Energy Storage Industry Off and Running in January 2016

With almost 3 GW of energy storage capacity either in operation or planned, analysis firm IHS believes the energy storage market will rise significantly in the near future.

Battery cost reductions, government funding programs and utility tenders led to a 45 percent increase in the global energy storage pipeline in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter. According to IHS, the global pipeline of planned battery and flywheel projects had reached 1.6 GW by the end of Q4 2015.

“Suppliers and developers around the world are preparing for a record year in 2016, with significant growth projected in a wide range of regions and market segments,” said Marianne Boust, principal analyst for IHS Technology.

 Project Announcements Abound in First Month of the Year

Company announcements from across the globe signify a busy market ahead.

Several large-scale projects were announced at the end of 2015, signaling that the storage industry is moving toward commercially viable projects. These projects include a 90-MW order by major power producer STEAG from LG Chem, to compete in the primary reserve market in Germany, and 75 MW of contracts awarded by PG&E to a diverse mix of companies using various established and emerging technologies.

In Canada, Hecate Canada Storage, an emerging project development and electrical systems integrator, is building a 13-MW/53-MWh energy storage system near Toronto to fulfill six ancillary services agreements with Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Once complete in 2016, the project will be one of the largest grid ancillary services projects in North America, according to Leclanché, which will provide the battery storage systems.

Deltro Energy will procure, design and construct the site facilities balance of plant scope and high voltage connections to the grid. Deltro will also operate the facilities, and Greensmith Energy will provide the energy management system.

The IESO plans to use the energy storage systems to meet its needs for fast-reacting ancillary services. The principal service provided under these contracts is voltage control and reactive power support, an application that’s becoming increasingly important for Ontario and other regions with significant amounts of intermittent wind and solar power now on the high voltage transmission networks.

Just south of Canada in the U.S., Sumitomo Corp. announced that its Willey Battery Utility (image, right) that it built in Hamilton County, Ohio is ready to start operating. The facility will provide balancing service for the frequency regulation market operated by PJM, the largest independent service operator of wholesale electricity in the U.S.

RES developed and constructed the 6-MW energy storage project, which includes three containers of lithium ion batteries manufactured by Toshiba, and three inverter units manufactured by Parker Hannifin.

Sumitomo Corporation Group piloted projects in Japan creating battery storage systems from reused EV batteries on the islands of Yumeshima, Osaka, Koshiki and Kagoshima in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The company aims to explore the effectiveness of battery power storage systems and their ability to stabilize the electricity grid with the growing use of renewable energy.

In China, Beijing Huadian Tianren Electric Power Control Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Guodian Corporation is building a wind farm energy storage demonstration project using ultracapacitor technology from Maxwell Technologies. When complete, China Guodian Corporation’s system will be the first MW-scale, ultracapacitor-based wind farm energy storage system in the world.

“Ultracapacitors’ long cycle life and fast response capabilities can smooth power output fluctuation, allowing large-scale wind farms to connect to the grid as a more reliable power generation source,” said Yu Kang, the demonstration project leader at Beijing Huadian Tianren Electric Power Control Technology Co.

“Maxwell’s ultracapacitors are a perfect fit for this wind farm energy storage demonstration project, and with growing demand, we see a great deal of opportunity to partner with more Chinese customers to expand ultracapacitor-based energy storage in more applications,” said Dr. Franz Fink, president and chief executive officer for Maxwell.

In Texas, ViZn Energy Systems announced that its redox flow batteries based on zinc-iron chemistry would be used in a demonstration project at Idaho National Lab (INL). The company received an order for a 128-kW/320-kWh redox flow battery system that will be part of a microgrid research, development and demonstration testbed. The microgrid should be commissioned in the second quarter of 2016.

“The characteristics of the ViZn battery are of significant interest for island grids and microgrids that support various services in heavy-use and challenging environments, especially for renewable energy integration challenges,” said Kurt Myers, Clean Energy Market Area lead for INL. “We are interested in the potential for lower cost energy storage systems, with 20+ year life times and the ability to fulfill aggressive duty cycle requirements as well as long duration energy dispatch.”

Partnerships Enable Growth and Expansion

In other flow-battery news, Vancouver-based American Vanadium announced its intent to acquire GILDEMEISTER energy storage GmbH, manufacturer of the CellCube (image, left) vanadium flow energy storage system. The LOI [letter of intent] provides American Vanadium the right to enter into a share purchase agreement on or before Feb. 29, 2016. 

 “Now having sold more than 100 units, the CellCube has successfully been established as the world’s most commercially advanced flow battery,” said Bill Radvak, President & CEO of American Vanadium in a statement.

American Vanadium is developing high-purity vanadium electrolyte from the Gibellini Vanadium Deposit located in Nevada. “An aging utility infrastructure, combined with the dramatic growth of renewable energy, are strong market drivers towards long duration storage where flow batteries are expected to dominate,” said Radvak.

CellCube’s flow battery technology is designed to deliver power up to 10 MW with stable energy capacity for long storage durations of 2 to 12 hours, according to the company. CellCube energy storage systems are installed in the Czech Republic, New York, New South Wales University, Australia and other locations both on and off-grid across the globe.

In California, residential energy storage provider JuiceBox Energy is teaming up with Sprint network and its Machine-to-Machine (M2M) command center to securely monitor, manage, activate, and deactivate energy storage systems remotely.

“The Sprint agreement gives JuiceBox Energy, our installers, and utility customers a powerful tool for performance monitoring, remote firmware updates and keeping up with changing electricity tariff structures and regulations,” said Neil Maguire, CEO of JuiceBox Energy.

The JuiceBox Energy Storage System is an automotive-grade, 8.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack with charge control and energy management system coupled to a 5.5-kW Schneider XW+ inverter.

U.S. Government Funding Energy Storage Demonstration Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on January 19 that it is awarding $18 million in funding for six new energy storage plus solar projects across the country. These projects will enable the development and demonstration of integrated, scalable, and cost-effective solar technologies that incorporate energy storage to power American homes after the sun sets or when clouds are overhead.

The six new integrated PV and energy storage projects will use smart inverters and work in conjunction with smart buildings, smart appliances, and utility communication and control systems. The projects are either led by a utility company or include a utility company as a key partner, and the teams will conduct at least a one-year field demonstration of their technologies. The funding awards went to the following organizations:

Austin Energy ($4.3 million); Carnegie Mellon University ($1 million); Commonwealth Edison Company ($4 million); Electric Power Research Institute ($3.1 million) Fraunhofer USA ($3.5 million) and Hawaiian Electric Company ($2.4 million).

More about the projects here.


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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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