainikka told GTM. 

If it gets approval, Solar Foods will make an investment decision on commercial production and could move to large-scale manufacturing, producing protein for 50 million meals a year, within 12 months. “We are already able to scale,” Vainikka said. 

A full-scale plant would resemble a brewery, he said. Unlike a brewery, though, the microorganisms vital to the production process would feed off hydrogen and carbon dioxide instead of sugars from plant material. 

“This is a fundamental difference compared to any of the foods on the market, or technologies or ways to produce food,” said Vainikka. “This way, we can disconnect from land use completely.”

For the pilot plant, Solar Foods has secured a 100-percent renewable electricity supply, based on hydro power, via the Finnish utility Fortum. In future, said Vainikka, the source of electricity would not be crucial to the production process.

But for cost reasons and to help with consumer acceptance, the company would likely seek to power the manufacturing process with renewable energy, he said. “One scenario is you could make this food in deserts or in the Arctic,” he commented. 

“If we go to the cheapest electricity in the world, that is currently solar power in the sun belt,” he said.

Even with Nordic electricity prices, Vainikka said he believed the process could be competitive with mainstream soy, milk or meat production.

And based on a rock-bottom PV price of around $15 per megawatt-hour, it might even be competitive with monoculture soy grown for animal feed in South America, he said. “Surprisingly, this seems to work out economically,” he commented. 

Using hydrogen for food manufacturing would also be more financially attractive than using the gas for energy storage, he claimed.

Because a Solar Food plant’s electricity supply would be mainly used to create hydrogen as a feedstock for bacterial growth, the industrial process would be able to tolerate daily variations in energy. 

In a grid setting, electrolyzer energy consumption could even be set to follow demand curves so usage increased at times of lower electricity pricing, according to Vainikka. 

In March this year, Solar Foods bagged €2 million ($2.3 million) from Lifeline Ventures, VTT Ventures Oy and Green Campus Innovations Oy to perfect its food-from-air concept.

And in October, the company was selected for the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Program to develop a system for producing proteins on space flights to Mars. For now, Solar Foods is not claiming its products could replace foods altogether. 

However, said Vainikka: “There is a portfolio of these organisms, so you could have mixtures in the future.” 

Technically, the Solar Foods process could scale up to replace most proteins in the human diet, potentially eliminating what scientists see as a major stressor to the environment. 

Already, 40 percent of arable land is used for meat production, said Vainikka, and this is expected to grow significantly along with a rising and more affluent global population. 

The question, Vainikka said, is whether consumers will bite on a steak replacement that is nothing more than air.

Why Would SoftBank’s Vision Fund Invest $1.1 Billion in a Window Maker?

Greentech Media: Headlines - 4 hours 36 min ago

Why would Masayoshi Son's $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund invest $1.1 billion in View, a tintable-window startup?

It’s one of the biggest venture capital rounds we've ever covered and was announced earlier this month.

View’s “dynamic” glass windows can change their tint to let in the right amount of natural light without obstructing views. This small change can result in healthier and happier occupants while saving a significant amount of energy.  

The SoftBank Vision Fund (which includes $45 billion from the rulers of Saudi Arabia) has made even bigger investments in Uber (more than $7.7 billion) and WeWork ($4.4 billion) — but those are global-scale industry-disrupting companies.

Tintable windows seem rather prosaic in that light. 

But according to Erich Klawuhn, VP of product management at View, “It’s just the start in a series of smart building solutions” in what he claimed was a “wide-open competitive landscape” for the electrochromic window builder.

View’s foremost value proposition is boosting employee health and productivity, followed by increasing property value, and lastly, saving energy by reducing lighting and HVAC electricity use by up to 20 percent.

Still, a 20 percent savings in energy costs for a commercial building is more than significant, if the claim is true.

Dynamic glass

Electrochromic glass uses a thin film of metal oxides that change the opacity of a window depending on voltage applied.  

View’s electrochromic technology originated out of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab; it sandwiches a deposited layer of tungsten oxide between two panes of glass. View’s major competitor, SageGlass, was acquired by Saint-Gobain in 2012.   

Electrochromic windows can cost two to four times as much as a standard double-paned window, although the costs of shades and blinds are eliminated. There are wiring and power costs associated with dynamic windows, as well as the UL and code issues brought by introducing a new technology to the historically conservative building industry.    

Research and Markets pegs the global smart glass market as $3.12 billion in 2017 with a forecast of $14.24 billion by 2026, while the global market for construction glass is forecast as $115 billion by 2020.

View has raised close to $2 billion since its inception as Soladigm 11 years ago from investors including Corning, Madrone Capital Partners, Khosla Ventures, GE, TIAA Investments, Reinet Investments, DBL Investors, Navitas Capital, Sigma Partners and The Westly Group.

How do you spend​ $1.1 billion?

The $1.1 billion investment (SoftBank Vision Fund was the sole participant in the round) is intended to scale View's manufacturing capacity in Mississippi and continue development of new applications in security and longer-term applications like displays. 

View says its Mississippi-built glass is installed in 35 million square feet of buildings in hundreds of installations in North America. 

These windows can use their active, networked nature to serve as a platform for a number of other services.

And it’s these adjacent applications that could be motivating the massive investment in this company. 

View’s security product uses the already networked and powered smart windows to accurately detect and locate glass breakage — and then signal the customer.   

Traditional glass-breakage sensors use microphones to detect signature frequencies while View detects the loss of a circuit across its electrochromic layer. View claims that acoustic sensors can generate false alarms — triggered by ambient sounds.

“Bladerunner style” full-buil​ding displays?

The View system is one of the first powered and connected networks in a new building, according to Klawuhn, and once that network is up, “We can add other services onto the platform."

It’s a bit lofty, but the vision for dynamic glass is as a low-voltage skin that creates a digital network at the edge of the building. Working with Microsoft’s IoT software, View envisions a suite of air quality sensors, cameras and microphones integrated into its window frames. 

From there, it’s not that big a leap to a different way of interacting with a building. In a few years, a smarter building might recognize you and your HVAC and lighting preferences or respond to voice commands and your presence as you move through the structure. 

More cinematically, an active glass surface lends itself to use as a large outside building display a la “Bladerunner” or internal window displays a la “Minority Report.”

Klawuhn essentially told me to cool my jets. There’s some potential for displays, internal and external, but it’s not yet part of the product stack. What View does have are “many more use-cases and products” that leverage this low voltage and powered network early in the construction cycle.  

Global capacity could total 980GW by 2027

Wind Power Monthly - 5 hours 6 min ago
WORLDWIDE: Global wind capacity will grow by more than 90% between the end of 2017 and 2027, reaching a cumulative capacity of 980GW, according to new research by Fitch Solutions and Macro Research.

Hope is rational – Germany’s radical shift to renewables and efficiency

Renew Economy - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 20:50

German Energiewende demonstrates renewables transition can be economic and social success if it includes efficiency and a pro-active ‘just transition’ – policies that foster new businesses and jobs.

The post Hope is rational – Germany’s radical shift to renewables and efficiency appeared first on RenewEconomy.