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Eamon Keane has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master's degree in Energy Systems, graduating both with first class honours. He has received the Institute of Mechanical Engineers Best Student Certificate, a Veolia Environment research scholarship and two IBM PhD... More
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maximumev.blogspot.c...
  • Energy Storage is Not Needed for Renewables Integration 17 comments
    Aug 26, 2009 9:38 AM | about stocks: ABAT, ALTI, AXPW, HEV, ENS, ZBB, VLNCQ, ULBI, ACPW, BCONQ
    There is a debate as to whether storage is required to integrate renewables. An understanding of the necessity for storage is important for investors in the storage space. Some protagonists for and against are:

    No need for storage
    "[Electrical Energy Storage] is not needed with current levels of renewable generation nor with renewable generation levels projected in the near term"
    Energy Storage FactSheet, Pew Climate TechBook (May 2009)
    “..even in this aggressive scenario, the model did not build new storage until 2024, when there were already 200GW of wind capacity on the grid supplying 15% of the nation's energy."
    “..energy storage is not needed to integrate wind energy with the electric grid..”
     “[Renewable Targets] can only be reached if renewables are smoothed and made dispatchable by energy storage.”
     “The need for storage to integrate solar and wind cannot be over emphasized.”
    NanoMarkets: Batteries and Ultra-Capacitors for the Smart Power Grid: Market Opportunities 2009-2016 (August 2009)

    "Alternative energy storage is an investment tsunami"
    John Petersen, Seeking Alpha (November 2008)

    Yes or No?
     On balance it is clear to me that energy storage is not needed for the foreseeable future. Storage can be broken into two types: large scale for bulk storage of renewables and small scale storage for intra-hourly changes. The main arguments promulgated by proponents of large scale storage suggest it is required to:
     
    • Smooth renewable output (make renewable energy dispatchable)
    • Reduce wasteful spending on transmission
    • Prevent the pollution from backup power plants
     
    Large Scale
     
    Smooth renewable output
    The argument goes that wind often blows heavily at night and is wasted. Thus we need to store it and make it dispatchable at times of peak demand. It is true that wind is variable however forecasts are reasonably accurate and wind output tends to only change gradually. This allows for the other power plants to be adapted to accommodate the changing wind so that very little wind energy is wasted, even at night.
     
    A 2008 GE Energy study for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) showed that if Texas had 15,000 MW (presently ~8,000MW) of wind that a 30-minute drop of 2,400 MW would only occur once a year and that such occurrences can be addressed by existing technology and operational attention”. Existing conventional coal and gas power plants regularly abruptly stop generating for mechanical and other reasons and this is handled by the current system.
     
    The current capacity factor of American power plants is approximately 40% and demand across the year varies by a factor of three from the low point to the high point. The variability inherent with wind and solar is not foreign to the current system and it is not a prerequisite that renewables be made dispatchable. Storage is not needed to manage this variability.
     
    Reduce wasteful spending on transmission
    The argument goes that building a 1,000 MW transmission line to link up a 1,000 MW wind farm from, say, the windy midlands to the load centres is wasteful because the wind only blows at the rated capacity a small percentage of the time. Better to build a smaller transmission line and use storage to store the wind energy when it blows heavily and produce a constant, dispatchable output from the wind farm.
     
    This issue was thoroughly investigated by NREL in a just published paper. It was assumed that the wind owner paid for transmission. Wind and storage were operated as one entity to maximise revenue using real marginal prices from different electricity markets. The storage was Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) priced at $750/kW. Limited storage was found to make sense when transmission was priced above roughly $350/MW-km. Transmission line prices using this MW-km metric have been highly variable in the past, with more above $350 than below. However the authors note that transmission costs are “extremely lumpy”, meaning the marginal cost to go from 800MW to 1,000MW will not be a proportionate increase due to the significant portion of costs that goes into siting a transmission line. Further discussion of transmission costs may be found here. At any rate, pumped hydro and CAES are the only technologies that offer the required scale in terms of kW and kWh.
     
    It is true that storage can defer the need for transmission upgrades by reducing congestion. However that is akin to putting a band-aid on the transmission line. Capital is all upfront for storage systems and the payback period is measured in several years, within which time an upgrade would most likely have been built. This can alter the economics of this type of storage.
     
    Prevent the pollution from backup power plants
    This is frankly a canard. Apart from the case of wind and storage being co-located to reduce transmission, storage is not just used to store wind or solar energy. It stores whatever energy is cheapest. Frequently this is coal and storage allows coal plants to operate at a higher level through the night than they otherwise would. The flip side is that wind and solar need to have backup natural gas plants ramp up and down which reduces fuel efficiency. However this efficiency penalty is only between 0.5-1.5%. A Netherlands and a forthcoming Irish study have both shown that all things considered, storage actually increases net system CO2 emissions.
     
    Small Scale
    Small scale storage can be divided into second to second smoothing (regulation/load following) and spinning reserve (responsive reserve).
     
    Second to second smoothing is not dramatically altered by renewables. Supply and demand of electricity must be almost instantaneously balanced. While wind and solar vary, the second to second variations are not dramatic, particularly when aggregated over a large geographic area. Furthermore the demand also varies as people switch lights on and off, for example. There is no need, and in fact it is counterproductive, for every single wind or solar farm to try and produce a constant output. Oftentimes an instantaneous decrease in wind will cancel out with an instantaneous decrease in demand. This leads to a fundamental principle that: “it is the net system load that needs to be balanced, not an individual load or generation source in isolation”.
     
    That being said, wind will increase the amount of regulation reserve required. The same GE study showed that 100 MW (a 20% increase) of extra regulation reserve would be required at the 15,000 MW wind penetration level in the ERCOT grid.
     
    There is the suggestion that the new storage technologies such as flywheels and batteries that can provide very fast responses are required. The CAISO  stated in February 2009: “based on analyses prepared by the CAISO thus far, [fast regulation products] are not [needed]”. CAISO were advised to take a technology neutral approach to regulation and to not pilot alternative energy storage devices.
     
    Following on from the second to second there is spinning reserve which can quickly be ramped up quickly and sustained for longer periods. At present both second to second and spinning reserve is predominantly provided by natural gas and hydro plants. These are capable of providing these ancillary services as renewable penetrations increase. There is no inevitability that other technologies need to be used.
     
    Alternative storage technologies such as batteries and flywheels will compete on a purely economic basis. The rules governing these non generating technologies are still being set. It should be noted that utilities are notably conservative when it comes to new technologies and that many of these have not proven themselves. In a follow up I’ll discuss the relative merits of the alternative storage options and the potential for storage in other areas. Investors in these storage companies should, however, not assume that storage is needed for renewables integration. Comments to the contrary are welcomed.

    Disclosure: No positions
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Comments (17)
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  • TinyTim
    , contributor
    Comments (1225) | Send Message
     
    thanks.
    This is interesting stuff which goes against the conventional wisdom.
    27 Aug 2009, 06:36 PM Reply Like
  • Eamon Keane
    , contributor
    Comments (311) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Tim, for most people it makes intuitive sense that because wind and solar are unreliable we should store them. In reality it's not required.
    28 Aug 2009, 05:21 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    engstudent, there are a lot of people, particularly Imre Gyuk and the EPRI staff who would disagree with your conclusion. Based on the discussions at Storage Week, the storage issue is much broader than smoothing input from renewables. The prevailing consensus is that storage on the grid should be at least 5% of generating capacity, regardless of what the source is. One of those "interesting but useless" tidbits was that Japan has gone way overboard and maintains storage at about the 30% level.

     

    The California Energy Storage Alliance did an impressive presentation at Storage Week on how the integration of solar and storage resulted in a higher investment yield than either technology as stand-alone. In the case of wind, short-term storage to move off-peak production to peak hours also significantly improves the overall economics.

     

    The big thing that utilities and others keep beating on is getting to five-nines, 99.999% reliability, because 2 to 30 second power disruptions in the U.S. cost something on the order of $200 billion a year in damaged equipment and lost productivity. When the reliability issues are coupled with the antiquated structure of the grid that results in significant congestion bottlenecks, the need for widely distributed storage resources to support the weak points is immense.
    28 Aug 2009, 07:12 AM Reply Like
  • Eamon Keane
    , contributor
    Comments (311) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » John, I'm more persuaded by NREL's quantitative studies than by Imre Gyuk's arguments. EPRI published a report this month on storage ($10,000!) the abstract of which stated:

     

    "To achieve commercialization, both distributed generation and energy storage must address several key issues such as lower installed costs, increased lifetime, and low maintenance costs."

     

    my.epri.com/portal/ser...

     

    That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement but you may have heard differently. Is there anything online you could point me towards?

     

    BTW, I came across a PHEV battery report ($10k) published this week which you may be aware of: "Evaluation of Emerging Battery Technologies for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles". It states:

     

    "The cost of lithium batteries remains high ($500-1000 /kWh) when purchased in relative small quantities, but detailed cost modeling of batteries done at Argonne National Laboratory for the various chemistries indicate that in high production volume (greater than 100,000 packs per year), the costs to the OEMs of all chemistries can be in the range of $250-400/kWh depending on the battery size (kWh energy stored). The lithium titanate chemistry is projected to have the highest cost, but it also will have the longest cycle life."
    28 Aug 2009, 12:14 PM Reply Like
  • renim
    , contributor
    Comments (1259) | Send Message
     
    rd.edf.com/fichiers/fc...

     

    what would the Japanese know? they seem to pretty aggressive in deployed energy storage (pumped hydro) and in research for large scale battery technology (NAS)

     

    ie Tokyo electric power company supplies 11% of it total power during peak from off peak stored energy. and that without stress placed on the system by intermittent wind or solar
    29 Aug 2009, 07:12 PM Reply Like
  • Victor Babbitt
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
     
    The question of whether we 'need' storage to integrate wind covers a multitude of issues. As John pointed out, certainly CESA showed the the economic model of storage integration. The question is not whether we 'can' integrate wind without storage, but what the costs of this integration is, and whether energy storage will be competitive in solving the problem.

     

    Certainly, battery storage costs would have to decrease, and with a new potential exceptions (A123 or Altair Nano), lithium plate batteries will not be part of the solution. We complain that people don't understand the difference between MW and MWh, but with batteries you have to include cyclability. What good is a battery at $200,000/MWh if you can only cycle it 1000 times to 80% DOD? A better metric might be $/MWh/Cycle.

     

    Now, NGK Insulators (our NaS) friends have supposedly sold 880MWh in FY2009 at their incredible $600K+/MWh.. what are we missing?
    1 Oct 2009, 02:07 PM Reply Like
  • Eamon Keane
    , contributor
    Comments (311) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Good comments, Victor. The point I was trying to get across was that storage is not NEEDED.

     

    The question of whether storage is desirable NOW is subtle. If storage negates the need to build a new power line for a long time, then the time that saves from having to deal with NIMBYs is certainly worth considering. A further wrinkle comes from the fact that if extra backup plants are required for renewables then the emissions of these plants, with 20+ year lifetimes, may be considered to be locked in.

     

    I don't think the economics are there for storage. If large scale storage becomes viable, though, then that would certainly accelerate the process of integrating renewables.

     

    The main purpose of the article was to address the received wisdom that renewables need storage for integration because they are 'unreliable' and 'intermittent'. The same terms can be applied to conventional power plants if you actually look at today's system.

     

    Many utilities dismiss renewables through the rhetoric that they are unreliable. Getting to 20% is a huge undertaking and can be done without storage so let's proceed down this path and then if storage presents itself economically, all the better.

     

    You are correct to state the metric should be cents/kWh/cycle, oftentimes all you hear is cents/kWh. A great paper with up to date info on costs and technology may be found here: (www.sciencedirect.com/...)
    1 Oct 2009, 07:09 PM Reply Like
  • BushyInOz
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    In small isolated systems, short-term storage is extremely useful to minimize diesel fuel burn for spinning reserve. Longer term storage can permit better use of solar or wind resources in hybrid systems. Yes the cost are high at the moment but so is the cost of trucking diesel fuel long distances and the environmental impact when you do burn it. When the luxury of a large grid and power interchange is not available, storage seems to make more sense.
    15 Oct 2009, 02:59 AM Reply Like
  • Eamon Keane
    , contributor
    Comments (311) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Hi, Bushy. I agree, that's a caveat I should have added. Places like Hawaii and other small islands have different economics than larger systems. Seekingalpha is fairly US-centric so that's what I focused on.
    15 Oct 2009, 06:35 PM Reply Like
  • PeterB
    , contributor
    Comments (48) | Send Message
     
    At least for California, the current hydro capacity (which provides something like 20% of the electricity) could be converted to pumped storage with relatively minor costs. The current water storage has to be enough for several months, while the storage needs for solar is just a few days (judging by my one-house-location solar system), and probably not a lot more for wind. Further, the combination of solar (highest in summer) and hydro (rains in winter) would work well. We can even get closer to restoring the pre-damming natural river flows (mostly in spring), and maybe help the fish populations recover.
    2 Dec 2009, 06:07 AM Reply Like
  • truthteller
    , contributor
    Comments (50) | Send Message
     
    Personally, I would give more weight to the head of energy storage over at Sandia, than ERPI. They have tested energy storage systems, understand the components and importance of reliability, while factoring them into the smart grid. If it deals with the grid, it's going through the department of energy.

     

    Here's an interesting quote from an article in the Christian Science monitor. "But the incident highlighted renewable energy’s Achilles’ heel: Intermittent solar and wind power requires backups. It’s not a big problem today with solar, wind, and other renewable energies supplying less than 3 percent of the energy needs in the United States. Yet it could be a big problem in the not-so-distant future." If you're a believer in renewable energy by default energy storage will be needed. Remember all that stimulus funding for renewable energy? My 6th grade algebra teacher said it best, "whatever ye shall do to one side ye must do to the other." If you are adding more renewables, you need to add more storage to ensure the grid's reliability. The link can be found below.

     

    www.csmonitor.com/Inno...

     

    John Peterson has written extensively about the importance of energy storage. You can find John's articles posted here on seeking alpha and other renewable energy websites. If you are the student, I would say John's the master on the subject of energy storage. He attends the EESAT conferences hosted by the department of energy/Sandia and has been following energy storage for years.

     

    Steven Milunovich, at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch been calling the renewable energy sector for a while now, terming the phrase sixth revolution back in 2008. Recently he said: " Storage today is a miniscule market with a cap of less than $2 billion. Although storage should take longer to ramp than did solar, the opportunity is substantial. The hybrid/electric automotive battery opportunity alone could be $20 billion or more by 2020E, supporting a market cap of $60 billion at 3x revenue, in our view. And that’s just lithium-ion batteries." He put it best: "Either way, eventually storage will be important to investors." The article is pasted below, for your perusal.

     

    www.businessinsider.co...

     

    Also, it's no secret that GE has been ramping up sodium battery production, albeit for hybrid locomotives. Some institutional investors buy clean energy funds with exposure to NGK insulators because they implemented a grid-scale sodium battery solution in 2007.
    16 Dec 2009, 03:20 AM Reply Like
  • shorty_is_screwed
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
     
    Engstudent, the NREL isnt the one thats actually going to IMPLEMENT AES (Advanced Energy Storage). Its the utilities, like PG&E and DUKE energy that ARE CURRENTLY implementing AES. This is from PG&E's SGIP program:
    www.pge.com/includes/d...
    California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) rebate program initiated in 2001 to reduce peak demand on the grid
    Scheduled to continue accepting applications through 2012
    Provides incentives for the installation of new, qualifying self-generation equipment installed to meet all or a portion of the electric energy needs of a facility (Large Wind, Fuel Cell, and Advanced Energy Storage Systems)
    Program Administrators: 1. Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) 2. Southern California Edision (SCE) 3. Southern California Gas (SoCal Gas) 4. California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)

     

    Now, you have to ask yourself........why would they not only create a subsidy for AES but create an entire program around it, if they thought AES when it isnt needed?

     

    Now....since the utilities will likely be the ones buying and implementing AES, I guess it doesnt really matter what the NREL thinks.

     

    On Aug 28 12:14 PM engstudent wrote:

     

    > John, I'm more persuaded by NREL's quantitative studies than by Imre
    > Gyuk's arguments. EPRI published a report this month on storage ($10,000!)
    > the abstract of which stated:
    >
    > "To achieve commercialization, both distributed generation and energy
    > storage must address several key issues such as lower installed costs,
    > increased lifetime, and low maintenance costs."
    >
    > my.epri.com/portal/ser...
    >
    >
    > That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement but you may have heard
    > differently. Is there anything online you could point me towards?
    >
    >
    > BTW, I came across a PHEV battery report ($10k) published this week
    > which you may be aware of: "Evaluation of Emerging Battery Technologies
    > for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles". It states:
    >
    > "The cost of lithium batteries remains high ($500-1000 /kWh) when
    > purchased in relative small quantities, but detailed cost modeling
    > of batteries done at Argonne National Laboratory for the various
    > chemistries indicate that in high production volume (greater than
    > 100,000 packs per year), the costs to the OEMs of all chemistries
    > can be in the range of $250-400/kWh depending on the battery size
    > (kWh energy stored). The lithium titanate chemistry is projected
    > to have the highest cost, but it also will have the longest cycle
    > life."
    18 Dec 2009, 06:55 PM Reply Like
  • Eamon Keane
    , contributor
    Comments (311) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » truthteller, thanks for the links. I've been reading John's articles for over a year now, he's the reason I came to seekingalpha in the first place. I respect his analysis. He approaches the subject of storage from a financial viewpoint and will be the first to acknowledge that he is not a technical expert.

     

    The people I want to be taking guidance from on this subject are electrical engineers. You'll note that Imre Gyuk's background is in theoretical physics. In the Christian Science article you reference, the CS monitor quotes the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' report. They also have a quote from a professor of chemical engineering. With respect, what would chemical engineers know about electrical power systems?

     

    The statement from Arshad Mansoor (electrical engineer) is much more reasonable: "Storage will need to be part of our portfolio if going to 15 to 20 percent wind at a national level". No one is going to argue with that. To reach 20% of wind at a national level would require 300GW and the target the DOE have set for that is 2030. The US currently has 26GW. That does not suggest an imminent ramp up of storage. You'll also notice that David Bradwell says that sodium batteries are currently too expensive at $400/kWh.

     

    Furthermore, the head of energy storage at Sandia and chemical engineers in general have a vested interest in the future of energy storage since many of these storage technologies are chemically intricate. Sandia National Labs is a company owned by Lockheed Martin. How long would the head of energy storage last if he said the future for storage wasn't too rosy?!

     

    There is an excellent article in the current issue of Power and Energy magazine. You can read it here: www.ieee-pes.org/image...

     

    It was written by 11 people with deep knowledge of electric power systems. They included 3 senior NREL analysts, 2 professors of electrical engineering, a director of General Electric and the president of Renewable Energy Consulting Services. It does a much more thorough job of explaining why storage is not needed than I have done here.

     

    They state: "The fact that “the wind doesn’t always blow” is often used to
    suggest the need for dedicated energy storage to handle fluctuations in the generation of wind power. Such viewpoints,however, ignore the realities of both grid operation and the performance of a large, spatially diverse wind-generation resource."

     

    The type of storage that the CS monitor article suggests - that you have dedicated storage for an individual wind turbine/wind site is a ridiculous waste of resources.

     

    Regarding your second link, Steven Milunovich's (degree in management) opinion about lithium-ion batteries for GEVs may well be accurate, but that wasn't what I was discussing here.

     

    If you read the above link, you'll realise that power systems are complicated and that they are not subject to superficial analysis such as wind=variable, therefore we need storage. I worked in a research group last summer run by one of the authors of the above-linked article and discussed the issue with PhD students specialising in the area. I also participated in a storage conference in November. You can find all the presentations here (www.sei.ie/Renewables/...). It was evident that investing in storage is a highly complex undertaking which involves modelling the future price of energy. Another point driven home was that storage destroys its own value. The more storage you have on the system, the lower the spread between peak and off-peak prices which erases the margin needed to profitably operate storage.

     

    Thanks for reading.
    19 Dec 2009, 06:44 PM Reply Like
  • Eamon Keane
    , contributor
    Comments (311) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » shorty_is_screwed, thanks for the link, however I'm a little underwhelmed by it. They require you to have a wind turbine or fuel cell to which you couple the wind turbine. If you read my last reply, you'll understand that I think that is an economically illiterate idea. In addition, the budget is a paltry $83 million. While Beacon Power and others are ticking along with a government funded MW here and a subsidised MW there, I've yet to see the large orders which would presage a storage revolution. John Petersen said the remarkable thing about a storage conference he attended recently was that there were no buyers.

     

    I've no idea why PG&E have that programme but could it possibly be because the CAISO allows them to reclaim the funds through customer charges?
    19 Dec 2009, 06:51 PM Reply Like
  • truthteller
    , contributor
    Comments (50) | Send Message
     
    Only time will tell. However, serious investors can make more informed decisions about energy storage at the department of energy, sandia labs, and John Petersen's articles. Eliaya Goldratt, author of "The Goal" instructs folks to focus on the constraint. If I keep that in mind, while thinking about the smart grid, energy storage is definitely a constraint, maybe the constraint. Any improvements in this area will move us closer to the goal of having a smart grid and investor profits.

     

    It's a little disingenuous to take my comments as meaning, when the wind does/doesn't blow we have to do something with the energy. That's not what I am saying at all, instead power must be regulated as you bring on more varried sources. Specifically, energy needs to be siphoned off and returned to the grid when needed, which they call fast storage like with flywheels. Your argument about cost is the only area where we agree, but admittedly I read it in John's blogs before reading it in yours. Scale goes a long way to solving those issues and the US government has made some significant investments in energy storage.

     

    These blogs ARE about investing and the readership is looking for opportunities to invest. You can bet folks at Merrill Lynch, Department of Energy and Sandia Labs have plenty of experts on staff, including electrical and chemical electric engineers. Plus the folks at Lockheed Martin are pretty savvy too.

     

    None of your sources have actually picked up an energy storage system manufactured by NGK, ZBB, Beacon Power and tested them. However, Sandia has tested and written extensively about those and many others. So, I find them far more reliable, even if they are headed up by a guy with a physics degree. For as much as I care, they could be headed up by the queen of sheeba, as long as she has good people working for her. The European Union also has a report out on energy storage.

     

    I am not necessarily reading your posts as much as putting a word of caution out there for novice investors.

     

    On Dec 19 06:44 PM engstudent wrote:

     

    > truthteller, thanks for the links. I've been reading John's articles
    > for over a year now, he's the reason I came to seekingalpha in the
    > first place. I respect his analysis. He approaches the subject of
    > storage from a financial viewpoint and will be the first to acknowledge
    > that he is not a technical expert.
    >
    > The people I want to be taking guidance from on this subject are
    > electrical engineers. You'll note that Imre Gyuk's background is
    > in theoretical physics. In the Christian Science article you reference,
    > the CS monitor quotes the American Institute of Chemical Engineers'
    > report. They also have a quote from a professor of chemical engineering.
    > With respect, what would chemical engineers know about electrical
    > power systems?
    >
    > The statement from Arshad Mansoor (electrical engineer) is much more
    > reasonable: "Storage will need to be part of our portfolio if going
    > to 15 to 20 percent wind at a national level". No one is going to
    > argue with that. To reach 20% of wind at a national level would require
    > 300GW and the target the DOE have set for that is 2030. The US currently
    > has 26GW. That does not suggest an imminent ramp up of storage. You'll
    > also notice that David Bradwell says that sodium batteries are currently
    > too expensive at $400/kWh.
    >
    > Furthermore, the head of energy storage at Sandia and chemical engineers
    > in general have a vested interest in the future of energy storage
    > since many of these storage technologies are chemically intricate.
    > Sandia National Labs is a company owned by Lockheed Martin. How long
    > would the head of energy storage last if he said the future for storage
    > wasn't too rosy?!
    >
    > There is an excellent article in the current issue of Power and Energy
    > magazine. You can read it here: www.ieee-pes.org/image...
    >
    >
    > It was written by 11 people with deep knowledge of electric power
    > systems. They included 3 senior NREL analysts, 2 professors of electrical
    > engineering, a director of General Electric and the president of
    > Renewable Energy Consulting Services. It does a much more thorough
    > job of explaining why storage is not needed than I have done here.
    >
    >
    > They state: "The fact that “the wind doesn’t always blow” is often
    > used to
    > suggest the need for dedicated energy storage to handle fluctuations
    > in the generation of wind power. Such viewpoints,however, ignore
    > the realities of both grid operation and the performance of a large,
    > spatially diverse wind-generation resource."
    >
    > The type of storage that the CS monitor article suggests - that you
    > have dedicated storage for an individual wind turbine/wind site is
    > a ridiculous waste of resources.
    >
    > Regarding your second link, Steven Milunovich's (degree in management)
    > opinion about lithium-ion batteries for GEVs may well be accurate,
    > but that wasn't what I was discussing here.
    >
    > If you read the above link, you'll realise that power systems are
    > complicated and that they are not subject to superficial analysis
    > such as wind=variable, therefore we need storage. I worked in a research
    > group last summer run by one of the authors of the above-linked article
    > and discussed the issue with PhD students specialising in the area.
    > I also participated in a storage conference in November. You can
    > find all the presentations here (www.sei.ie/Renewables/...).
    > It was evident that investing in storage is a highly complex undertaking
    > which involves modelling the future price of energy. Another point
    > driven home was that storage destroys its own value. The more storage
    > you have on the system, the lower the spread between peak and off-peak
    > prices which erases the margin needed to profitably operate storage.
    >
    >
    > Thanks for reading.
    19 Dec 2009, 10:31 PM Reply Like
  • Eamon Keane
    , contributor
    Comments (311) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » truthteller, I apologise if my reply distorted your meaning but I took your opinion on the need for storage from the following quote: "If you are adding more renewables, you need to add more storage to ensure the grid's reliability."

     

    Regarding cost, a person at the conference tested a wind turbine coupled to a ZBB 125kW, 500kWh battery. Their quote was (www.sei.ie/Renewables/...): "Battery storage in commercial industrial wind autoproduction applications is difficult to justify economically at present".

     

    He suggests that with cost reductions it could be economic in the "medium term". I wholeheartedly agree that if storage drops significantly in price then it becomes attractive. I wasn't talking about that in this article. You'll notice my last paragraph: "Alternative storage technologies such as batteries and flywheels will compete on a purely economic basis."

     

    Now if I can interpret your last post, we seem to be on different pages. You are talking about the smart grid, presumably with each person having their own solar panel or wind turbine. With that scenario, you will have congestion trying to export the power upstream so storage may make sense. However I was talking about the large scale wind farms and solar farms on the high voltage side of the grid requiring storage. I could give you my opinion on the smart grid, but that would be another article.
    20 Dec 2009, 08:23 AM Reply Like
  • William Davison
    , contributor
    Comments (168) | Send Message
     
    Its interesting Eamon, you don't mention the smart grid to help balance the load on the grid. Particularly in the UK and Ireland where periodically we get high pressure zones sited over us shutting down all the Wind turbines. With a HVDC Smart grid we can get backup from the continent and think there is a European study that suggested the a full European Smart grid would replace the need for backup. Companies like ABB are keen on this for obvious reasons. Also there is the European Commission's Trans European Networks - Energy (TEN-E) programme to encourage this with funding.

     

    If you mix Hydro with HVDC connections as the UK, Germany and Holland are doing to Norway, you can use Norwegian Hydro like a giant battery for Northern Europe. You don't even need pump storage, they turn off their hydro and use surplus wind from say Denmark and then sell hydro back when the wind drops.

     

    Much of your comments re backup are echoed in generator responses to a UK National grid consultation paper on the effect of renewable on the grid (Its on their website somewhere). What was interesting was most generators saw few problems with backup requirements for renewable's compared to the media coverage on the issue. If fact the only concern of generators seem to be that some existing backup generating plants would be very rarely used and some tariff changes would be required to keep them available.
    11 Mar 2010, 07:11 PM Reply Like
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