Sunday, March 30, 2014

Listen Up: Let's Talk Solar Grid Storage

Listen Up: Let's Talk Solar Grid Storage

To many of us old timers, the battery storage industry looks a lot like the solar industry did ten years ago. Energy storage on the grid depends on future battery cost reductions, requires sophisticated management electronics, tricky packaging, favorable government policies, coordination with utility rates and appropriate financing. Not surprisingly, we're seeing successful solar entrepreneurs from the last decade applying their finely-honed skills and tactics to build new energy storage businesses.

The synergies between solar and battery storage are obvious, but problems still exist in getting the economics to pencil out for customers. As in the solar industry, clever system designs and financing strategies can go a long way to improve customer economics and generate real sales. Although we'd like to see a solar array on every residential roof and two battery stacks in every garage, what is more likely to happen is that commercial customers will be the early adopters of combined solar and energy storage systems.

Tom Leyden, CEO of Solar Grid Storage, is building a business at the nexus of solar and battery storage. They have developed an elegantly packaged combination of battery storage, inverters and rooftop solar. Just as importantly, they offer flexible financing packages that effectively combine storage and solar as a service — with the economic benefits accruing both from grid support services as well as customer peak shaving and backup power. Please join me on this week's Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as Tom Leyden explains the current opportunities and customer demand for combined solar and grid storage systems.

Find more episodes of The Energy Show here.

About The Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies. He's been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Source: Renewable Energy World

Tesla battery business plan gives energy utilities strife

Tesla battery business plan gives energy utilities strife : Renew Economy
Elon Musk, the maverick CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., is not to be taken lightly. First, he came up with an elegant electric vehicle that performs as good as it looks, while offering an extended range, something other all-electric vehicles could only talk about. Now, he says, time has arrived to go mainstream, with a version that offers extended range but with a price tag that may appeal to the ordinary folks, not just the rich, who have been his clients up to now.

The biggest obstacle is that there are not enough batteries for Tesla to ramp up production. The second is that today's batteries, when you can find them, are pricey for the amount of energy they store. Now that Tesla feels confident that if it can build more, consumers will buy them, it has decided to get into battery manufacturing business, and not in a haphazard way, but by building what is referred to as a $5 billion mega-factory.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 10.04.37 AM

Following the announcement, Mr. Musk, who is worth billions as stocks of his company continue to defy all laws of logic and gravity (graph on page 15), said, "Shifting to greater use of solar and wind power will challenge utility companies." In case his message did not register, he added, the shift will bring, "some amount of strife for the existing utilities, especially for those invested more heavily in fossil fuels."

Speaking before a receptive, if nervous, audience at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the state's regulator, Musk said Tesla is "working to create stationary battery packs that last long, are super safe and are compact."

His cousin, SolarCity's CEO Lyndon Rive, went even further by predicting that "There is no doubt storage will become cost effective and deliver electricity with storage at night." As if that was not enough to shock and awe, Rive added that utilities in California and elsewhere, who are resisting change, are merely delaying the inevitable.

The "Thought Leaders" session at CPUC, which normally draws 50 attendees or so, filled the largest auditorium and 2 adjacent rooms as hordes of people, no doubt including many job seekers with resumes in hand, flocked to hear Musk, a high-tech celebrity worthy of Hollywood paparazzi.

Musk and Rive, of course, can say what they want and get away with it. Both their companies are on a rapid growth path, pushing new technologies, enjoying increased sales, and facing declining costs. The utility industry, by contrast, is facing tepid or no growth, for the most part relies on technologies that have been around for decades if not longer, and facing increasing costs, especially in upgrading the aging network, the grid. While the average age of Tesla and SolarCity's workforce is under 30, utilities are mostly dealing with an aging workforce ready for retirement. Utility stocks are stable at best, if the companies are well-managed while Tesla's stocks keep on rising. The contrast between the old and the new is inescapable.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 10.04.45 AM

As CEO of a major solar PV company, Rive was critical of utilities, who are "taking months to connect residential solar panels to their systems" accusing them of playing games, "because they profit from the current system."

"When you have a game- changing technology, those in the game don't want to change," Rive said. "They like the existing game, the sole source, cost-plus model."
Rive noted that it now takes 8 months for utilities in California to connect a SolarCity PV customer with an energy storage system to the grid.

As reported in the February 2014 issue of this newsletter, Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) placed a temporary moratorium on new solar PV connections while trying to figure out how to deal with the surge of new installations.

Tesla's new battery factory, if all goes according to plan, could make it easier for customers to store their excess generation during sunny periods for later use, whether in their Tesla cars or in a storage device in the garage. Musk, who is SolarCity's chairman and the largest shareholder, has been offering Tesla batteries to selected rooftop solar customers in parts of California and New England. Once battery production soars and prices plunge, as expected, more PV customers can be fitted with storage.
Tesla's stock shot to $352.54 on 19 March 2014.

Source: Renew Economy

Saturday, March 29, 2014

SolarCity Freezes Energy Storage Program as Utilities Resist Grid Connections

SolarCity Freezes Energy Storage Program as Utilities Resist Grid Connections
SAN FRANCISCO -- SolarCity Corp., the biggest developer of U.S. rooftop solar panels, halted efforts to install and connect systems that include batteries for power storage because California's utilities are reluctant to link them to the electric grid.

About 500 SolarCity customers in the region have agreed to use the systems, and the state's three biggest utilities have connected 12 of them since 2011, said Will Craven, a spokesman for San Mateo, California-based SolarCity.

SolarCity is testing the units with photovoltaic panels to generate power and batteries that retain that energy for use when the sun isn't shining. The combination makes customers less dependent on local utilities. It may be a threat to the business model that's underpinned the power industry for a century.
"We've stopped submitting applications because we've lost faith that these things are actually going to be carried out in any reasonable time," Craven said in a phone interview.
The utilities require a series of applications and fees that Craven said makes the process too onerous. SolarCity has installed a total of 65 of the systems in areas overseen by PG&E Corp., Edison International's Southern California Edison and Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric.
"The ones we have submitted haven't gone anywhere," he said.
Homeowners with rooftop panels buy less electricity from the grid, and those who use batteries to store power may need to purchase even less.

Utilities Reply
The utilities say they support the use of solar power and new technologies such as batteries that promote energy efficiency. They also note that storage is a relatively new capability and that it will take some time to properly assess how to add it to the grid at fair pricing.
David Eisenhauer, a PG&E spokesman, said it takes about eight to 10 weeks to handle applications and the utility has processed eight of the 20 it has received.
"Because battery installation is such a new technology," he said today in a phone interview. "We're still working to find more efficiencies in processing the applications."
San Diego Gas & Electric said there is "an ambiguity in the existing tariff language" regarding storage and it's working with regulators to determine the appropriate fees, Hanan Eisenman, a spokesman, said in an e-mail today.

EVTV Friday Show - March 21, 2014

- New CALB LiFePo4 battery lineup announced
- Bottom balancing of the Better Place battery pack
- We show the Hauber Siemens Twins dual AC motor

The very long process of Bottom Balancing, especially with this big 48 modules pack ...
But it is worth it and has to be performed only once
I did the same with 3 modules and it took me roughly a week ...

New CALB LiFePo4 battery lineup announced: A much smaller format and a great improvement in Energy Density !

Jack ordered two boats to convert to Electric: this one and the same as Anne Kloppenborg just built in Amsterdam

EVtv Europe: Anne Kloppenborg shows the 818 build latest step

Good new on the prop problem on the Delta: Now it really flies !

Jehu Garcia takes us to another Californian VW Show

A fully Electric airplane

EV West shipped back the twin Siemens AC Motors to EVtv

Competitive energy storage solutions arrive in Australia

Battery solutions that can rival electricity retail prices are arriving in the Australian market, with the potential to further disrupt incumbent utilities' business models. SolarQuip's Glen Morris said that batteries with "optimised equipment" can store electricity in homes for between $0.23/kWh to $0.28/kWh.

Morris is currently working with solar distributor Solar360 on rolling out a series of storage products and power electronics for storage solutions. Morris said that the time has arrived where battery storage can compete with retailers, under certain models. Morris' is currently running a three-day training program for the Australian Solar Council at Swinburne University.
"If you can store energy that cheaply, it suddenly makes it viable to put in a battery system in because it saves you money."

Solar360 is introducing a number of technologies to make cost competitive storage available to its installers. These include a storage-ready inverter from Chinese supplier SolaX, two sizes of inverter/chargers from Schneider Electric and two lithium-ion batteries from BYD.
"About a year ago I was quoting $1/kWh with storing electricity with a lead-acid battery," said SolarQuip's Morris. He described the pricing of the new solutions as being a "game changer". Morris explained a number of scenarios where these storage solutions can be cost-effective for households.
"If you're in New South Wales and you're on a variable tariff, you can have off-peak, shoulder and peak (pricing). Off peak is around $0.16/kWh, peak is around $0.53/kWh – that's from 2pm to 8pm. If you've got electricity at $0.16/kWh, even without any solar, with battery backup you can buy at that price during the day and then use it between 2pm and 8pm, then it's costing you around $0.40/kWh for that energy, instead of $0.53kWh," said Morris.

Morris, who is also the vice president of the Australian Solar Council, said that adding solar to battery systems makes the proposition even better. "You'd then be getting electricity for the low $0.30s/kWh, when you'd be paying the peak rate."

Naturally, this scenario doesn't apply right around Australia, and time-of-day pricing is currently not being offered to all households. In fact, some utilities are reported to being taking steps to actively discourage distributed storage.

In South Australia, the current generous FIT for PV is cancelled if a battery is added to a solar installation and on the Horizon Power grids outside of the SWIS in WA, technical requirements in some areas may make adding storage problematic. On top of that, utilities may take steps to discourage storage by increasing fixed charges to bills or by applying grid costs even if a residence goes off grid.
"Retailers are now in direct competition with their customers," said Morris. "The utilities will be pushing hard at all levels, technical, regulatory and political – so it's going to be a real battle."
Despite these potential hurdles, some remain bullish as to the cost reduction path that battery manufacturers are on.

Former Sustainable Energy Association CEO Ray Wills said that battery technology, such as lead acid and lithium-ion, are mature technologies and that for lithium-ion, increases in production for industries such as e-mobility and consumer electronics driving major increases in production volumes.
"We've seen a 600% increase in production of solar panels over the last five years and the consequence was that solar panels came down in price more than 80% over the course of several years," said Wills, "and we'll see that sort of development with batteries as well."
This will impact on battery payback periods, potentially leading to a boom in installations. "What we know at the moment is that batteries installed in the home have a payback of round and about nine to ten years, so when we see batteries drop behind a five-year repayment, we're going to see a very rapid uptake." Wills' prediction is for batteries for family homes to reach that point some time in 2015.

Source: Renew Economy

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