The Anonymous Widower

How Long-Duration Energy Storage Will Accelerate The Renewable Energy Transition

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Renew Economy, which is an Australian publication.

It is very much a must-read and although it was part-written by the President of Hydrostor, who are a Canadian long duration energy storage company, who store energy by compressing air in underground caverns.

The article gives some details on how investment is flowing into long duration energy storage.

We’re also seeing significant and sustained levels of investment in long-duration energy storage happen beyond Australia’s borders.

For example; Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures invested in Energy Vault to accelerate its global deployment of its energy storage solution; Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos invested in iron-flow batteries via Breakthrough Energy Ventures; Sumitomo Corporation invested in UK-start up Highview Power and their cryogenic liquified air storage system; and our team at Hydrostor closed a financing round including a strategic partnership with infrastructure investor Meridiam.

Big players like these, generally don’t back losers. Or at least they pour in more money and expertise, to make sure they succeed.

This paragraph also describes Hydrostor’s sale to Australia.

In 2020, Hydrostor’s 200 MW and 8 hours (or 1,600 MWh) A-CAES system was selected by New South Wales’ Transmission Network Service Provider, TransGrid, as the preferred option in its RIT-T process for reliable supply for Broken Hill.

They are also developing a large system in California.

With Highview Power having sold perhaps ten systems around the world, it does appear that long duration energy storage is taking off for Highview and Hydrostor, who both use that most eco-friendly of storage mediums – air.

The article is fairly scathing about developing more of the most common form of long duration energy storage – pumped storage using water. Especially in Australia, where water can be scarce. But with the world getting warmer, I don’t think we need to design systems, where all our stored energy can evaporate.

Conclusion

I agree very much with the writers of the article, that more long duration energy storage is needed, but that pumped storage is not the long term answer.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , | 2 Comments

Australian Coal Mine To Transform Into Pumped Hydro Facility

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on PV Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Australian utility AGL is transforming its operations in a number of ways, from restructuring the company itself, to building energy storage facilities for flexible distribution of renewable energy into the future. The company is also planning to build a pumped-hydro facility at a disused open-cut coal mining site in eastern Australia.

It is an interesting proposition to say the least to reuse an opencast coal mine for something useful.

It would appear to be able to supple 250 MW for eight hours, which would make it a 2 GWh facility.

But then Australia is a country, that needs a lot of energy storage as they transform their economy to zero carbon.

April 20, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , | Leave a comment

Tesla And PG&E Are Working On A Massive ‘Up To 1.1 GWh’ Powerpack Battery System

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on electrek.

This is the first two paragraphs.

For the past few months, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have been teasing a giant battery project that would dwarf even the company’s 129 MWh Powerpack project in Australia.

Today, we learn that Tesla is working with PG&E on a massive battery system with a capacity of “up to 1.1 GWh” in California.

It certainly, is a big lithium-ion battery.

  • It will be able to provide 182.5 MW for four hours.
  • It looks like it could be the largest  lithium-ion battery in the world.

It is worth comparing with the Castaic Power Plant, which is also in California.

  • This is a pumped storage plant.
  • It can produce 1566 MW and has a capacity of 12470 MWh.

This Google Map shows the plant.

Note.

  1. The power plant is also part of the California State Water Project, which transfer water from North to South.
  2. The low-lake is Elderberry Forebay to the East.
  3. The high-lake is Pyramid Lake to the North.

It is a complicated system that includes the Angeles Tunnel, which takes water between Pyramid Lake and the Castaic power plant.

It cost a lot more than the 1.1 GWh battery, but it can generate a lot more power.

 

April 5, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , | Leave a comment

Spanish Govt Approves Energy Storage Strategy, Sees 20 GW In 2030

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Renewables Now!

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Spanish government on Tuesday approved the energy storage strategy, targeting some 20 GW of storage capacity in 2030 and reaching 30 GW by 2050 from today’s 8.3 GW.

How will Spain increase their storage capacity?

Pumped Storage Systems

Spain already has a couple of large pumped storage systems.

The La Muela II Pumped Storage Power Station

The La Muela II Pumped Storage power station is based on the Cortes-La Muela Reservoir

This Google Map shows the dam.

In terms of generating capacity, it is about the same size as Dinorwig power station in Snowdonia., which is the UK’s largest pumped storage power station.

The Aldeadávila Dam

The Aldeadávila Dam is a 1243 MW hydro-electric power station with a pumped storage addition on the River Douro between Spain and Portugal.

This Google Map shows the dam.

It certainly looks like a place to visit.

Both these pumped storage station seem to have been converted from earlier hydro-electric power stations.

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn, that the Spaniards, were going to increase their number of pumped storage power stations.

  • Spain certainly has the mountains, with big rivers running through!
  • Bolarque dam already uses pumped-storage techniques.

Are there any other existing hydro-electric power stations in Spain, that can be converted to pumped storage or be upgraded?

Concentrated Solar Power

Spain has around thirty concentrated solar power or CSP power stations, either in operation, under construction or planned.

Some also store electricity as heat.

Spain is not short of sun.

Spain is considered a world leader in this technology.

This Google Map shows the Andasol solar power station.

The specification includes.

  • It uses technology called a parabolic trough.
  • A nameplate capacity of 149.7 MW
  • A capacity factor of 37.7 %
  • Annual net output of 495 GWh
  • a storage capacity of 1.123 GWh
  • The energy storage is based on a mixture of potassium and sodium nitrates.
  • The power station takes up an area of six square kilometres.

Will Spain build more of these CSP power stations or add energy storage to some of the existing stations?

Batteries

The article has this sentence.

the government wants to add large-scale batteries, behind-the-metre batteries — minimum 400 MW in 2030 — and make the most of the vehicle-to-grid technology, according to the document.

It should be noted that Spain has installed capacity of over 25 GW of wind power, according to this article on Wikipedia, which is entitled Wind Power In Spain.

These are some points from the article.

  • Spain has a lot of indigenous wind turbine manufacture.
  • The Spanish wind-power industry employs upwards of 60,000 people.
  • A central control centre for Spanish wind power needs to be developed.
  • There is little opposition to onshore wind, although perhaps somewhat surprisingly, there is some opposition to offshore wind.

After reading what Wikipedia had to say, it appears to me, that Spain needs a ;pt of batteries to support all these wind turbines.

The world’s second largest wind-turbine manufacturer is Siemens Gamesa, who are Spanish-based.

Siemens Gamesa have an innovation storage battery based on hot volcanic rock, which I wrote about in Siemens Gamesa Begins Operation Of Its Innovative Electrothermal Energy Storage System.

This gives a brief description of the pilot plant.

The heat storage facility, which was ceremonially opened today in Hamburg-Altenwerder, contains around 1,000 tonnes of volcanic rock as an energy storage medium. It is fed with electrical energy converted into hot air by means of a resistance heater and a blower that heats the rock to 750°C. When demand peaks, ETES uses a steam turbine for the re-electrification of the stored energy. The ETES pilot plant can thus store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. In addition, the storage capacity of the system remains constant throughout the charging cycles.

It was taken from this press release from Siemens Gamesa.

This page on the Siemens web site gives the nominal output of the system as 30 MW.

So it would need just over a dozen systems like these to perhaps be strategically-placed near large wind farms to meet Spain’s target of 400 MW of energy storage.

Highview Power’s liquid air systems would be another possibility, but I doubt, they’d perform as well in the heat of Spain, as a system based on hot rocks.

Conclusion

Spain’s plan seems achievable and could create a lot of employment.

It also seems to me, that their natural resources of mountains, big rivers and lots of sun are a great help.

 

 

 

February 11, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Spot The Battery

RheEnergise have just released this picture, of one of how one of their pumped storage systems might look.

They describe it as a typical small site after landscaping.

This is their description of the image.

This is an image of a small water works in Fife Scotland, you can just see 2 small water tanks at the base of the hill. This is an example of what a small High-Density Hydro project could look like after landscaping.

How many times have you seen a scene like this in the UK, Europe and all over the world.

They didn’t disclose the storage capacity of this system.

February 2, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , | Leave a comment

Holy Grail Of Energy Storage Receives Two Grants

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Off Grid Energy Independence.

This is the introductory paragraph.

RheEnergise is one of only a select handful of businesses to have been awarded grants under both the Sustainable Innovation Fund & the Small Business Research Initiative.

So what have RheEnergise developed?

The home page of their web site, is surprisingly detailed, unlike those of some other companies with new ideas, and not just energy storage companies!

This is the first paragraph on their home page.

RheEnergise is bringing innovation to pumped hydro storage. We call our new solution High-Density Hydro ™.

I think that is a good start, as although pumped hydro storage is well proven and the UK has the 1,728 MW Dinorwig Power Station, which has a storage capacity of 9.1 GWh, building new large pumped storage systems is fraught with difficulties and the technology has seen only modest innovation in the last few decades.

The next paragraph on their home page describes their innovation.

HD Hydro ™ uses our proprietary HD Fluid R-19 ™, which has 2.5x the density of water. R-19 gives RheEnergise projects 2.5x the power and 2.5x the energy when compared to water.

This means that for the same size of pumped hydro storage power station, you get 2.5 times the amount of energy storage.

Alongside a diagram of the system, the advantages of their systems is stated.

Projects can be installed on hills 2.5x lower than a project using water and still achieve the same power – for example, there are so many more hills at 150m than at 375m.

2.5x smaller, by volume, meaning dramatically lower construction costs, faster build times, easier reinstatement and easier landscaping – projects can be entirely hidden.

A very simple innovation has greatly increased the possibilities of pumped hydro storage.

The home page also gives a typical capacity.

RheEnergise projects provide 10MW to 50MW power and 2 to 10 hours of storage capacity.

These systems are in the same range as those of Highview Power, who are building a 50 MW system, with a five hour capacity at Carrington near Manchester, that I wrote about in Highview Power Breaks Ground on 250MWh CRYOBattery Long Duration Energy Storage Facility.

Both have the advantage, that they are easily scalable.

With RheEnergise’s HD Hydro ™, the size of the upper reservoir would need to be increased and with Highview Power’s CRYOBattery, more tanks for the liquid air would need to be added.

The Technology

I certainly agree with the principle behind ReEnergise, both mathematically and practically.

My interest scientifically, is what is the fluid they use?

  • Pure water has a specific gravity of one and everything else is measured with respect to this.
  • So aluminium, which has a specific gravity of 2.7, is 2.7 times as heavy as water.
  • Many of us will be familiar with mercury, which is a metal, that is liquid at room temperature.
  • Mercury has a specific gravity of 13.56.

It puzzles me, how someone has created a liquid, almost as heavy as aluminium, that can be pumped and handled like water, as it would need to be, to make a pumped storage system work.

 

 

November 12, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , | Leave a comment

So, What Exactly Is Long-Duration Energy Storage?

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Greentech Media.

This is the sub-title.

Everyone’s talking about it, and Californians are buying in. Here’s what you need to know about this emerging grid sector.

It describes what California is doing and the sector, with particular reference to Hydrostor, Form Energy and Highview Power.

The article finishes with a section entitled What’s The Catch?

This is the first two paragraphs.

The obvious barrier to a thriving long-duration storage industry is convincing generally conservative power plant customers that emerging technologies quite unlike anything the grid currently uses are safe bets for decades of operation.

Lab tests can reduce the risk, but nothing beats operational, megawatt-scale installations for proving that something works. That’s why the Form deal with Great River Energy is so crucial, as are early projects by Highview Power and Hydrostor. The big exception to technology risk is pumped hydro, which has been used at scale for decades. Those projects grapple instead with high capital expense and environmental concerns.

The article is a must-read and hopefully, this and more articles like it, will convince conservative energy company owners, regulators and governments, that long duration energy storage is the missing link between renewable power and electricity consumers.

At least, the current UK Government has backed two of the most promising British long duration energy storage companies; Gravitricity and Highview Power.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Energy Storage “Water Battery” Breakthrough: Look Ma, No Underground Powerhouse

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on CleenTechnoca.

Pumped hydro storage as used at Dinorwig power station or Electric Mountain in the UK is a good way to store electricity.

But it is expensive to build and one of the major costs is building a large underground powerhouse. This is Wikipedia’s description of the construction of the powerhouse at Dinorwig.

Twelve million tonnes (12,000,000 long tons; 13,000,000 short tons) of rock had to be moved from inside the mountain, creating tunnels wide enough for two lorries to pass comfortably and an enormous cavern 51 metres (167 ft) tall, 180 metres (590 ft) long, and 23 metres (75 ft) wide[10] known as “the concert hall”. The power station comprises 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) of tunnels, one million tons of concrete, 200,000 tons of cement and 4,500 tons of steel.

That is big, but on the other hand, it reportedly paid for itself in two years.

According to the article, a company called Obermeyer Hydro Inc has come up with a new design of pumped storage turbine., which eliminated the need for an underground powerhouse.

  • Cost savings of 45 % are claimed.
  • Reading the full article, I get the impression, that a radical redesign of the reversible turbine will be a game-changer.
  • I suspect, it could be of benefit in small countries like the UK, where pumped storage is expensive and faces strong opposition in certain areas.

It is also significant, that this appears to be successful innovation in an area, where it was thought we had reached the ultimate design.

 

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | Leave a comment

Sizewell C: Nuclear Power Station Plans For Suffolk Submitted

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on the BBC.

A few points from the article.

  • It will provide enough electricity for six million homes.
  • It will create 25,000 jobs during construction.
  • Sizewell C will be a near replica to Hinckley Point C.
  • It will generate 3.2 GW of electricity.
  • It will be low-carbon electricity.

As a well-read and experienced engineer, I am not against the technologies of nuclear power.

But I do think, by the time it is completed , other technologies like wind and energy storage will be much better value. They will also be more flexible and easier to expand, should we get our energy forecasts wrong.

  • We will see higher power and more efficient wind farms, further out in the North Sea.
  • Massive energy storage systems, based on improved pumped storage technology and using new technology from companies like Highview Power, Zinc8 and others will be built.
  • Wind and solar power an energy storage are much easier to fund and financial institutions like L & G, Aberdeen Standard and Aviva have invested in the past for our future pensions.
  • If you want to go nuclear, small modular reactors, look to be much better value in the longer term.
  • I also don’t like the involvement of the Chinese in the project. History tells me, that all pandemics seem to start in the country!

It is my view that the biggest mistake we made in this country over energy was not to built the Severn Barrage.

My preferred design would be based on the ideas of Sir Frederick Snow.

There would have been a high and a low lake, either side of a central spine, behind an outer barrage.

  • Reversible turbines and pumps between the lakes would both generate and store electricity.
  • When proposed in the 1970s, it would have generated ten percent of the UK’s electricity.
  • A new road and rail crossing of the Severn, could have been built into the outer barrage.
  • A lock would have provided access for shipping.
  • It would have controlled the periodic, regular and often devastating flooding of the River Severn.

Some versions of the original design, even incorporated an international airport.

  • The runways would be in the right direction for the prevailing wind, with regard to take-off and landing.
  • Take-off would be over open sea.
  • High speed trains could speed travellers to and from London on an updated Great Western Railway.

I believe a modern design could be even better.

  • The central spine and the outer barrage would be the foundations for a large wind farm.
  • There would also be a large number of powerful floating wind turbines to the West of the outer barrage in the Severn Estuary.
  • A giant electrolyser on the central spine would produce hydrogen, that could be used to decarbonise the UK’s gas network.
  • A power interconnector could be built into the outer barrage to connect Wales to the nuclear power stations at Hinckley :Point.
  • A cluster of small nuclear reactors could be built on the central spine.
  • In the intervening fifty years, we have probably learned how to build a barrage like this, so that it can benefit birds and other wildlife.

I believe, it will never be too late to build a Severn Barrage.

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

150 Hours Of Storage? Company Says That’s True To Form

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Power Magazine.

It is very much a must-read about the emerging technology of high-capacity and long term energy storage, with particular reference to Highview Power and Form Energy.

The article fills out a lot of what I wrote in Will The Real Form Energy Please Stand Up!

I also feel that there’s also an old kid on the block, when it comes to long term energy storage and that is new methods of deploying pumped storage, that I wrote about in The New Generation Of Pumped Storage Systems.

May 10, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment