CalCom Energy’s $100M Fund Targets Farms for Solar-Battery Systems

In California, it’s not just vulnerable families and critical services that could use battery-backed solar systems to ride through wildfire-prevention power outages. Farms also have critical energy needs, like pumping water to crops on set schedules, or chilling them after harvest, that could face significant disruption under the state’s new wildfire prevention regime. CalCom Energy, a long-time solar and energy services provider for California’s agricultural sector, thinks it has a solution. This week, the Fresno-based developer launched a $100 million Agriculture Energy Infrastructure Fund, aimed at combining low-cost solar power-purchase agreements with the backup power of energy storage.

University Team Developing Novel Low-Cost Energy Storage System

Two Cal Poly Pomona engineering professors have won a $149,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to continue development of a low-cost energy storage system using reverse osmosis concentrate (ROC), the byproduct of water desalinization plants. As droughts increase, more communities, especially in the Southwest U.S., are considering desalinization plants to meet their fresh water needs. However, ROC is harmful to the environment due to its high salt content, biocides, metals and coagulents. At the same time, the energy sector is looking for more cost-effective methods of energy storage.

Implications of Rate Design for the Customer-Economics of Behind-the-Meter Storage

This work provides insights for the two main sources of bill savings for residential and commercial customers – demand charge reductions and arbitrage of energy charges – considering a range of customer profiles and retail rate designs. Storage can reduce monthly demand charges, which are dependent on the customer’s billing demand in kW rather than the amount of energy they consume in kWh, by charging during times of low energy consumption and discharging during peak consumption hours, thereby reducing peak power consumption from the grid. Storage can also reduce electricity bills by charging the storage during low-priced hours and discharging during high-priced hours, taking advantage of price-differentials of time-varying rates. This study considers a variety of demand charge designs and rates that allow for energy arbitrage.

Long Read: The Dawn of Megastorage

Plummeting costs, industry maturity, and the ever-increasing penetration of global renewables are expanding the use cases for battery storage technology. Over the past year and a half, storage projects are increasing significantly in both scope and capacity.

Department of Energy Announces $40 Million in Funding for 29 Projects to Advance H2@Scale

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced approximately $40 million in FY 2019 funding for 29 projects to advance the H2@Scale concept. The focus of H2@Scale is to enable affordable and reliable large-scale hydrogen generation, transport, storage, and utilization in the United States across multiple sectors. Funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), with contribution from DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, the selected projects will advance hydrogen storage and infrastructure technologies and identify innovative concepts for hydrogen production and utilization including grid resiliency.

S&T Powers High-Tech, Living Laboratory with New Microgrids to Study Advanced Lead Battery Technologies

Missouri University of Science and Technology has installed two new advanced lead battery microgrid systems at the campus’s EcoVillage, a living laboratory of solar homes S&T students designed and built to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. Missouri S&T’s Microgrid Industrial Consortium is using the EcoVillage to test advanced lead battery energy storage in stationary grid-tied applications for potential use as a renewable energy source for communities of the future.

New Lithium Hydroxide Factory in Western Australia Wins Federal Approval

Earthworks for a new lithium hydroxide factory in Western Australia are expected to begin this month after the $1bn project received federal environmental approval. The plant owned by the world’s largest lithium producer, the US chemical company Albemarle, was approved by the Western Australian government in October and is estimated to create up to 500 jobs in construction, with another 100 to 500 operational jobs once it is operational. Australia’s trade minister, Simon Birmingham, said the plant would provide a much-needed local jobs boost and supply a growing global demand for lithium, which is used in renewable energy storage.

Mexico Gets Its First Grid-Scale Battery—at a Car Factory

Mexico energy authorities have been developing an energy storage strategy to balance out the country’s recent surge in solar power plants. What appears to be the first and largest battery to come online, though, does something else entirely. The 12-megawatt/12-megawatt-hour device switched on in October to deliver reliability and power quality at a 130-megawatt microgrid serving an automotive factory campus in Monterrey. The device handles spinning reserve, voltage support and frequency for the fully self-contained electrical system.