North Sea Rocks Could Act as Large-Scale Underwater Renewable Energy Stores, Study Finds

Rocks at the bottom of the North Sea may provide the perfect storage location for renewable energy, according to a new study. Excess power could be stored in the form of compressed air inside porous formations on the seabed, providing a reservoir that can provide energy on demand. This pressurized air can be released to drive a turbine, generating a large amount of electricity. This would allow green energy to be stored in summer and released in winter, when demand is highest.

Department of Energy Commits $20.5M to Spark Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced plans for a $20.5 million investment in lithium-ion battery recycling, with the goal of boosting capture rates to 90%, from a current rate of less than 5%. These investments include $15 million to create a new Lithium Battery R&D Recycling Center in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The remaining $5.5 million will be used as prize money in a contest seeking “solutions to collecting, storing, and transporting discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling.” According to DOE, the contest will be “designed to accelerate the development of solutions from concept to prototype to demonstration.”

Venture Capital Investors Plowed $2.8 Billion into Battery Storage, Smart Grid and Energy Efficiency Companies in 2018

Companies in the battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency sectors raised a collective total of $2.8 billion in 2018, up a sharp 87 percent from 2017, according to Mercom Capital Group. Venture capital (VC) investors plowed $850 million in 49 deals into battery storage companies last year, up 19 percent from $714 million in 30 deals in 2017, according to Mercom’s 2018 Q4 and Annual Funding and M&A Report for Storage, Grid & Efficiency. Total corporate funding for the sector, including debt and public market financing, totaled $1.3 billion last year, up 46 percent year over-year.

Costs Continue to Decline for Residential and Commercial Photovoltaics in 2018

Continuing an annual NREL cost benchmarking effort that began in 2010, “U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2018,” found installed costs of PV systems declined across two of three sectors in the first quarter of 2018 from a year earlier. The other report, “2018 U.S. Utility-Scale Photovoltaics-Plus-Energy Storage System Cost Benchmark,” establishes NREL’s first benchmark of PV-plus-storage costs. Both reports and their models can be used to estimate future cost-reduction opportunities for PV and PV-plus-storage systems, helping to guide research and track costs.

El Paso Electric Taps 100MW of Storage to Supply West Texas Summer Peaks

El Paso Electric wants to build new natural-gas generation to meet its summer peaks, but it also selected solar and, unusually for Texas, energy storage resources. The portfolio’s heavy battery component breaks new ground for Texas, a massive energy market where energy storage has had an exceedingly difficult time breaking in, as previously reported by GTM. A few battery projects have moved forward as research efforts, and some have succeeded with creative business models, but never before on the scale of 100 megawatts.

‘Unlayering’ Peak Demand Could Accelerate Energy Storage Adoption

The debate over energy storage replacing gas-fired peakers has raged for years, but a new approach that shifts the terms of the argument could lead to an acceleration of storage deployments. Rather than looking at peak demand as a single mountainous peak, some analysts now advocate a layered approach that allows energy storage to better match peak needs. The idea is beginning to gain traction with some states and utilities.

Invenergy Begins Operation of Utility-Scale Energy Storage System

Invenergy has begun commercial operations of a utility-scale battery storage system located in Knoxville, Iowa, developed for MidAmerican Energy. This followed a four-month construction process that culminated with the battery becoming operational in December 2018. The battery can provide four MWh of storage capacity, supplying one MW of power for up to four hours—enough electricity to power about 900 average Iowa homes.

Puget Sound Energy Selects Sunverge for Grid-Scale Solar+Storage Demonstration

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has selected the Sunverge platform to test the integration of battery storage technology as part of its Smart Grid demonstration efforts. The Smart Grid is designed to help customers save money and energy, while helping PSE improve grid reliability and reduce its carbon footprint. Sunverge is an open platform for creating a grid-aware energy source from fleets of behind-the-meter Distributed Energy Resources (DERs).

Use Cases for Utility Solar+Storage

Integrating storage into the grid is becoming a more popular and more lucrative way to add value to PV projects as well as the electrical grid. Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables’ estimates show a year-over-year growth of more than 50% in the non-residential storage market. Storage, whether integrated into a large-scale PV plant or as a stand-alone asset, can provide a variety of meaningful services to utilities.