China Leads as U.S. Falls Behind in Global Smart Grid Investment

by Joshua S Hill

According to new figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), global smart grid investment grew to $14.9 billion in 2013, up from $14.2 billion in 2012, and being led by China, who finished the year as the world’s largest smart grid market.

Renewable Energy. The Smart Grid. Image courtesy of Hitachi.
Renewable Energy. The Smart Grid. Image courtesy of Hitachi.

China’s place at the top comes at the expense of the United States, as the North American market continued to slow and China dollar investment into their smart grid exceeded that of the US, thanks in part to the installation of 62 million smart meters, a market which accounted for just under half of the total smart grid spending worldwide.

China’s investiture into smart grid technology amounted to $4.3 billion during 2013, with a large share going towards the installation of smart meters, bringing their national total up to 250 million. However, the country has indicated that it is aiming to extend the end-date for completing its metering program from 2015 to 2017.

On the flipside, US smart grid spending slowed during 2013, as the North American market shrunk 33% to $3.6 billion during 2013, thanks in part to the conclusion of US stimulus-funded projects.

Global investment in the smart grid increased relatively modestly last year after five years of rapid growth. But the fundamental drivers of the smart grid – greater grid reliability, further integration of renewable energy, and improved demand-side management – are stronger than ever.

Asian and European markets will drive growth through 2020, while in North America the focus will continue to shift from hardware to software as utilities look to squeeze additional value out of the vast amounts of grid data now available. — Colin McKerracher, senior energy-smart technologies analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance

China and the US aren’t the only markets when it comes to smart metering, but they are the largest. Bloomberg noticed several “promising signs” during 2013 for the European market, including a large metering contract in the UK, a new tender in France, and the completion of the long-awaited cost benefit analysis in Germany.

Elsewhere, Japan’s utilities are currently in the tendering and procurement stage of their smart meter deployment, while in South America, Brazil’s smart meter deployment has been delayed due to certification and financing challenges.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance sees the following developments in 2014 and beyond:

  • Asia still has years of growth ahead. Despite China’s recently announced slowdown in meter installation, China’s 5-10 year meter replacement cycle means that as this major wave of installations finishes in 2017, the first wave of replacements is expected to commence. 2014-15 will bring also an increase in distribution automation spending in China while smart grid activity in Japan, Korea, India and South East Asia will also ramp up.
  • The US is entering a second major smart grid phase: information integration. With its growing penetration rates for smart meters and distribution automation, the next phase for the US smart grid is using the new data coming in off the grid to improve areas like outage management, customer segmentation and theft detection.
  • Europe is the smart grid’s sleeping giant. Europe has installed only 55m smart meters but this is expected to rise sharply to 180m by 2020. Spain will remain as the most active market in 2014 but large-scale deployments in the UK, Germany and France will begin to ramp up in late 2015.

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This article, Global Smart Grid Investment Grows, China Leads, US Falls Behind, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy. Joshua S Hill.Joshua S Hill I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.

Solar Grid Storage and AllCell Technologies team up for grid storage solution

by Zachary Shahan

Local solar power + local energy storage = a sustainable 24 hour Distributed Energy microgrid
Local solar power + local energy storage = a sustainable 24 hour Distributed Energy microgrid — and still allow large grid access, to handle peak load times and enjoy the ability to sell excess solar power back to the large grid at midday, with the installation of a two way “net-metering” electrical meter.

Solar Grid Storage’s PowerFactor™ solar + storage systems aim to bring more stability to the electric grid. It’s a turnkey energy storage solution (+ inverter) aimed at commercial solar power developers. Solar Grid Storage has just selected AllCell Technologies as a preferred supplier of large lithium-ion battery systems for these PowerFactor™ solar + storage systems.

AllCell’s passive thermal management system allows Solar Grid Storage to place both the battery system and inverter into a single ISO container — a significant reduction in complexity, cost, size, and weight compared to other options in the market today. — press release [PDF]

solar grid storage powerfactor
AllCell’s PowerFactor™ storage system.

Here’s more from the press release:

Large-scale batteries, with their ability to instantly either supply or absorb power, provide a powerful tool to ease the job of grid managers.

The Solar Grid Storage PowerFactor™ storage system allows solar developers a simple and cost effective way to integrate storage into projects typically ranging from 100 kilowatts to 10 megawatts.

The PowerFactor™ inverter acts as a standard solar inverter delivering AC power to the building but also can be used during power outages enabling the PV system plus batteries to provide emergency power indefinitely.

AllCell’s battery system, protected by the company’s proprietary thermal management system, offers a safer, longer lasting, and more economical solution than conventional large scale batteries.

Effective thermal management is important in any battery system, but it is especially critical in larger high-power systems.

AllCell’s patented technology utilizes a composite phase change material (PCM) to surround each cell within the battery, absorbing and distributing heat to reduce battery temperature and prevent thermal runaway propagation.

The PCM technology allows the PowerFactor™ system design to maximize safety and cycle life.

Solar Grid Storage PowerFactor™ systems are or will soon be in place at several projects in the PJM region. One such project is the Philadelphia Navy Yard’s Grid Star project, while another is the Konterra commercial micro grid in Laurel, Maryland.

Related Stories:

This article, Solar Grid Storage & AllCell Technologies Team Up For Grid Storage Solution, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

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Renewable Grid Augmentation, a solution for long-distance transmission leakage?

by John Brian Shannon

Electrical grids perform two main functions. They carry electrical current from the power producer to the end-user and they regulate the electrical current that is being transported through the lines.

On one end of the line, the electrical current might be generated by a hydro-electric dam, coal, nuclear power, or a renewable energy power plant such as wind or solar power. At the other end of the line, the homeowner, business, industry, or government, receives all the AC electricity (Alternating Current) they need at exactly the right voltage (Volts) and cycles per second (Hertz). In North America, this usually works out to 110 (or 120) Volts AC power @ 60 Hertz.

Along the route, through the hundreds or even thousands of miles of high tension lines and towers (called ‘pylons’) significant but naturally-occurringelectrical current losses of up to one-third of the original output are experienced — which must be covered by 1) sending more current than is needed to ensure the required amount reaches the city after the losses are factored in 2) the installation of costly substations, with their hugely expensive transformer systems to recover and re-modulate the current.

Illustration below depicts just one example of the many kinds of current leakage found in all electrical grids, worldwide.

479px-Fluorescent_tube_under_electric_line
A fluorescent tube glows in the electromagnetic field under high tension lines, from so called “navigated voltage” which happens near energized High Voltage wires. Image courtesy of Wikipedia (BaronAlaric).

There are more substations in North America than you can possibly imagine, and these help to regulate the electrical current and manage leakage. Even the tiniest substations cost several million dollars, have an appreciable land footprint, are often located on expensive land next to residential or commercial/industrial areas, and they are hazardous locations for pets and kids who may ‘jump the fence to take a look around.’ I know this, because in my youth this was a favourite pastime, and my friends and I ‘inspected’ entire substations wondering what role each component performed. After lightning storms, we always looked around for pieces of fried metal that we could proudly take home to show Mom.

SOLAR POWER GRID AUGMENTATION

Small-scale solar installations placed along high tension line routes could compensate for current leakages, and add surplus solar power to the grid as the current flows towards the end users.

The land required for such installations would be tiny, and in fact, that land is already bought and paid for (or leased) and this land is known as electrical power transmission company ‘right-of-ways’ wherever the high tension wires and the pylons which support the wires high above the ground, crisscross the countryside.

The next logical step for power producers and their partners the power transmission companies (now that solar panel costs have hit all-time lows) should be the installation of 1MW solar arrays every 50 or 100 miles along high tension wire right-of-ways to compensate for the electrical current that is lost in transit. A tiny substation at each solar array along the routes could transmit the solar generated power directly to the lines in real time, to make up for the electrical current that is normally lost in transit.

As most electricity demand occurs during the daylight hours, solar panels would add power to the grid exactly when it is experiencing its highest rate of electricity demand and leakage.

WIND POWER GRID AUGMENTATION

In Northern latitudes, wind power might be the preferred Grid Augmentation method. Installing a 1MW wind turbine every 50 miles along high tension wire routes would cover existing electrical current leakages, as well as adding surplus power to the grid.

New and sophisticated vertical axis wind turbines could be installed close to existing high-tension lines with no danger of them ever hitting the wires or pylons.

MAKE MINE A MODULAR!

By employing a modular approach to such installations, results could be seen right away, as a new design/engineering/construction method would not required for each installation. We can simply decide to add a 1MW block of solar or wind power every 50 miles (or whatever is required to cover the average current loss per 50 miles) and start pouring the concrete bases to mount the panels or turbines. This is not rocket science, this can be done.

Electrical leakage results in a huge cost to electrical producers, electrical power transmission companies, and especially to end-users. It is a well understood factor in the course of moving electrical power over long distances and merely adding electrical current to the grid at regular intervals — of a kind which has no fuel cost, no production cost, and is not operator-assisted — will solve the problem, completely.

I look forward to new and innovative uses for renewable energy which complement electrical power producers — instead of competing with them. Using renewable energy in this way could make our grids and the huge, otherwise empty tracts of land they occupy, 30% more efficient in less than two years, if we immediately begin to deploy Modular, Renewable, Grid Augmentation.

A smarter grid, courtesy of renewable energy!

 

Related Information is courtesy of Wikipedia: