energy storage

Former Secretary Chu Criticizes Clean Energy Plan

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Former Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu came out during a debate at the Silicon Valley Energy Summit criticizing President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan, because of its lack of support for nuclear power. Chu said he didn’t think energy storage could solve the reliability problems of wind and solar quickly enough. Said Chu at the Stanford University event, “We should make a Clean Power Plan that’s based on clean energy, not renewable energy.”

At issue, claimed Chu, is the question of baseload power, the core supply of reliable, round the clock electricity that is there whenever you need it.

Most critics claim that the only way to have renewables carrying a bigger share of the electricity load, is through the use of energy storage. Says Chu, “I don’t see storage coming in for more than maybe peak load shifting, maybe day and night. I don’t see seasonal storage. I don’t see all of those things you need for steady clean power.”

Berkeley professor Dan Kammen, debated back that storage was already economically viable in some areas, something that new nuclear is not. Said Kammen, “The dramatic ramp up in solar resulted in the dramatic realization that a diverse, decentralized system can provide the same critical features that we think about with a baseload highly centralized system. Not tomorrow, but in the time frame that we need it, it’s absolutely there.”

A Visit to Shams-1: Abu Dhabi's Unique Solar CSP Hybrid Power Plant

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - One of the first questions I asked upon arriving in Abu Dhabi, a very modern city in a very oil-rich country, with a very progressive stance towards renewables, was, why? Besides the obvious fact that unlike some other people, they recognize the fact that their oil won't last forever, and they want to participate in energy after it runs out. But there's something else, too. They would like to see an orderly transition that allows them to steward their resource to make as much out of it as they can.

A great example of that is the Shams-1 hybrid solar power plant, which is located 120 km southwest of Abu Dhabi.
Shams is a joint venture between Masdar of the UAE, which contributed 60%, Total, of France, (20%), and Abengoa Solar of Spain (20%).

This unique plant uses a combination of concentrating solar power (CSP) and natural gas which adds a bit to the cost, but gives it some unique capabilities, including the ability to produce power anytime at all, even at night.

During ordinary operation, the parabolic mirrors, of which there are over 258,000, that cover an area of roughly 2.5 square kilometers, track the sun and focus its rays on a pipe containing an oil-based heat transfer fluid (HTF), which heats it to around 400 degrees Celsius. The heated fluid is then used to boil water, the result of which is used to drive a fairly conventional steam turbine.Natural gas can produce up to 50% of the plant's rated capacity, though under full sun, it contributes only 18% of the energy input. This is done by superheating the HTF to 530 Celsius, a point at which the turbine runs more efficiently. This combination produces 100 MW, enough to supply 20,000 homes here. The power is being supplied to the Abu Dhabi Electric Company through a 25 year power purchase agreement.

Green Charge Networks Uses Storage to Smooth Out Peak Demand

Although everyone enjoys the numerous benefits of electricity delivered to their home, no one likes to pay the bills. Perhaps that's due to an intuition that energy is inherently free, or maybe we just don't like paying bills. In fact, it's the availability of energy that we are actually paying for, as much if not more than the energy itself.

Solar Grid Storage Saves the Sunshine for a Rainy Day

Fossil fuels like gasoline, or even coal, have a unique characteristic that we never thought about until we thought about trying to replace them. That is the fact that, not only are they energy sources, but they are energy sources that store the energy they contain, to be released whenever needed. That is not that case for wind power or solar. They do not come packaged with their own built-in storage capacity.

Or at least they didn’t before the folks at Solar Grid Storage, sensing a business opportunity, came up with a way to package solar energy and energy storage into an integrated system.

Combining technological innovation with business innovation, they retain ownership of their storage systems, providing storage-as-a-service to their customers. By maintaining the storage asset and dispatching power to the grid as needed, they can derive revenue from the grid support market, to help finance the storage assets. At the same time, their systems include the power inverter needed to convert the DC power coming off the PV arrays into grid synchronized AC power. This saves their customers the expense of installing the inverters, which all other grid-supported solar PV systems require.

The systems also provide resilience and stability to the grid, and they answer directly the FERC’s orders to grid operators “to develop and adopt programs aimed at creating and delivering fast reacting services that help balance power.” The net result is a more reliable grid, even during times of high stress. This is crucial to mission-critical operations and highly desirable everywhere else.

California regulators recently set new targets for energy storage capacity, recognizing the criticality of this capability to the continued growth of renewables, as well as the stability of the grid. A full 1.325 GW of storage, much of it from independent developers, is expected to come online by 2020.

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