In the US city of San Diego, California the local electric utility has installed a new battery energy storage facility that will store up to 2 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 1,000 homes for four hours. San Diego Gas & Electric’s vanadium redox flow battery substation will store energy from solar panels and release it when resources are in high demand during peak business hours. The California Public Utilities Commission is requiring state utilities to meet a target of 1.3 gigawatts of additional power storage by 2020. Flow batteries get their name because they use liquid chemicals (electrolytes) that are separated by a membrane. The reaction between the two chemicals frees up electrons, creating electricity. Flow battery systems have an expected life-span of more than 20 years and could have less degradation over time from repeated charging cycles than other technologies. Vanadium redox flow batteries are a type of rechargeable battery that employ vanadium ions in different oxidation states to store chemical potential energy. Flow batteries work well with intermittent energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines because of their ability to be idle for long periods without losing a charge. In addition, they scale more easily because all that is required to increase capacity is more liquid; the hardware remains the same.
Research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (The “Global Energy Storage Forecast, 2016-2024”) projects that the annual investment in energy storage systems will increase six-fold to $8.2 billion in 2024. BNEF expects $44 billion to be invested in storage between now and 2024. Over this period, about 45 billion watts (81 gigawatt hours) of energy storage capacity will be installed globally, excluding pumped hydroelectric systems. The top five storage markets will be Japan, India, the US, China, and Europe. Together they will represent 71% of the global total for storage installed in 2024. Currently the largest market for energy storage is electric utilities. This will gradually transform to homes and businesses over the next decade. IHS Markit predicts over the next decade, lithium-ion batteries will become the mainstream energy-storage technology, with more than 80% of global energy storage installations incorporating this technology by 2025.
The International Energy Agency suggests some trillion dollars worth of crude oil and natural gas assets could be abandoned by 2050. The IEA estimates that a rapid change in climate policy away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, nuclear and carbon capture would leave a total of $1 trillion of oil assets and $300 billion in natural gas assets stranded.
German scientists turned on the world’s largest artificial Sun – the world’s largest solar simulator. The artificial light, created from 149 powerful short-arc xenon lamps, was tested last week at the German Aerospace Center near Cologne. The giant honeycomb-like apparatus can focus all of its simulated solar energy to a surface of 8 by 8 inches. By doing so, the surface would receive the equivalent of 10,000 times the normal solar radiation. The goal of the experiment is to improve the production processes for solar fuels, including hydrogen, which is seen to be an important renewable energy source in the future. The very high temperatures created will help the scientists to find new ways to obtain hydrogen. Hydrogen is considered to be the fuel of the future because it burns without producing carbon dioxide.