Google Making Breakthroughs in Finding Better Energy Storage Solutions

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has a so-called X division, which works on highly experimental projects. But a lot of these projects could prove very beneficial in solving some of the world’s biggest problems. This division created Google’s self-driving car, as well as Project Loon, which involves high altitude balloons carrying Wi-Fi. And now it is looking for more efficient and effective ways of high-density energy storage.

This project is called Malta and the energy storage solution they came up with features molten salt storage, which X has paired with cold storage using antifreeze. Molten salt energy storage has been looked at before as a viable solution for energy storage, and paired with antifreeze, it can store energy for days, possibly weeks. As such, it would be perfect for storing renewable energy, which is simply getting discarded in lots of places at the moment.

Reports show that China discards 17 percent of energy produced by wind per year, while Germany tosses away 4 percent. And this year alone, California has had to discard 300,000 megawatt hours of excess electricity from the grid, all of which came from renewable sources. If there was a way to store that energy, it would be enough to power thousands of homes.

The dual thermal energy storage tech that X has come up with can be used to store high densities of energy, while it will also be a lot less expensive than existing solutions. It is also very scalable, since all it would take to expand it would be adding more salt and cold liquid tanks to the system. Also, the salt used can be charged and re-charged several times over its lifespan.

They’ve already built a small prototype of this energy storage system in Silicon Valley. They’re now looking for partners, such as Siemens and GE, to develop a commercial prototype, which can be tested on the grid.

Gridential energy storage: New CEO, new vision for 48-volt battery in solar plus storage

Gridential battery

You may not have heard of Gridtential yet, but you will soon because the company’s new executives have plans for the solar plus storage market.

New leadership

Those new execs are: New CEO John Barton, formerly President of Global Asset Management for SunEdison; and new Technical Advisory Board member Bob Gruenstern, formerly Johnson Controls Global Vice President for Product and Advanced Engineering. Both Barton and Gruenstern bring decades of critical operations and product development expertise as Gridtential accelerates plans for the commercialization of its patented Silicon Joule battery technology.

New investment

On the heels of its recent $11 million Series B financing round, coming from four strategic partners and 1955 Capital, Gridtential is eyeing the global energy storage market opportunities and new applications in 48-volt electric-hybrid vehicle applications but also pursuing backup power and grid solutions.

Three keys for reducing commercial demand charges with solar-plus-storage systems

New vision

Gruenstein emphasized: “Gridtential’s architecture breakthrough leverages new material advances that simply didn’t exist until now, and that positions it, along with its growing roster of lead battery manufacturers, to satisfy the market pull we’re seeing for high voltage applications like electric-hybrid vehicles. These types of technology are a substantial extension of lead, giving it new capabilities to compete with lithium batteries on performance, while retaining key advantages in safety, recyclability and cost.”

“After my two decades of product development, high-volume manufacturing and solar, I believe we’re seeing the same intersection of technology advances, increases in performance, and cost reductions in energy storage that catapulted those industries to the next level,” said John Barton, CEO of Gridtential. “This convergence is already transforming existing markets and enabling new ones, like the shift from 12-volt to 48-volt in hybrid cars, and with the leverage of an existing world-class global supply chain, Gridtential is setting new cost and performance standards for high voltage energy storage.”

— Solar Builder magazine

New Jersey water treatment plant now prepped with on-site solar-plus-storage microgrid

EOS energy storage

A 250-kW, 1 MWh Eos Aurora DC battery system was commissioned at the wastewater treatment plant in the Borough of Caldwell, NJ. The batteries are a central component of Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s (PSE&G’s) on-site solar-plus-storage microgrid that will help keep the facility operating during extended power outages. The Caldwell microgrid is part of the New Jersey utility’s Solar 4 All program.

The microgrid includes an Eos Energy Storage system and an 896 kW-DC solar PV system designed and installed by Advanced Solar Products of Flemington, NJ. Siemens Energy Management integrated the Eos Aurora system, solar facility, and existing diesel generator, using the Eos Znyth battery technology as the backbone of the microgrid to reinforce emergency resiliency for this piece of critical municipal infrastructure. Siemens also provided the intelligent control technology to monitor, manage and distribute power across the system.

The solar and battery storage systems are connected directly to PSE&G’s electric grid. Under normal conditions, the solar panels deliver power to the grid and the battery storage system can provide value-added grid services for integrating solar onto the grid and participating in ancillary markets.

The Caldwell wastewater treatment plant microgrid is part of a 3 MW-DC portion of the Solar 4 All program. The initiative develops projects that integrate solar with other technologies to reduce the impact of solar on the grid or to demonstrate reliability and grid resiliency of solar for critical facilities during prolonged power outages. The solar installation, combined with Eos’ long-duration energy storage, significantly extends backup power capacity and emergency operation of critical water treatment capabilities.

EOS energy storage

“One of the goals of our Solar 4 All program is to help support the growth and development of solar and related industries in New Jersey,” said Todd Hranicka, director – solar energy at PSE&G. “So we were especially happy to include the battery technology from a fellow New Jersey company like Eos into a project that helps make our electric system and a piece of critical infrastructure more reliable and resilient.”

Construction of the solar-plus-storage system at the Caldwell wastewater treatment plant was a joint effort between Advanced Solar Products, Eos, and Siemens Energy Management. The Eos Aurora battery system was selected on the basis of its multi-hour duration and the benefits of its simple, sustainable and inherently stable zinc hybrid cathode design.

— Solar Builder magazine

Tabuchi updates EIBS solar-storage system, now UL 9540 certification compliant

Tabuchi 2

At Intersolar, Tabuchi America, announced the launch of its Next Generation Eco-Intelligent Battery System (EIBS). The all-in-one system is compliant with the cUL 9540 certification requirements, which provides third-party validation of safety, reliability and efficient energy management for hybrid solar-plus-storage systems. Tabuchi’s grid-friendly system includes a high efficiency inverter, stackable batteries and integration with GELI software for the most adaptable battery storage system on the market.

“As interest in energy storage grows in the residential sector, attention to safety regulations is more important than ever, not just to protect the safety of people and property, but also to expedite the permitting process,” said Harumi McClure, COO and President of Tabuchi America. “We’re pleased to receive the cUL 9540 certification compliance on our highly-efficient Next Generation EIBS. The system is designed for adaptability and ease of installation with a direct current (DC) coupled battery. This maximizes the amount of solar energy utilized by the system and safely provides solar power to the grid, and to residential customers during power outages.”

While there are many efforts to develop and apply safety standards for the rapidly evolving energy storage industry, the cUL 9540 certification compliance is limited to a relatively small number of energy storage manufacturers. The standard certifies Tabuchi’s Next Generation EIBS as a home energy storage system that interacts safely with the cUL 1741 requirements certified hybrid inverter.

Intersolar North America Showcase: Here’s what to see at this year’s trade show

Consumers get more out their system because both the battery’s bi-directional converter and the solar inverter are DC-coupled. This allows the energy generated by the solar panels to directly charge the batteries without first converting to alternating current (AC) like most storage systems. This leads to higher system efficiency through one fewer DC-AC inversion.

The modular stackable battery system is key for customers with larger homes, as well as those who are looking to utilize the system for backup power. The increased storage capacity can help customers keep the critical electrical loads operational longer during a blackout. It also lowers their energy bills by reducing the amount of electricity purchased from the grid during peak hours when prices are highest and/or when utilities levy additional charges. Added surge capability enables the EIBS system to power motor-driven loads such as water pumps, which have a higher starting load, allowing greater integration within the home.

— Solar Builder magazine

Three keys for reducing commercial demand charges with solar-plus-storage systems

Researchers from Berkeley Lab and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) show the dynamic tag team potential of solar plus storage systems for reducing demand charges in commercial applications.

Solar on its own doesn’t do much to fight demand charges. The report, Solar + Storage Synergies for Managing Commercial-Customer Demand Charges, seeks to assess the incremental demand reductions from adding behind-the-meter storage in conjunction with solar. To do so, the study estimates demand charge savings from solar + storage systems based on simulations across a large number of commercial building types and locations, over a multi-year period, with varying solar and storage system sizes and a range of demand charge designs.

Key findings

solar storage demand charge

Solar + storage exhibit consistent synergies for demand charge management. In nearly every simulation, solar + storage co-deployed in commercial buildings result in a greater demand reduction than the sum of what each would achieve alone. The greatest synergies occur for buildings with broad daytime peak loads that extend into early morning and/or evening hours (as shown in the schematic above) and for locations with a high degree of intermittent cloud cover where storage can buffer transient drops in solar production. The strongest solar + storage synergies in our analysis were found for hospitals and office buildings, and for most building types in Miami, though these are not necessarily the cases with the greatest absolute level of demand reduction.

Demand reductions from solar + storage are highly customer-specific. Demand reductions from solar + storage systems vary substantially from customer to customer, depending on commercial building type and location. The greatest demand reductions tend to occur for buildings with relatively narrow afternoon peak loads and in locations with the most consistent sunshine. These are the same conditions in which solar, on a stand-alone basis, tends to yield the greatest demand reductions, though the reductions may be considerably greater with the addition of storage.

Demand charge reductions from solar + storage depend on demand charge design. Solar + storage systems yield greater demand reductions under demand charge designs that are based on pre-defined peak periods; this is in contrast to the more typical “non-coincident” demand charge design that is based on the customer’s maximum demand at any point over the course of the month. Separate from that design issue, demand charge reductions from solar + storage also tend to be greater for demand charge designs where billing demand is measured over relatively short (e.g., 15-minute or 30-minute) intervals.

— Solar Builder magazine