Local Solar Energy Banks Cheaper Than Home Batteries

by Giles Parkinson.

Originally published on RenewEconomy

What if households could deposit excess solar output in an “energy bank”, and use it to drawn down when needed or loan energy to others.

There is no doubt that rooftop solar systems are seen as a threat to incumbent utilities – be they they generators suffering from lower demand or network operators finding their business model under threat.

Most of the scenarios generated for the development of rooftop solar, such as that by the CSIRO Future Grid forum, suggest the development of in-home battery storage that could enable householders to shift their peaks, store energy for night-time or even, one day, go off grid.

But another proposal involves a different way of thinking about this – using storage, in this case compressed air, to create a sort of “solar bank” that would allow householders to deposit surplus electricity, and either draw down for their own use or lend it out to others.

The proposal comes from General Compression, a Boston-based company which is developing and trialling technology that allows excess output to be stored as compressed air in large caverns.

General Compression argues that its proposal avoids the pitfalls of rooftop solar created when too much strain is put on the network when the sun goes down, or from too much electricity being sent back to the grid.

But what if a single bulk energy storage facility could act like a bank for thousands of distributed solar system owners, suggests Peter Rood, the development manager from General Compression.

A network connected storage project would allow multiple customers to “deposit” energy into the bank during the day when they have excess generation and later “withdraw” that energy when the sun goes down.

He says that low cost of bulk storage – estimated at around one quarter of the megawatt hour cost of batteries, combined with a pay-for-use model would allow easy access to storage for customers – and allow the network to benefit from the fast responding ancillary services provided by the storage system.

Like a bank, not every customer would demand their stored energy be withdrawn at the same time and unused energy from the storage facility could be “loaned” during peak periods and later repaid during off-peak periods. This would further offset the cost of the facility and increasing the benefits to the network.

Rood says this would help networks because it would maintain their relationship with customers – which others have pointed out is under threat from rising network costs, falling solar and battery prices, and unchanging and inflexible business models.

And it would provide access to low cost storage to distributed solar owners and avoid individual households having excess capacity at each location. As mentioned before, general Compression sees CAES at one quarter the cost of batteries.

If such a system were introduced, it would probably require the rules of the market to be re-written, and the roles and responsibility of the storage facility operator, the network operator and the electricity retailer would need to be defined.

Note: Certain market rules and regulations may require revision to allow for the creation of the business model described in this section. In particular the roles and responsibilities of the storage facility operator, network operator, and retailer need to be defined.

Screen-Shot-2013-12-15-at-12.07.48-pm

This article, Creating A Solar Energy Bank, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

Four Possible Scenarios For Australia’s Energy Future

by Joshua S Hill.

In Australia, wind power is rapidly replacing coal-fired capacity.
In Australia, wind power is rapidly replacing coal-fired capacity.

A new report published by the Future Grid Forum has outlined four possible scenarios which could represent the way Australia’s national electricity system may grow.

The Forum brought together more than 120 representatives from the electricity industry, government, and community. The aim was to “inform and inspire the national conversation about the future of electricity in Australia.”

The report presented to the participants is available for download here.

The Future Grid Forum presented four scenarios “that have far-reaching implications for the current and future electricity supply chain and would alter the electricity system in Australia.” The four scenarios are:

  • Set and forget
  • Rise of the prosumer
  • Leaving the grid
  • Renewables thrive.

“All of the choices in the Future Grid Forum scenarios have consequences for the price of electricity, something that has significantly impacted consumers in recent years,” said CSIRO Energy Flagship Chief Economist, Paul Graham. ”Electricity will not get cheaper in the coming decades, but bills can be reduced through the adoption of energy efficiency, peak demand management and on-site generation.”

“These steps, in combination with general wages growth, means the share of income average households spend on electricity is projected to be similar – shifting marginally from 2.5 per cent in 2013 to between 2.3 and 2.9 per cent in 2050 depending on the scenario.”

The four scenarios present ways in which consumers can take greater control of how they consume and produce electricity.

“This proactive shift could potentially influence the business model for the electricity sector, encouraging the emergence of new services to supply an individually tailored product – not dissimilar to the telecommunications industry shift from a one-size-fits-all landline telephone system to a wide variety of mobile and associated data and entertainment services,” Mr Graham said. ”One of the Forum’s scenarios looks at the option for around a third of consumers to disconnect from the electricity grid through the use of on-site generation using technologies like rooftop solar panels and battery storage; and this is projected to be economically viable from around 2030 to 2040.”

“Under the full range of scenarios Australia could see on-site generation grow from the current figure of 8 per cent to reach between 18 and 45 per cent of total generation by 2050, but mostly while staying connected and using the grid as an electricity trading platform.”

The four scenarios are helpfully explained in the following four images.

set and forget

rise of the

leaving the grid

renewables thrive

The Forum is clear to make the distinction between scenarios and predictions.

“They are windows through which we can view potential futures for Australia’s electricity sector and have been developed through extensive quantitative modelling, analysis and social dimensions research,” they note.

Unsurprisingly, the Forum believe that technology is going to play a much greater role in the way that we move forward, allowing for “more sophisticated ways of managing household demand during peak times through the introduction of devices such as smart air conditioners and in-home storage systems.”

“Better strategies for peak demand management could save two cents per kilowatt hour or $1.4 billion per annum on distribution costs for households,” Mr Graham said.

“This is an extraordinary time of change for Australia’s electricity industry and the Forum partners see the release of this report as an opportunity to begin a national conversation to decide the right answers for the sector, its stakeholders and, most importantly, all Australians,” Mr Graham concluded.

Australia has consistently been behind the curve in energy innovation, thanks primarily to heavy reliance on massive coal reserves. Movement has been made — including recent solar records reaching 3 GW — but there is a long way to go.

This article, Four Possible Scenarios For Australia’s Energy Future, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Joshua S. HillJoshua 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.

2013 CO2 Emissions Will Set Record High

by Guest Contributor Ari Phillips.

Coal power plant via Shutterstock
Coal power plant via Shutterstock.

Originally published on Climate Progress.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels are set to rise again in 2013, reaching a record high of 36 billion tons. According to a report released Monday by the Global Carbon Project, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production increased by 2.1 percent in 2012, with a total of nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere, 60 percent above 1990 emissions. Emissions are projected to increase by a further 2.1 percent in 2013.

The projected 2.1 percent rise over 2012 figures “is not a surprise at all,” Roisin Moriarty, a research scientist with the Global Carbon Project at the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Center for Climate Research, told NBC News. In fact, “it is a little lower than the value we predicted last year — 2.6 percent.”

Moriarty attributed the slowdown almost entirely to slower economic growth in China, saying it’s nothing to celebrate.

According to a statement released with the study, most emissions are from coal (43 percent), then oil (33 percent), gas (18 percent), cement (5.3 percent) and gas flaring (0.6 percent). The growth in coal in 2012 accounted for 54 percent of the growth in fossil fuel emissions.

The U.S. reduced emissions by 3.7 percent in 2012, while the E.U. made cuts of 1.3 percent. India and China are leading the way on emissions growth, increasing emissions by 7.7 percent and 5.9 percent respectively.

CO2 emissions from deforestation and other land-use change added eight percent to the emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Cumulative emissions of CO2 since 1870 are set to reach 2015 billion tons in 2013, with 70 percent caused by burning fossil fuels and 30 percent from deforestation and other land-use changes, according to the study.

In a statement, Dr. Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter said, “We have exhausted about 70 percent of the cumulative emissions that keep global climate change likely below two degrees. In terms of CO2 emissions, we are following the highest climate change scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September.”

The highest climate change scenario sets the world on track for catastrophic warming of 3.2-5.4C (5.8-9.7F) by 2100.

Dr. Michael Raupach at CSIRO and an author on the report told The Conversation that the findings are “absolutely frightening.”

Raupach estimated that we have 30 years before the entire world has to stop emitting carbon “cold turkey.”

“If we want to meet the target it will mean rapid decreases from now of several percent per year until we get down to one third of current emissions in 30 years time. Then we’ve still got some of our quota left to use for carbon emissions we can’t avoid,” he said.

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This article, 2013 CO2 Emissions Will Set Record High, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

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