Russia, which gets 20% of its electricity from hydro, plans to get another 4.5% from solar and wind by 2024. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said a plan is currently being devised to amend the country’s regulatory system in a way that will facilitate the addition of more solar and wind power capacity and lead to lower costs for consumers. The country has set a goal of 5.5 gigawatts of installed renewable energy capacity by 2024.

International law firm Pinsent Mason released research findings that 90% of electric utility companies around the world are actively seeking acquisitions or joint ventures with companies that implement smart energy technologies like storage batteries, vehicle-to-grid technology and smart meters. Germany, China and the UK were identified as the top three target countries for smart energy investment for utilities and investors. Pinsent Masons surveyed 250 senior-level executives from 200 energy generation and distribution companies (and investors in those markets) across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific.

The cost of battery storage for stationary applications could fall by up to 66% by 2030, according to a report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency. This could stimulate a 17-fold growth of installed battery storage, opening up a number of new commercial and economic opportunities. While pumped-hydro systems currently dominate total installed power storage capacity, with 96% of the installed electricity storage power globally, economies of scale and technology breakthroughs will support the accelerated development and adoption of alternative storage technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries and flow batteries. By 2030, the calendar life of lithium batteries could increase by approximately 50%, while the number of full cycles possible could potentially increase by as much as 90%. Other battery storage technologies also offer large cost reduction potential. High temperature “sodium sulfur” batteries could see their costs decline by up to 60%, while the total installed cost of flow batteries could potentially fall by two-thirds by 2030.

Britain’s first industrial-scale battery plant will come online in Sheffield this week to help the national grid cope with the rapidly growing amount of renewable electric power. The 10 megawatt (MW) facility, which is located next to an existing power plant, has the equivalent capacity of half a million phone batteries. Larger facilities are also under construction. Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, is building a 49 MW facility on the site of a former power station in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, while EDF Energy is working on one of the same size at its West Burton natural gas power station in Nottinghamshire. The utility-scale batteries are being built to help keep electricity supply and demand in balance, which is a challenge for the grid as more intermittent wind and solar comes online. Balancing supply and demand is essential for keeping the frequency of electricity constant at 50Hz across the UK. The ability of batteries to respond to demand in less than a second makes them ideal for the task. The storage plants  also be able to take power off the system when supply is unexpectedly high, such as on a particularly windy or sunny day while adding power when demand rises, such as in winter. Leon Walker, the commercial development manager at National Grid, said:

“Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It’s an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced.”

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said last week that Russia wants to be among the world’s leaders in energy storage. In August his ministry published a concept paper on the development of energy storage. The paper identified three priority areas, including energy storage systems for the grid; storage systems for utility-scale electricity consumption; and “hydrogen energy,” which means storage systems to be used in electricity applications that require autonomy, mobility, and zero emissions.

A 3 megawatt utility-scale energy storage installation is to be constructed in the US state of Massachusetts. Once completed next spring it will be the largest storage facility in that state. The batteries will store electricity from the Mt. Tom solar facility (5.8 megawatts, 17,000 solar panels).  That stored power can be called upon during peak load periods for the nearby town of Holyoke and the larger region.

Market research firm Technavio projects off-grid electricity storage in India will grow 15% annually from 2017-2021. Currently much of rural India is without access to the electric grid and use diesel generators and, increasingly, solar systems for their power needs. The report finds that more and more rural communities are using off-grid (stand-alone) power storage systems that provide power or electricity to the community. Off-grid systems can be deployed at a faster pace when compared with developing or extending the traditional electric grid structure.  In addition they can store intermittent solar energy for when it is needed, such as at night.

The South Australia government says it has received nearly 60 proposals from local and international companies for next generation renewable energy storage under its Renewable Technology Fund. The government call for more projects has attracted interest from a range of technologies, including  batteries, bioenergy, pumped hydro, thermal, compressed air and flywheel. The fund is designed to provide financial support for energy storage or other technologies that would allow wind and solar farms to provide electricity to the state grid without causing harmful power outages, as happened last year.

One of New Zealand’s main gas and electric distribution companies has turned to distributed energy storage systems as a cost-effective alternative to installing and maintaining long-distance poles and wires and related infrastructure to fringe areas. Powerco, which serves 300,000 customers on the North Island, has designed a microgrid solution for remote customers. The system combines solar (typically on customer rooftops) with 3.4 kwh energy storage batteries and a diesel generator for backup.

 

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