Lithium ion batteries, which have been in the news a lot this year with the development of the Tesla Gigafactory and implementation of grid scale storage, may get a new boost from beer. Researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder have discovered a way to use wastewater from beer production to improve the cultivation of chemicals used to make electrodes, making both processes more effective along the way.
While lithium ion batteries are taking most of the headlines, other technologies are also being pursued, and this week Fluidic Energy demonstrated their long duration Zinc-air energy storage system, being developed with funding through the Arizona Public Service (APS) Solar Innovation Study-125 program. The technology has a sweet spot from 4 to 24 hours of storage, costing between $200 and $300 per kWh.
So while clean energy growth may be slowing, energy storage is on track for its best record yet. The North American market in particular has embraced this technology, with projects being build ever more quickly in response to challenges from distributed and variable renewable generation. In 2015, 81% of the installations deployed were utility scale, dropping to 54% in 2016 to date as distributed storage (including commercial and microgrid installations) increase in a trend expected to continue.
Hawaii’s largest behind the meter battery storage (108kW/216kWh) has been connected - at a theme park! The project, supported by the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, is part of the 3-year programme to deploy and test storage systems across 30 businesses on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island.
In fact, as storage becomes increasingly prevalent, questions are being raised about how best to compensate a technology can provides multiple services (serving both wholesale, retail, and ancillary service markets across generation, transmission and distribution) to multiple stakeholders (including grid operators and utilities). The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has scheduled a technical conference on the topic (Docket No. AD16-25-000) to explore how best to understand and implement the value that storage can bring.