Energy Exchange

What Tesla’s Powerwall Home Energy Storage Battery Means for Texas

Source: flickr/genphys

Source: flickr/genphys

There is enough solar energy potential in Texas to power the world twice over. Yet currently we rank 10th in the nation (behind New Jersey) with 330 megawatts (MW), which is enough to power about 57,000 homes. Texas is a state of almost nine million households. That’s a lot of rooftops, and when you add the number of commercial and industrial rooftops, parking lots, and garages, we are talking about a significant amount of surface area.

Meanwhile, the cost of solar panels has dropped 80 percent since 2008 and prices for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have declined markedly in recent years, dropping 29 percent from 2010 to 2013. Moreover, jobs in the solar industry are booming –SolarCity is hiring significantly more people than leading tech companies like Twitter.

So, what will it take to energize rooftop solar growth in Texas? Well, a recent announcement from one of Texas’ “frenemies” may be part of the solution. Read More »

Posted in Grid Modernization, Texas / Tagged , | Read 4 Responses

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Utility-Scale Energy Storage is Promising

By: Ellen Shea, Analyst, EDF Climate Corps

ellen-shea-blog_blogI recently read a white paper by Chet Lyons of the Energy Strategies Group performing a cost-benefits analysis of utility companies purchasing battery storage systems vs. simple cycle gas-fired combustion turbines (CT). These CT systems are typically used to regulate peaking capacity. The article shows how storage systems can be a great solution for utilities companies to keep up to date with the changing trends in energy in the US.

Lyons states that as we shift to using more and more renewable energy sources (such as solar PV), the electricity grid needs to be able to be more flexible to the fluctuations in supply of wind, solar, etc. In other words, we have to be able to better support the peaking capacity of the grid.

The paper makes the case for using energy storage systems as a way to meet the peaking resource needs of the grid from renewables, and also as a way for utilities to recoup some lost revenues. Lyons examined a new flow battery storage system by ViZn Energy and found it to be more effective, faster, and more flexible than traditional CTs. Additionally, following solar PV’s trend of declining costs, he believes that in the next three years these battery storage systems will be cost competitive with CTs.  Read More »

Posted in Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy / Read 2 Responses

EDF Energy Innovation Series Feature: Intelligent Energy Storage That Makes “Cents”

EDF-EIS-emailHeader-2EDF’s Energy Innovation Series highlights innovations across a broad range of energy categories, including smart grid and renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency financing and progressive utilities, to name a few. This Series helps illustrate that cost-effective, clean energy solutions are available now and imperative to lowering our dependence on fossil fuels.

Find more information on this featured innovation here

America’s electricity grid was one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century. But it is showing its age.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that if just nine of the 55,000 electric-transmission substations were knocked out, the entire country could plunge into a months-long blackout. Power outages caused by severe weather events already cost the U.S. between $25 to $70 billion a year. And Americans are using more energy than ever – 2.3 quadrillion thermal units more in 2013 than in 2012, which is greater than the total energy consumed by Maine, Montana, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Delaware, and Rhode Island combined.

Fortunately, we know how to protect ourselves from this vulnerability: move away from a highly-centralized energy generation and transmission system to one that looks more like the Internet, with decentralized energy production and smart technologies that allow us to use power most efficiently.

That’s exactly what Green Charge Networks (GCN) is doing. Over the past few years, this Silicon Valley smart grid company has been building an intelligent energy storage system called GreenStation™ that reduces stress on the electric grid, reduces greenhouse gas pollution, and, the company says, offers customers a five-year return on investment. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization / Read 1 Response

Utilities Beware, Solar Power and Energy Storage Could be Coming for your Customers


Source: John Rae

The use of rechargeable batteries – in everything from iPhones, TV remotes, and even cars – has become pervasive over the past few years, especially as they have become more affordable. So why can’t we use them to help power our homes and businesses, too? The idea isn’t that complicated. But the cost of large-scale energy storage is still prohibitively high.

However, in select markets, like Hawaii’s commercial building market, privately connected battery storage is already cheap enough, compared to utility rates, to warrant installation. Furthermore, other energy storage markets, like California and New York, could reach the point of commercial viability in the next ten years – and not just for commercial buildings, but the residential market, too. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Electric Vehicles, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models / Read 1 Response

New Jersey to Make Grid Smarter, More Flexible with Energy Storage

Source: Carbon Cycle 2.0

Source: Carbon Cycle 2.0

Energy storage devices that collect electricity at times of abundance and deliver when demand is greatest are essential to upgrading our outdated power grid to a smarter, more flexible electricity system. New Jersey took a positive step toward implementing more energy storage earlier this year when its Office of Clean Energy released a proposal to allocate $2.5 million for incentives that would encourage more energy storage use. EDF recently took the opportunity to comment on the proposal, highlighting the ways in which energy storage can deliver added resiliency, environmental benefit, and flexibility.

Energy storage could be critical in next storm

Energy storage can help stabilize a power grid, which is particularly important in a place like New Jersey where Superstorm Sandy left a third of homes and businesses in the state without electricity, even five days after the disaster. Large-scale deployments of energy storage can reduce peak or high demand, when the dirtiest power plants are usually turned on, while smaller, community-scale energy storage, when paired with renewable energy like solar power, can keep the lights on when the electric grid at large goes down. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, New Jersey, Renewable Energy / Read 3 Responses

Energy Innovation Series Feature #1: Energy Storage From Xtreme Power

Throughout 2012, EDF’s Energy Innovation Series will highlight more than 20 innovations across a broad range of energy categories, including smart grid and renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency financing, and progressive utilities, to name a few. This series will demonstrate that cost-effective, clean energy solutions are available now and imperative to lowering our dependence on fossil fuels.

For more information on our first featured innovation, please view this video on Xtreme Power’s energy storage solutions.

Energy storage helps integrate clean energy into the electric grid

The electric grid today doesn’t look all that different from when Thomas Edison first envisioned it over 100 years ago. Walk into a utility control room today and you might still see the “red phone” that they use for emergencies.

Thankfully, power companies throughout the U.S. see real value in upgrading our grid with modern energy management technologies and energy sources that are fast, more flexible and cleaner. Companies are taking various approaches, innovating across the clean tech spectrum from renewable energy to communications to energy storage.

In energy storage, some are working on battery technology, which – though much more advanced – works essentially the same way as traditional batteries. You charge them when power is plentiful, and use them when it isn’t.

Innovative energy storage solutions in action 

Source: Xtreme Power

Xtreme Power is a developer of digital power management and energy storage solutions and is currently designing the world’s largest battery system (36 MW) for Duke Energy’s 153 MW wind farm in Notrees, Texas, which was jumpstarted by a grant from the Department of Energy.

Xtreme Power’s Dynamic Power Resources™ (DPR®) solution combines their PowerCell™ battery” with sophisticated digital power management systems to instantly adjust for imbalances in the electric grid. Xtreme Power describes its PowerCell technology as a “unique, advanced lead acid battery that can beat lithium ion batteries in terms of energy storage, efficiency, cycle life and cost.”

How energy storage helps

Traditional fossil fuel power plants may be dirty, but they hum along pretty consistently, so the electric grid is able to manage the flow. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind not only vary from day to night, but also might vary from minute to minute, making power management more complicated.

Energy storage systems help ensure that we get the energy we need when we want it, and make it easier to use renewable energy in our homes and on the grid by balancing out a the effects of a cloud moving over a solar panel or of the wind dying down.

One of many opportunities in a complex system

This kind of innovation provides value all along the entire energy system.  It can make renewable energy more valuable by making it more predictable, and stabilizing the grid for far less money than larger infrastructure projects, all while helping us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

When most people think of clean energy, they think of hybrid cars and solar panels. The truth is that there are countless opportunities along the supply chain for innovation, from the gears and ball bearings that improve the efficiency of wind turbines, to technology driven systems like Xtreme Power’s power management products.

Posted in Energy Innovation, General / Read 1 Response