Battery Energy Storage Systems help UK power efficiency

Nidec ASI, of Milan in Italy, part of the appliance, commercial and industrial motor business of Nidec in Japan, has won an order from the UK-based EDF Energy Renewables business for the installation and supply of a second Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), for use on the British National Grid.

EDF ER, a renewable energy developer, is a JV company between EDF Energy in the UK and EDF Energies Nouvelles in France. As a result of this new contract, Nidec ASI will act as an EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) contractor to supply the 49 MW BESS system that EDF ER is building to serve the National Grid, the British electricity distribution company. The contract, which follows closely after an earlier large-scale deal for a 10 MW battery energy storage system (also for National Grid) makes Nidec ASI reach a 33% market share in the British BESS systems market.

As renewable energy resources are more widely used – to reduce the environmental impact of power generation – investments in battery energy storage systems are becoming increasingly prominent. These stabilise the power grid by temporarily storing any surplus electricity generation, and discharging the saved electricity during power shortages. Last November Nidec ASI delivered the world’s largest (90 MW) BESS system to major electricity firm STEAG of Germany. As a leader in the BESS market, Nidec is committed to stabilizing the world’s power grids and contributing to realizing a low-carbon society via the spread and expansion of battery energy storage systems and high-quality state-of-the-art equipment.

EDF West Burton 2

The BESS will be installed at the EDF Energy West Burton site in Nottinghamshire, pictured above, to support the UK’s National grid.

Advertisements

Advances in battery technology

The opportunities for spin-out businesses and industries from university research projects are multiplying. The growth in this sector comes from the acceleration of technology in general, but also because the increased investment in education means there are a lot more research students, some with good ideas, but others just looking for topical subjects to latch onto for their research project. Also, industry has learnt that by funding some low cost university research, other ideas might emerge that might be of benefit.

A lot of attention is being given to new designs of battery, as there are some well-known major commercial projects where new systems are needed. First to come to mind would be batteries for electric cars like the Tesla. Here, low-cost, lightweight and relatively compact devices are needed, with high-power output and fast charging. Second are the batteries (or systems) needed to store the power generated by solar farms or wind turbines, during the hours when it is not needed, so that it is available for different times of the day. Possibly lower down the priority list are the small long-life battery systems needed for IIOT sensors and industrial sensors in general. These do not have the major numbers, or the (relatively) high price, so do not attract as much attention.

Eliminating standby power drain

So, it was all the more interesting to hear of research at Bristol University, in the UK, where Dr Stark and his colleagues in the Bristol Energy Management Research Group have developed an electronic chip that can switch on a sensor only when that sensor is being asked to provide or monitor data: for the rest of the time the chip and the circuits which it controls consume no energy at all. It may not be a new battery development as such, but it would allow a much extended battery life, by eliminating all stand-by current drain.

The principle is that the chip uses the small amount of energy transmitted in the interrogation signal from the system asking for the data, to trigger a circuit that switches the device on. The interrogation signal could be from an infrared remote control, or a wireless signal. The team developed their circuit using the same principles as those used in computers to monitor their internal power supply rails – to ensure the voltage does not dip below a certain threshold. The trigger signal uses a few picoWatts of energy, and a signal threshold level of 0,5 V, which is achievable from a passive sensor, just using the received wave energy.

The natural follow-on from this concept is that the trigger signal on some sensor applications could be derived from the event being monitored, such as a rapid increase in the sound or vibration levels of plant machinery. Also, for a security alarm, the movement of a hinge or similar could be sensed magnetically. Conventional power management techniques would be used to switch the sensor off once the data has been transmitted to, and acknowledged by, the monitoring systems.

Power storage

With solar and wind energy providing such a large part of the power used by the National Grid in certain areas, many ways are being researched to achieve power storage over the short term, such as 24 hours. There are already companies providing large storage systems with banks of conventional batteries, acting like very large uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. In Spain and the USA there are solar collector systems where the sun’s heat is concentrated onto a central collector, melting sodium salts: the heat is later used to drive a steam turbine. Further systems are being trialled where surplus energy is used to liquefy gases, or compress them in a high pressure chamber, later the stored gas can be used to drive a turbine generator.

A novel development of a battery cell reported recently is the use of a low cost electrolyte for use with aluminium and graphite electrodes. Dr Dai, at Stanford University, in collaboration with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute, demonstrated such a battery powering a motorbike in 2015, but the electrolyte was expensive. The new electrolyte is 100 times less expensive – it is based on urea. Dr Dai sees this as a useful solution for storing solar power, even domestically – maybe new houses will have such a system underground, and call it a “Power storage pit”!

This article was first published in the April issue of “South African Instrumentation & Control”, a TechNews publication. This journal is kind enough to publish an article from Nick Denbow every month, as a report on stories of interest from Europe.

New ABB inverter boosts solar performance

The new ABB PVS980 central inverter – an essential component in every solar installation that converts direct current (DC) produced in solar panels into alternating current (AC) for use by electricity grids – allows the amount of incoming solar power connected to a single inverter to be increased by as much as 40%: a dramatic improvement that completely changes the economics of a solar installation. Thanks to its increased power, the PVS980 inverter also means a site needs 30% fewer inverters than previously.

The PVS980 high power 1500 VDC central inverter is capable of processing more incoming DC power from photovoltaic (PV) panels through one inverter, reducing the total number of inverters needed on-site, which helps reduce overall costs across the lifetime of a solar plant. Central inverters are used for applications such as large field installations as well as large arrays installed on buildings and industrial facilities. Originally introduced at the Intersolar exhibition as a concept last year, the PVS980 is now shipping commercially and has already seen strong interest among customers, with a number of pilot projects in place. The new inverter is designed to seamlessly integrate into digital smart grids and operate efficiently, while reducing the carbon footprint of the installation.

ABB engineers have improved the compactness of the device, enabling a power density increase of more than 40% – making it possible to build large power rated inverters in the same physical size. Avoiding external air entering the critical compartments of the inverter, the equipment can operate from below freezing to extreme heat in 100% humidity without jeopardizing functionality. The very wide temperature capability offers full performance without derating at up to 50°C, in a waterproof and dustproof enclosure.

(c) ProcessingTalk.info

648MW solar project in India

ABB has successfully commissioned five substations to integrate a 648 megawatt solar project at Kamuthi in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to the national transmission grid. The project was awarded by independent power producer the Adani Group in 2015, and completed on schedule. The solar photo-voltaic project – made up of five plants in a single location – is the largest of its kind in the world. 360 MW from the solar project is currently grid-connected and at full capacity this facility will account for nearly 10 percent of the country’s current solar capacity of around seven gigawatts.

Adani’s 648 MW solar power plant

The Adani 648MW solar power plant

The project contributes to India’s vision of achieving 100 GW of solar power by 2022, with the overall aim of diversifying its energy mix to meet growing demand while minimizing environmental impact. As part of this plan, the government has issued a proposal to implement 25 ultra-mega solar power projects with capacities between 500 and 1,000 MW over a period of five years. The government of Tamil Nadu is also pursuing a solar policy which envisages a solar generation capacity addition of 3,000 MW.

“We are proud to support the country’s clean energy vision and push for solar power which demonstrates its commitment to sustainable growth,” said Claudio Facchin, President of the ABB Power Grids division. “This project exemplifies our end-to-end power and automation system integration capabilities and reinforces our commitment to the renewable energy sector, a key component of the ABB ‘Next Level’ strategy.”

The ABB project scope included the design, supply, installation and commissioning related to the solar plant electrification and automation systems. This includes two 230 kilovolt and three 110 kV outdoor switchyards to connect to the local transmission grid and will enable clean power supply for around 150000 households, based on average national per capita consumption.

ABB to strengthen the power infrastructure in Indonesia

ABB is to support the Indonesian state-owned utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to strengthen the reliability and enhance the efficiency of its Java-Bali transmission and distribution networks to meet the growing demand for power in Java, the most populated island on earth.

ABB will design, engineer, supply and install the substation extensions, including switchgear, transformers, state-of-the-art control and protection systems as well as ancillary equipment. The product scope will include 11 units of 60 megavolt-ampere (MVA) transformers, high-voltage air-insulated switchgear for eight substations, high-voltage gas-insulated switchgear for one substation as well as the replacement works and control systems for uprating the transformers in three other substations. Financed by the Asian Development Bank, the $11m project is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

@ProcessingTalk

(c) ProcessingTalk.info

Power and water for the developing world

In the Journal ‘South African Instrumentation and Control’ I provide a regular column  giving some commentary on the I&C scene as seen from Europe, wherever possible referring to items that could be of relevance to their South African readers. This was the story published in the May 2016 issue.

Some of the products created for the consumers in the developed world have had perhaps surprising benefits in the less well-developed countries too. One example has been the use of mobile phones throughout Africa, enabling the development of a simple banking and payment system.

But there are other engineering developments that are specifically designed for use by people living far from the normal facilities offered in an urban setting, and many universities, philanthropists and aid organisations are active in supporting these ideas. desolenatorOne such development idea from the UK is known as a ‘Desolenator’. This is a portable, solar-powered water purification system, designed to produce clean drinking water, starting from seawater, or polluted groundwater. The device is the size of a flat-screen TV and is equipped with rugged all-terrain wheels to assist transport: it can produce 15 litres of distilled drinking water per day, enough for one family to use for drinking and cooking.

The device uses a solar panel to produce electricity: a thin layer of the water to be treated flows over the photovoltaic surface, absorbing the heat also produced by the sun, and cooling the panels to improve their efficiency. The heated water passes into a boiler, powered by the electrical output from the panel: the steam is condensed to produce distilled water, giving up its latent heat to the incoming water flow. A small drain from the boiler discharges a concentrated dirty liquid stream.

The Desolenator device is claimed to have a life of 20 years, and requires little maintenance: it has recently won two Innovation Award prizes from the UK’s Institute of Engineering Technology.

Further harnessing solar power

Whilst the Desolenator shows one potential application of solar power, making electric power available from such a widely available source is a major objective in both the developed and under-developed world. This is particularly needed in areas without any other source of power at night, when it is dark, which is a slight problem. How can children do their homework, or study anything, without some light?

In the developed world there is a need to store the power generated by wind farms and solar farms, to make it available in periods of high demand, or when the wind or sun are not there. So there is a lot of research into storing large amounts of power. Hopefully some of this might spin-off and make smaller domestic or small village units available soon.

csm_Photoelektrochemie_219a069346At the Technical University of Vienna (TU Wien), current research is following the principles of photochemical cells, as used in nature, where plants absorb sunlight and store this energy chemically. The main problem was that quoted above, in relation to the Desolenator design, that at high temperatures, the efficiency of any current photovoltaic solar cell decreases. While the electrical energy produced by a solar cell can be used in an electrochemical cell to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, the energy efficiency of this process is limited, because of the high temperatures involved.

At TU Wien researchers have now developed new highly specialised materials, which form a photovoltaic that operates at a high temperature (400°C), so concentrated light beams can be used to produce a large energy output: currently achieving 920 mV. These cells use Perovskite metal oxide materials in the photovoltaic, which creates free charge carriers – electrons – that travel into the electrochemical cell. Here they ionise oxygen into negative ions, which can travel through a membrane, separating hydrogen and oxygen. Work continues to increase the power further and produce an industrial prototype, where a hydrogen cell would be used later to produce on-demand electrical power.

Other techniques

More conventional techniques, such as those having banks of rechargeable batteries, and even mechanical flywheel systems, are being installed in areas where short-term interruptions in supplies are common. But the spin-off from such university research will eventually lead to novel ideas to help the less-developed world as well.

When the wind does not blow….

If you have a large proportion of wind turbines providing the power to the electricity grid, maybe in parallel with solar farms, and the wind suddenly dies down at sunset, when the solar power really subsides, you have a crisis – just as the evening peak energy demand develops. This is despite the fact that through the day the wind blew hard and the sun shone, and there was a surfeit of green energy available.

The answer has to be that you store that daytime energy, and bring it out of the store in the evening. There is much research going on to find more efficient ways of dealing with this “peak shaving” to fill up the troughs in the supply. Back on 18 December 2015 this blog reported on the Yokogawa control system in Northern Ireland that drives a peak shaving system that puts energy into a big (mechanical) fly-wheel! Really ultra-modern technology successfully driving C19 mechanics.

So there is now a US press release that advises that AES Corporation has signed a deal with Eaton Inc, for Eaton to sell the AES Energy Storage technology in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

So who are ‘AES’ ?

As with any press release, it is difficult to actually understand what is actually available, and what it is based on. The ‘AES’ letters, undefined on their website, seem to relate to a company providing Alternative Energy Systems, wherever they might be profitable, be it coal, oil, gas, bio-fuels or other power generation methods. Their new offering is of the Advancion (sic) Energy Storage platform, which is what Eaton will be selling: “Eaton will supply the energy storage systems, provide support and ensure long-term operation directly to utilities, industrial and commercial customers, independent power producers and power system operators across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).”

AES says that ‘Energy storage has become a key factor in helping countries manage both grid stability, as renewable energy sources continue to be integrated into the grid, as well as peak demand, limiting the need to build dedicated peaking power plants and minimizing CO2 emissions. The energy storage market is therefore entering a new growth phase and Navigant Research (www.navigantresearch.com) projects that more than 11GW of energy storage capacity will be installed annually by 2020 in 22 countries.’

Installations in Europe

AES_Netherlands_Advancion_Array_-_Ribbon_Cutting

The Netherlands-based UPS battery storage facility, and staff.

Advancion systems have been installed in two arrays in Europe, located in The Netherlands and in Northern Ireland. These are described in a recent AES.com press release. “Advancion 4, released November 2015, is a complete, battery-based alternative to traditional peaking power plants and pumped hydroelectric storage projects that provides a dependable, smart and cost-competitive means to modernize power systems. It features best-in-class Advancion pre-certified suppliers, including Samsung SDI, who supplied the array with more than 45,000 batteries in its first Advancion deployment. Additional project suppliers and partners include the inverter supplier Parker Hannifin.”  So the Advancion system would appear to be a rather large battery-backed UPS.

The Netherlands facility will provide 10MW of interconnected energy, providing balancing services to the electricity grid in The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Austria via the TenneT system. In addition to the Netherlands array, AES recently completed its Kilroot Advancion Array in Northern Ireland, also providing 10 MW of interconnected energy storage.

AES quotes that it introduced the first grid-scale advanced battery-based energy storage solution in commercial power market service in 2008, presumably in the USA, and claims to operate the largest fleet of battery-based storage assets in service today.

(c) Nick Denbow, Processingtalk.info

@ProcessingTalk

US climate change contribution

….65 tonnes per hour of methane, discharging to atmosphere for 6 months!

The Climate Change conference in Paris, in December, was bracketed by yet more “once in 200 year” floods in Northwest England, and followed, or maybe even preceded, by the UK Government announcing the cancellation of CCS research support, and all subsidies to solar power. OK they are now rethinking solar power subsidy.

But the USA was already digging itself deeper into the mire by having a major methane gas leak in California. Already, the methane gas leak from underground storage tanks had been venting to atmosphere for two months when they sat down at the table. The problem is, current plans to stop the leak will take three further months, if it works. Why can’t the US machine do it faster?

So at 65 metric tonnes per hour of gas discharge of methane, this is 1560 T per day; 46,800 T per month; and 234 thousand tonnes over the five months of the leak, all things being well.

Now methane is 70 times more damaging to the atmosphere than CO2, so that means the leak will be equivalent to 16 million, 380 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere because of a leak that was not ‘controllable by the US industry involved’, from natural gas storage, presumably it was storing their fracked gas. We don’t get told the equivalent of this air pollution in terms of vehicle emissions or power station homes supplied with power: maybe we should measure it in terms of numbers of houses flooded, and cyclone casualties instead?

Actually, it can be measured against one of the biggest coal fired stations in the UK, Longannet in Scotland. Longannet power station is closing because it consumes 1000 Tonnes of coal per hour, say that is 4000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per hour. It does not have any CCS capture technology, so it is closing because it is a major source of European pollution.
The gas leak in California is 65T per hour methane, equivalent to 4550 Tonnes per hour of CO2 equivalent.
So this one gas leak is more polluting than one of the UK power stations that is now paying fines for its pollution emissions!
Are the US owners of this methane storage facility paying any fines for their climate damage? Does anyone in the USA care about this enough to put a major effort in to close the leak in less than another three months, maybe, if everything works like they hope?

See http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/107539/Massive-gas-leak-from-California-underground-storage-reservoir-causes-1-800-families-to-relocate.aspx?

January 2016 Update:

The leak rate has slowed considerably over the past months, and the Californian Air Resources Board reckon the total discharge to date has been about 83,000 tonnes of methane. They consider the well storage is being exhausted. This equates to 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. SoCalGas suggest the leak capping process will be completed in the month of March.

February 2016 Update:

On Feb 11th SoCalGas announced that they had completed the drilling down to intercept the base of the leaking well, and they had succeeded in plugging the flow with heavy mud followed up by cement. So the leak had been stopped – but it was probably stopped anyway, all the gas having been exhausted. 11,300 residents can now return to their homes.

More important is that attention has now been focussed on the problem of these leaky old wells used for gas storage, and the Los Angeles Daily News has the bit between its teeth and is turning investigative reporters onto similar stories. Main focus is on the Hattiesburg Gas Storage site in Mississippi and Lake Gas Storage site in Texas.