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Batteries redox flow battery Fraunhofer

Published on March 19th, 2013 | by James Ayre

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Energy Storage Breakthrough: Large And Powerful Redox Flow Battery Developed

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March 19th, 2013 by  

A breakthrough has been made in the field of renewable energy battery storage. Researchers have developed a redox flow battery that reaches a stack power of up to 25 kW. This breakthrough in battery technology is important because it will allow the energy from intermittent sources of power, such as most renewables, to be more efficiently stored for later use. The new redox batteries are eight times larger than the systems currently in use, which are only capable of generating 2.3 kW of electricity, so it’s a significant increase in capability.

redox flow battery Fraunhofer

Image Credit: © Fraunhofer UMSICHT

With Germany’s stated goal of being powered 100% by renewable energy by 2050, big improvements in energy storage would be very helpful, offering a means to balance out periodic fluctuations in the energy supplied by wind and solar. With this in mind, researchers from Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft set out to dramatically increase the size and capacity of the redox flow batteries that are currently commercially available, and they succeeded. The new battery is a significant improvement, capable of providing up to 25 kW of electricity. The prototype currently has an efficiency of up to 80%, and “can take a load of up to 500 amps of current.”


 
The improvements leading the battery were possible primarily as a result of “testing new membrane materials and researching battery management and battery design,” the researchers add. “Flow simulations helped them to optimize the cell structure. A complete redesign of the battery followed which enabled the Fraunhofer team to make their breakthrough.”

The next objective for the researchers is the development of a battery with a capacity of 100 kW.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • http://profiles.google.com/nrghound Walter Rose

    The problem really boils down to supplying a continuous load with variable resources such as solar and wind. The amount of power being generated is almost never going to match demand, so you need to figure out what to do when there’s too much power, and not enough power. Right now the percentage of variable resources on the US grid is manageable; we can still maintain voltage and frequency stability. As that percentage increases, however, they’re going to start running in to the same types of problems we’re having in Alaska today. For those not fortunate enough to have a pumped hydro facility nearby, that’s where batteries come in, but they’re only part of the puzzle.
    In the context of the numerous small isolated mini-grids we have in Alaska any storage technology that is reliable and cost effective is welcome. Kotzebue Electric Association (KEA) received funding from the Alaska Emerging Energy Technology Grant Fund to test a rather large Redox Flow Battery a while back; I am not privy to the details, but apparently the test was not a success. Nobody is giving up. Research continues at University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Center for Energy & Power, and at other places in Alaska.

    Background: I work with 15 remote isolated Native Villages in the Bering Strait Region of Western Alaska. Each operates a separate diesel mini-grid to provide electricity to populations ranging in size from about 150 to 1,200. These communities are extremely remote. There is no road system or utility grid. The average cost of electricity is more than $0.50 / kWh (I don’t have the exact numbers at my finger tips), fuel oil and gasoline average more than $6.00 / gallon.

    The majority of these communities have good to excellent wind resources, but when you try and provide more than about 25% of electricity using the wind things start getting technically challenging. If a large redox flow battery were to work, it would help a lot! Excess wind could be stored for when it’s needed. As I said, lots of other technologies also come into play. It’s a complex and technically challenging situation.

    • Bob_Wallace

      There are grids managing quite well with 40% of their power coming from “variable” renewables.

      All supply is variable. One never knows when a coal or nuclear plant will go offline. And when they do that’s Big Variable.

      As well load/demand is constantly varying.

      All grids are built with sufficient over capacity to handle supply variability, a mainly renewable grid will be the same.

      The question will be whether to overbuild wind/solar capacity and curtail unneeded generation at times or to build more storage. That will be an ongoing decision and will adjust as the price of generation and storage changes.

      Small, isolated grids as you describe will have the most difficult job of meeting demand as their “harvest” area is small which leads to more variability and they can’t swap power with surrounding grids.

      I’m hoping that Ambri’s liquid metal battery continues to prove itself. Apparently it is working well in prototype and they’re moving toward manufacturing. If it works as it might then storage issues should be moot.

      I would think that in Alaska people would be aggressively pursuing geothermal. In addition to 24/365 power the waste heat would be very valuable.

  • Hans

    “Breakthrough” is a word that has undergone quit some inflation. I would call it an incremental improvement.

    • Hans

      By the way: this is not a bad thing. To the opposite, real-life technology development works by stacking a whole lot of minor improvement on top of each other.

  • jlmur

    What might make a good article is if someone summarized and explained the discussions and arguments going on in these posts. (expose?)

  • Pingback: San Diego Loves Green – Energy Storage Breakthrough: up to 25kw now!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jouni-Valkonen/736198505 Jouni Valkonen

    Only thing that matters with grid level batteries is the cost per kWh AND the cycle life of battery. Both of these basic facts were neglected from this story. Typically the cost of batteries is about $400 per kWh and cycle life can last up to 7 years. Is this cheaper or more expensive?

    • Bob_Wallace

      There’s some information that suggests that the current manufacturing cost of lithium batteries is around $250/kWh. And there are lithium batteries (Toshiba SCiB) that still hold more than 80% of original capacity after 6,000 cycles.

      6,000 cycles at one cycle per day would mean a 16 year useful life. Or likely much longer as real estate for grid batteries is cheap.

      Or, if batteries are cycled twice most days, once for nighttime wind and once for daytime solar, these batteries would have an 8+ year useful life expectancy.

      $250/kWh and 6,000 cycles would mean about $0.04/kWh storage. Plus balance of system costs, etc. That starts to get us into a range where cheap wind and solar could provide the bulk of our energy without the overall cost of electricity rising. (Assuming full accounting for coal.)

      • slean guy

        lithium is not good for storage , only frequency regulation. Name me one lithium battery system that has run 6000 cycles and not been replaced at some point

        • Bob_Wallace

          Toshiba’s SCiB lithium battery is rated at 6,000 cycles. That means that they’ve tested it and found that it cycled more than 6k times and retained greater than 80% capacity.

          You can see the spec sheet here…

          http://www.toshiba.com/ind/data/tag_files/SCiB_Brochure_5383.pdf

          If you look at the discharge capacity chart you will be able to see, especially with the curve flattening, that the battery will still be performing above the 80% well past 6k cycles. That’s assuming the battery has no calendar life issue.

          Toshiba is a major company. They are selling the SCiB, not talking about something they might bring to market.

          Their SCiB is being used in the Honda FiT EV and Mitsubishi EV.

          • slean guy

            Bob, dont believe the hype from someones test labs. its called called bench level testing. I can tell you for a fact it does not work in real world conditions with frequent charging and discharging. not only that, it is inherently a a fire hazard. i have first hand knowledge of lithium battery testing by PJM the northeast grid operator. the batteries failed within an hour of operations and were very expensive to operate versus some other battery types which I will not name. Any knowledgeable battery guy will tell you about the many failures of lithium in real world conditions. wind developers out in California were looking for alternatives as recent as last year. How do I know? they were trying to contact me for alternatives either directly or third parties. think about it wind is a real paet of our generating fleet yet lithium as a storage for the energy is not dominating the market for storage . as a matter of fact people are backing away from it. The materials science magazine has all types of articles on lithium cycling and none of their studies show what you are talking about just the opposite

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’ve got a major corporation stating that the battery they are marketing is good for more than 6,000 100% DoD cycles.

            Were this some unknown company then I’d be suspicious.

            Right now I’ve got Toshiba’s word against yours and I have no idea who you are or what dog you’ve got in the fight.

          • slean guy

            Bob, you are kidding right? major company makes it true? that is why i did not refer you to any other company or technology (independent third party) the journals for scientific materials and metals are as about as transparent as you can get (peer reviews) from people who have not even a leash in the fight. just pull it down and read the technical white papers and get back to me. you don’t even have to go that far just type in lithium battery cycle in google; better yet lithium battery failures and why they are prone to fires (hydrocarbon based ) ? i have a number of research pdf ‘s which i may post here that will show you different cycles

          • Bob_Wallace

            A googling of “lithium battery cycle” didn’t enlighten me. Googling “lithium battery failures” told me what I already knew – if you expose them to high temperatures or short them out they will burn. Gasoline also burns.

            Perhaps if you put up something other than “take my word for it:” you might stand a better chance of making your point.

            We get a constant stream of people showing up here who talk through their neither regions.

          • slean guy

            you know nothing about the battery chemistry of lithium. it is not exposure of high temperatures that is the problem it is due to the high energy content of the cells that high temperatures are created resulting in thermal runaway and that is due to the batteries potential. in other words it is inherent and it aint going away therefore all you can do is management it. stay away from books or articles you are clueless, by the way the failure rate you cited is bogus. under real world storage application with daily cycling and frequent discharge they suck. i do not need to cite anything when i have first hand knowledge of the testing. the market plce is also saying they suck no serious battery person will tell you lithium is the future of transportation and specifically storage applications for utility use

          • Bob_Wallace

            You have a very high opinion of yourself but you give no information that would lead anyone else to share it.

            Unsupported claims carry no weight.

            BTW, throw a couple of lithium ion batteries in a fire and see if they burn.

          • slean guy

            yes i do because i am knowledgeable in the area of batteries for energy storage; and you keep citing information frm sources with a vested interest. obviously you do not read and comprehend well either; go back to my statement about thermal runaway. i said nothing about an external heat source as of matter of fact i dispel d your theory about external heat. the battery cells and or systems do contain hydrocarbon materials. you are just some ball buster who knows nothing. there are many reasons a lithium battery will not cycle that long without cell failure and 20% cell loss is a lot when you may only use 50% depth of discharge (DOD)to get average performance from the battery. the # of cycles are a function of DOD and a best case scenario using 50% is maybe 3000. that is really not worth using the battery if DOD is any less. even at that rate lithium is too expensive to consider as a battery of the future

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s what Toshiba states on their spec sheet for the SCiB.-

            Long Life Cycle Characteristics – Exceptional long life is achieved by using new oxide-based materials. Capacity loss after 6,000 charge-discharge cycles is less than 20%.

            Inherently Safe – The battery’s advanced safety features include Toshiba’s proprietary lithiumtitanate technology which prevents thermal runaway.

            Fast Charge Rates – Capable of full recharge in <10 minutes (160 A, 8C charge rate), SCIB™ batteries increase customer up-time and productivity and enable efficient capture of regen energy.

            Greater Usable Capacity – The battery provides up to a 100% usable range of SOC without compromising cycle life. This allows the customer to use more of the rated capacity and therefore use a smaller battery.

            High Output Performance – SCiB™ batteries offer a power density nearly equivalent to that of ultra-capacitors. This ensures sufficient power output (160 A continuous) for high power application needs.

            Superb Temperature Performance – The battery excels at temperatures as low as −30°C and up to 55°C. This provides excellent application performance in extreme environmental conditions.

            Production – Producing the batteries on a state-of-the-art automated high volume production line

            ensures that the customer receives the highest quality battery and stable supply to meet the most demanding application needs.

            http://www.toshiba.com/ind/data/tag_files/SCiB_Brochure_5383.pdf

            That's from a very major corporation which one would not expect to open itself to large and damaging lawsuits if their product does not perform as advertised.

            And we've got two major automobile manufacturing companies using those Toshiba batteries in their EVs. It's hard to identify a company which puts more emphasis on quality than does Honda.

            A web search for SCiB failure or fire turns up nothing.

            Then, on the other side of the argument, we have someone who doesn't even post under their own name, and has nothing whatsoever to establish themselves as a credible source, claim that Toshiba is lying.

            Who's a feller to believe?

          • slean guy

            then this battery should be dominating the world of energy storage
            (B*& C#^+) dude you are too easily fooled..

          • Bob_Wallace

            Perhaps, but I’m still skeptical in your case…. ;o)

          • Andrew me

            well said .

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            takes time to dominate a $10-billion market. http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/22/lux-research-next-generation-batteries-eye-slice-of-10b-li-ion-market/

            man, all of us humans are going to be very disappointed when we realized we were duped buying cell phones, tablets, computers, and EVs using lithium-ion batteries. i wonder when billions of people will wake up and see the light.

          • slean guy

            depends on what market you are referring to. the transportation ? storage? i am referring to. grid storage therefore i question their stated testing in lab conditions and not real world. there have been none installed long enough in the field to be quoting things as fact

          • Bob_Wallace

            So now we’re playing chase stean’s goalpost?

            Here’s your first post…

            “lithium is not good for storage , only frequency regulation. Name me one lithium battery system that has run 6000 cycles and not been replaced at some point”

            Named.

            And now you’re insisting that you be shown installation data for a product that’s only a year old and would take a decade to prove itself in a real world application?

          • slean guy

            no we are not. that is the difference between bench modeling (proof of concept) demonstration then commercialization. its called validation (real world). there are a number of variables that affect life cycle and capacity. the information you have posted on here has been modeling not real world and none of the information explains any technology breakthrough that addresses capacity fade which is one component which affects life cycle. the energy density is so low on these types of batteries that they make no sense in certain applications even if 50% of what you state is true. there are other battery technologies which have better architecture (separate power / energy ratings) for grid storage

          • Otis11

            Ok, you have an audience. I’m an electrical engineer with a good background in Chemistry. To be honest, though, I am not highly versed in different battery technology.

            First, you reference some googling – Could I bother you to link the articles you mention? For arguments sake, my googling/your googling/Bob’s googling may all end up different.

            Second – Teach me. Honestly – I’d love to learn this stuff. I’m passionate about technology, but if we’re pursuing the wrong ends with Li-ion, that’s fine, let’s chase something else. I just want to know.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            seriously, what is your agenda? you have dropped 0 references to useful articles, peer reviewed or not. you want us to simply take your word that a $10-billion market* is based on a technology we shouldn’t touch with a 10-ft pole? i’ve got experience stubbing my toe on a door, but i think doors are still pretty darn useful and aren’t going anywhere. that said, i’m not selling an alternative to doors.

            * http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/22/lux-research-next-generation-batteries-eye-slice-of-10b-li-ion-market/

          • Bob_Wallace

            . “There’s a lot of mythology in the area of lithium-ion battery safety,” says Brian M. Barnett, a battery safety specialist at Lexington, Mass.-based technology development firm Tiax. Failure rates for rechargeable Li-ion batteries are on the order of one in 10 million cells, he says. “That’s not a reliability problem. It’s an exception.”

            http://cen.acs.org/articles/91/i6/Assessing-Safety-Lithium-Ion-Batteries.html

          • slean guy

            you are joking right ? you keep citing articles or companies with a vested interest in lithium batteries. shame on you, tell that to the many utility installations that have caught fire or failed for one reason or another. Lithium a hydrocarbon based metal (flammable). thermal runaway (ignition) charge discharge (boom)

          • Bob_Wallace

            I should only post information from companies and people who are pushing non-lithium ion products?

            The fact is, there are billions of lithium ion batteries in use today and we aren’t burning down our houses and offices with them. There are lithium ion battery powered EVs and PHEVs on the road and they aren’t bursting into flame.

            Yes, lithium can burn. Yes, there have bee a few cases of lithium batteries in laptops catching fire but, as I posted, it is an extremely improbable event and seems largely to be a problem we have moved past.

            Yes, lithium batteries have to be properly charged and properly protected against runaway discharged.

            Fact is, lithium batteries are the best we have today and promise to improve over time. If something better comes to market then we will switch. At this point there is no proven non-flammable candidate to take lithium ion’s place.

          • Andrew me

            Bob i think in this debate you won the argument very clearly actually, I hate when people ask for evidence or links to research and then when you provide it they start going on about how biased it is, with people like that you cannot win. It is far better to ignore them and let them troll someone else. I for one do not believe half of what i read on the internet but you have provided two different sources for your argument and i think that is more than enough to show that you have at least investigated the situation,unlike your opponent who seem to just want an argument.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Exactly. For some people, their whole goal is achieved if they simply create doubt. If they do not actually provide any facts or evidence or useful information, it does not matter. And these people love to ask for sources but really don’t like to supply any.

          • slean guy

            like i said , PJM inside information they failed horribly and were not as quick to charge and discharge as some other technologies. the major thing was the cost to operate is not what is being reported either (much higher)

  • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

    Ok, so there is something special? Then perhaps the following points should be addressed to explain and contrast what makes this announcement special.

    From http://www.mpoweruk.com/redox.htm:

    Redox Batteries
    Characteristics
    The Redox battery is an example of both a Flow Battery and a two electrolyte system. In this case, it depends on two different active aqueous electrolytes of vanadium dissolved in sulfuric acid separated by a membrane at which ionic interchange takes place. The chemical reactions take place on inert graphite electrodes stacked in a bipolar configuration. The electrolytes are stored externally from the battery and must be pumped through the cell for the chemical action to take place.

    Sloping discharge characteristic with output voltage varying from 1.5 to 1.0 Volts

    The name Redox is a contraction of the terms “Reduction” and “Oxidation”. Although these particular batteries are named after this chemical reaction, the Redox action is common to most all Galvanic cells.

    Advantages
    Very high power output (Tens of kiloWatts)
    Fast recharge by replacing spent electrolyte
    Capable of long life due to replacement of electrolyte.
    Can be fully discharged
    Use non toxic materials

    Shortcomings
    Complex.
    Low energy density
    Little commercial take up to date

    Applications
    Suitable for high power rechargeable storage systems in applications such as load levelling.

    Costs
    High costs since little progress from experimental systems to high volume applications.

    • Bob_Wallace

      This breakthrough in battery technology is important because it will allow the energy from intermittent sources of power, such as most renewables, to be more efficiently stored for later use. The new redox batteries are eight times larger than the systems currently in use, which are only capable of generating 2.3 kW of electricity, so it’s a significant increase in capability.
      Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/19/energy-storage-breakthrough-large-and-powerful-redox-flow-battery-developed/#qRUXpm21ju06cBoL.99

      • Shiggity

        Many people are confused on how the electric grid is going to work over the next 20 years. The ‘best battery’ for solar and wind is combined cycle natural gas (cheap + ramps up and down quickly) and more HVDC power lines. Right now both of those options smash batteries apart, that is why you don’t see commercial use.

        The most reasonable expectation for batteries on the electric grid will be the batteries inside your electric integrating with your home grid / @ home renewable energy.

        20,000 Tesla Model S is over 1GWh of batteries, 25,000 Volts is about .5GWh. That’s a lot of distributed storage in one year.

        • JustSaying

          There is a cost point, not very distant where batteries are cost effective. Use them to move when you buy or sell power. While it is true that the delta between highest/lowest wholesale cost (for seller) or retail cost(for buy) will likely drop over time. During that time frame there is a opening for early adopters of large battery storage. Then as they become cheaper, we will shift even more and we will not have to use the coal/gas at all. We need to get to negative CO2 production.

          • Shiggity

            Well there is a very likely scenario taking shape that nullifies large scale battery use on the grid. I think we can both agree that the decrease in cost for renewables (solar pv + large wind) is incredibly likely over the next 20 years with somewhat relative consistency. I just feel like we’ll soon be at a point where renewables are so much cheaper that you can afford to simply overbuild or put in less than optimal locations.

            When this occurs, many regions that typically were importers of electricity will become exporters and this will drive the mass increase of electricity line building. This has already occurred in Texas. Their grid almost exploded last summer when they went through 40+ days of 100+(F) temps. This really sped up their progress of expanding ERCOT and also building out lines to what they call CREZs or “Competitive Renewable Energy Zones”. Also making more connections between ERCOT and the other grids.

            Lobbying and monopolies could delay this for a long time though. But all things considered I see the future as no coal, no nuclear (except in ships, I think we need more ships with nuclear), lots of transmission lines, ridiculous amounts of solar and wind, very small amount combined cycle natural gas (GE’s new plant can ramp up / down in minutes very efficiently), and the battery makeup will be from electric cars and giant series of packs from old electric cars that will be used commercially. Most automakers already have this tested, i.e. they power their factories with onsite renewables + power managed old battery cells.

            I also feel that the money for nuclear should go to geothermal, geothermal is simply better, it’s safer, even longer lasting, has 100% free fuel input, AND it’s baseload.

            I like your idea of negative CO2 production. What we need are market pricing mechanisms that favor this idea. A carbon tax and federal dollars going to you for taking CO2 out of the air at a meaningful scale. So for example, if you’re a company that makes concrete by combining waste CO2 with other products (there are several) you’d be getting paid for the concrete, avoid the carbon tax, AND be getting paid again for taking CO2 out of the air.

            Sorry for rambling a bit there. My core point is that as long as renewables keep falling in price, it won’t matter that batteries are falling in price as well, they’ll always be ‘out of reach’ on a large scale. The ‘battery’ will be the natural gas on the core grid or renewable energy from somewhere else.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’d be hesitant to make that prediction for 20 years from now.

          Natural. gas prices are going to be rising and we could be seeing problems producing a lot of NG 20 years from now. Known and probable reserves are likely to be tapped out within 20 years, especially as we continue to increase the amount we burn per year.

          Battery prices are likely to fall, as will the cost of wind and solar generation. Somewhere during the next 20 years we could see it cheaper to store wind or solar than to generate with NG.

          Wind is on its way to 3c/kWh, Some of the promising battery storage could drop below 2c/kWh. Five cents undercuts NG.

          A combined cycle plant takes up to three hours to reach full efficiency. During the first hours it’s turned on it is running at a lower efficiency level, only the gas turbine is producing. Batteries will have an easier time competing during the heat up time. And they automatically win during the 10-15 minutes it takes a turbine to reach operating speed.

          Plus there’s the distinct possibility that we will decide to get serious about climate change and put a price on carbon.

          Short term, yes, NG will be a big player. I suspect we’ll see its role changing in not much more than five years as better storage becomes proven.

          • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

            Have you been keeping up on possible deployment of HVDC lines? With the doubling of renewable energy every three years the HVDC lines are going to be needed very soon…

            HVDC by themselves can in a way be considered a 100% efficient battery. Alleviating much of the need for batteries such as these.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, we’re building some now and planning others. I think one was just completed in Texas. There’s one underway to ship Oklahoma wind to East Tennessee. There are others in the upper Midwest for shipping wind eastward. There’s one in planning for shipping Wyoming wind to the West Coast.

            In other countries they are building UHVDC lines, stepping up the voltage significantly in order to ship more power on the same diameter cable.

            Then there’s Tres Amigas which is planning to use superconducting cable technology to connect the three major US grids.

          • Shiggity

            http://www.cleanlineenergy.com/ I think are the routes you mentioned.

            Texas is currently building a lot of lines or has just recently finished major ones with more planned.

            There is also the undersea HVDC that Google is partially funding and is in the works for the Atlantic coastline for an offshore wind grid.

            Here is an outline for a national HVDC network. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=110997398

            California’s peak power time of day has basically disappeared from all the solar pv and solar thermal. Pretty soon the demand curve for electricity will invert like it has in southern Germany. Electricity will actually be the cheapest when it’s sunny, as opposed to the most expensive right now.

            I really hope Tres Amigas gets built. They should be getting federal dollars for it and giving it a military base. If it does get built, it’s a pretty significant tactical location for our country.

          • Shiggity

            We need NG for transportation anyways as a hedge in the 10-20 year term. @10-15 minutes, this is negligible with proper management, which we have good guy Moore’s Law for.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I really don’t think we have enough NG in order for us to use it massively. Based on what the EIA projected a few months back we might have only 20 or so years worth at 2010 burn rates. And we’re burning faster now. Add a lot of transportation use and we’ll burn through it even faster,

            And the EIA lowered their estimates of NG supply recently. Wells are dropping in capacity much faster than was projected.

        • anderlan

          From now on, whenever anyone mentions how great a bridge multi-output gas plants are, they must also mention that they called one or more of their elected officials that day and said, very loudly, that there needs to be a rising price on carbon. That’s the deal. Any mention of bridge fuel should include a mention of how to ramp down its use, starting NOW.

          Burn the bridge fuel.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Thank You! Have to remember that one, anderlan.

        • RobS

          Even CCGT is inefficient if its constantly ramped up and down to balance micro fluctuations from renewables. The “best battery” for the grid is going to be IMHO a hybrid between storage batteries, CCGT and hydro. A grid connected storage network capable of smoothing out 2-3 hours of low output will smooth the minute to minute and hour to hour fluctuations allowing reduced rapid cycling of gas plants. Grid managers can then cycle hydro and gas turbines in a less intensive way if the reduced output is expected to continue and deplete the storage below say 50%, if intermittent renewable forecasting tells them the reduced output is likely to be transient then the gas turbines can be left idled. This will reduce the need for turbines, reduce the consumption of fossil fuels unnecessarily and reduce the cycling and therefore extend the lifespan of the installed gas turbines. It is quite possible this hour to hour smoothing role could be filled by parked EV’s who can be reimbursed for the slight extra burden of a few partial cycles a week, in this case very little additional investment would be required to incorporate a small amount of storage capacity into the grid.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A couple of years ago there was considerable talk about building new pump-up hydro storage. And then when promising developments in battery technology began to be announced that talk quietened. I don’t know if utilities have insider information about what may be coming soon in battery technology or not, but my suspicions are raised.

            We could do the storage job with pump-up. We’ve got hundreds of existing dams that could be converted. But if the price of battery storage gets anywhere close to that of pump-up I suspect we’ll build no more pump-up.

            It’s really hard to get a price for pump-up but I sometimes see 1.8 cents per kWh used. There are a couple of battery developers who claim they will be able to reach 2 cents or even better. If that happens then I suspect storage will be almost totally battery.

            Batteries can be located where transmission best likes them. Some at the wind/solar sites to smooth out transmission and keep line size to a minimum. Some at the neighborhood level so that distribution systems can be minimally sized and made more robust.

            There won’t be problems siting battery placements. They’ll look like shipping containers, so anywhere industrial stuff is located they will fit right in. They can be stuck behind a fence or in a warehouse/old factory building and no one will even know they are there,

            If there’s a problem with one of the ‘containers’ a spare can be trucked in quickly and the problem unit trucked to a repair site.

            The only competitor I see is possibly Lightsail’s containerized CAES system. If they are successful at storing the heat and using it to reheat the compressed air during generation then they may have a winner.

      • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

        Hey Bob.
        You’ll notice when I did a google search they all showed capacities similar to the above article. (Not 8 times less.) So I copied and linked one of the results which it seems you didn’t read closely. Then you probably got a link wrong that you meant to point somewhere other than here? I fully understand why batteries are important in this interim period where solar and wind are not over supplying the electric grid. What I don’t get is what makes these batteries different. The author goes on about how great they are but never gets into the details. It seems more like an announcement to keep your eyes open, the solution is near, trust me it’s really near. Then leaves…

        • Bob_Wallace

          Your link wouldn’t open for me. I got a 404 error message.

          • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

            Thanks. Fixed that now.

    • jlmur

      What might make a good article (or expose?) is if someone could summarized and explain the discussions going on in these posts.

      • http://profiles.google.com/ivor.oconnor Ivor O’Connor

        Hi Jlmur,

        Where to start all depends on what you understand. This article claims somebody has turned lead into gold. If this article were true, highly unlikely, renewable energy generated in a four hour period could be metered out and added to the grid in a very friendly non disruptive manner.

        Since the article contained no details to give readers confidence all the normal old solutions were discussed. One old solution was to use the batteries in battery operated cars that are probably going to be plugged in and available to smart grids. This is bound to happen. We are going to have 20 thousand Tesla’s on the road this year and within 10 years probably everybody will be driving a batter operated car. Lots of battery packs without the need of this solution. Another person mentioned natural gas. Natural gas has less CO2 than coal but has polluted much of the ground water in our country. It’s called a “bridge” solution only because they haven’t been held accountable yet. HVDC power lines allow electricity to be shipped thousands of miles unlike the current power lines that only work for a few hundred miles. So any renewable energy anywhere in the country can be fully taken advantage of. All solutions benefit from HVDC lines but since they cross state lines they are usually mired in politics that involve congress. Renewable energy is doubling every three years. At some point it will meet all of the electrical needs and then some. The then some will be used to convert water and carbon dioxide to methane as a fuel for ships, planes, and rockets…

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