SolarReserve Flips the Switch on South African Solar Project

Jasper Solar Power ProjectSolarReserve has flipped the switch on what they call the largest solar project in South Africa. The 96 MW Jasper solar power project completed construction two months early and is producing at full capacity. The solar farm is located in South Africa’s Northern Cape in a solar park that also includes the 75 MW Lesedi solar power project which came online in May, and the proposed 100 MW Redstone concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plant featuring SolarReserve’s CSP technology with integrated energy storage.

As part of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), the project will set aside a percentage of total project revenues for Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development for the benefit of the local communities.

“In addition to helping South Africa meet its critical electricity needs, the Jasper Project will bring long lasting economic benefits to the region,” said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “We look forward to continuing this positive momentum and bringing value to South Africa through collaboration on further projects, including our upcoming CSP projects that will provide South Africa with clean, reliable and non-intermittent electricity, day and night.”

With over 325,000 PV modules, the Jasper Project will deliver 180,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity annually for South Africa residents – enough to power up to 80,000 households through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom, the South African power utility company. Selected by the South Africa Department of Energy (DOE) in the second round of bids under the REIPPPP, the project also marked Google’s first renewable energy investment in Africa.

Green Charge Networks Closes $56M Capital Raise

Green Charge Networks has closed a $56 million capital raise. K Road DG is providing funding and strategic management services to the company to enable them to accelerate deployment of GreenStation, under Green Charge’s Power Efficiency Agreement (PEASM). According to the company, the funding round is the largest amount of capital raised by any company in the intelligent energy storage space.

Green Charge offers an energy storage product that they say is proven to reduce power demand charges for commercial and industrial customers on their monthly utility bills. Green Charge’s GreenStation has been successfully installed by 7-Eleven, Walgreens, UPS, school campuses, and cities across New York and California. Now with the PEASM, Green Charge will own and operate energy storage assets deployed at customer sites, while providing the customer with a powerful combination of utility bill savings, zero capital and maintenance costs, and mitigated performance risk.

GCN_Stacked_Logo“Power efficiency is the next frontier in energy savings,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge. “We plan to leverage the alliance and financing from K Road DG to scale our company’s deployments and continue our customer-centric innovations.”

Green Charge Network explains that similar to a solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), the PEASM shifts the performance burden onto Green Charge as the asset owner instead of the customer. This type of financing model was key to spreading distributed solar around the globe, but has not been available in the energy storage market until now. This financing allows Green Charge to serve the broadest cross-section of the market.

“We are excited to enter into this strategic alliance and to provide growth capital that will drive deployment of Green Charge’s innovative technology to C&I customers on a commercial scale,” added William Kriegel, CEO of K Road DG. “K Road DG believes that Green Charge’s technology solutions respond directly to a global demand for intelligent energy storage.”

Market research firm IHS predicts that the energy storage market is expected to grow to an annual installation rate of over 40 GW by 2022 — from only 0.34 GW in 2012 and 2013.

CGI America Launches Feed-Out Program

The world is about to see the first market-based, fixed-price funding program for solar and renewable technologies through a Feed-Out Program. The program, the brain-child of the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) and Demeter Power Group, has a goal of helping modernize the nation’s power grid with distributed energy.

Clinton Global Initiative logo“The Feed-Out Program will bring together independent power producers and financiers to enable the lowest-cost, fixed-price offering for renewable energy,” said Michael Wallander, Demeter Power Group founder and president. “But unlike other similar ‘feed-in-tariff’ programs, the energy will be used on the customer-side of the meter.”

According to CGI, $1 trillion a year – a total of $36 trillion – is needed for investment in sustainable energy infrastructure to successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. The Program will help tackle this challenge focusing primarily on funding for solar energy while also enabling cost-effective investment in energy storage, fuel cells and electrical vehicle car charging stations.

Yann Brandt, Demeter Co-Founder and EVP of Development noted, “What retail tenant or business owner would not want to save money on their energy bills while offering customers and employees the ability to shade their cars and power up with solar energy? We enable funding for solar-powered carports with electric vehicle charging stations at a net-negative cost to the customer.”

Demeter Power Group logoDemeter is contributing its finance mechanism – PACE3P – to help overcome credit-related challenges that have prevented scalable finance programs in the past. Demeter explained that PACE3P ties services fees to the buildings where the energy is used through a voluntary assessment on property tax bills.

Initially the Program will make financing available to commercial properties located in Northern California communities participating in the California FIRST property assessed clean energy (PACE) Program offered through the California Statewide Community Development Authority. Interested participants must register with Demeter to participate in the platform, which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2015.

CSP: ELEMENTS Awarded to Southern Research Institute

Southern Research Institute has signed a jointly funded cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the DOE’s new Concentrating Solar Power: Efficiently Leveraging Equilibrium Mechanisms for Engineering New Thermochemical Storage (CSP: ELEMENTS) funding program. The program is part of the SunShot Initiative. CSP: ELEMENTS supports the development of high-temperature thermochemical energy storage (TCES) systems that enable concentrating solar power plants to produce electricity in the evenings and even overnight when the sun is no longer shining.

“Southern Research Institute is excited and honored to be selected by DOE for this project,” said Michael D. Johns, vice president engineering at Southern Research Institute. “We are proud to be recognized for our leadership in alternative energy, and the development of this innovative thermochemical storage system is in great alignment with the work at our recently established Southeast Solar Research Center, where we design, test, and validate technologies throughout the solar energy spectrum.”

CSP technology employs mirrors that concentrate reflected sunlight onto receivers containing heat transfer fluids. From there, the fluids are used to heat water, which in turn generates steam that is used to power turbines and produce electricity. By adding thermal storage to these facilities they are able to operate at significantly higher capacity factors and produce approximately double the energy for the same size power facility. In addition, the production of electricity can be shifted to occur at the same time as peak power demand, making the electricity much more valuable.

More specifically, the Southern Research Institute project will develop a TCES system that uses a low-cost calcium-based sorbent in a reversible closed-loop endothermic-exothermic chemical reaction cycle. The system stores energy during mid-day when sunlight is plentiful in the endothermic step, and then releases energy when the sun is no longer shining during the exothermic step, allowing for electricity to be produced in a more stable and consistent fashion. This TCES system is projected to cost less than a current state-of-the-art molten salt storage systems, and will be able to store the same amount of energy in a system about one-sixth the size. Continue reading

UCR Unveils Sustainable Grid Initiative

The University ofSIGI-graphic California, Riverside has launched its Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative to research the integration of intermittent renewable energy including photovoltaic solar panels, energy storage including batteries, and all types of electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The project is the largest of its kind in the state.

“This project puts UC Riverside at the forefront of smart grid and electric vehicle research, providing a unique platform for engineers and utilities to identify and solve potential problems at scale,” said Matthew Barth, lead investigator of the initiative and the director of UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT). Continue reading

Green Charge Networks Help Save Green

Green Charge Networks can help retail chain customers and city municipalities save some green. The company, which specializes in intelligent energy storage, has signed agreements for 1 MW of energy storage with several organizations that are looking to reduce their electricity bills via smart grid technologies.

GreenStationFor example, it is common in California and New York City for business to pay 40 percent or more for their monthly electric bill in “demand charges” based on their electricity use during peak times. To reduce these costs, Green Charge Network uses its GreenStation technology. It works by collecting utility and weather data to predict peak use and store energy accordingly.

7-Eleven stores have been using GCN’s GreenStation successfully for the past two years. One 7-Eleven GreenStation in New York endured Hurricane Sandy and then went on to save the business 56 percent on their electricity bills during the 2013 summer heat wave. Green Charge Networks is adding to its list of customers including 7-Eleven, Walgreens, office buildings, community colleges, and municipalities, adding up to 1 MW as listed on the DOE’s Global Energy Storage Database.

“It is a big accomplishment to our company to help businesses and local governments use power more efficiently,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge Networks. “1 MW marks a very significant milestone for Green Charge Networks as we continue to diversify our customer base and increase our penetration in the rapidly growing intelligent energy storage market. Energy efficiency initiatives can only take us so far. The era of power efficiency using advanced software is the next frontier in energy savings.”

It is no secret that America’s aging grid needs to be reborn. Yet with the billions, if not trillions, of dollars it would take to accomplish this and ongoing fights on who should pay for the updates (utilities/consumers or state and federal governments) smart grid technologies can help immediately reduce electricity demand on the overstressed grid.

Experts also say that they are also a good tool in both climate change adaptation and mitigation. Green Charge Networks points out that GreenStation is designed to withstand storms as fierce as Hurricane Sandy or temperatures as extreme as the recent polar vortex. In addition, Green Charge Networks says if smart grid technologies like GreenStation were implemented nationally they could save the energy equivalent of 4,000 coal plants per year.

Crescent Solar Energy Project Commissioned

SolarReserve has confirmed that the 110 megawatt (MW) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project located near Tonopah, Nevada, has entered the plant commissioning phase. According to the company, Crescent Dunes is the first utility-scale facility in the world to feature advanced molten salt power tower energy storage capabilities. The Crescent Dunes Project is more than five times the capacity output of pilot projects that have previously tested this technology.

Due to the result of the advanced energy storage technology, the 110 MW project will generate more than 500,000 megawatt-hours per year, enough to power 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods. This annual output, says the company, is more than twice that of other technologies per MW of capacity, such as photovoltaics (PV) or direct steam solar thermal. The storage technology also eliminates the need for any backup fossil fuels, such as natural gas, which are needed with other technologies to keep the system going during times of no or low solar resource. Nevada’s largest electric utility, NV Energy, will purchase 100 percent of the electricity generated, under a 25-year power purchase agreemenSOLARRESERVE CRESCENT DUNESt. Full commercial operation is scheduled for later in 2014.

Commissioning is the initial stage of bringing the project into operations and includes system-by-system verification and startup, as well as equipment calibration and testing. Commissioning activities underway at Crescent Dunes include energization of the utility interconnection system and other electrical systems, as well as the first stages of testing and calibration of the heliostat field. This heliostat field is comprised of more than 10,000 “billboard-sized” mirrors that track the sun and total more than 1 million square meters of glass.

“Start of commissioning of the Crescent Dunes solar power plant marks a critical milestone for the project as well as the solar industry. We are now able to build utility-scale power plants, fueled only by the sun, which operate on-demand, day and night, just like traditional fossil fuel or nuclear power plants,” said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “SolarReserve’s industry-leading solar thermal energy storage technology solves the intermittency issue that limits the use of other renewable energy projects and thus enables firm, reliable delivery of electricity whether or not the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.”

SolarReserve’s energy storage technology at the Crescent Dunes plant is their techology showcase. They say it is a realistic solar energy solution that operates day and night like coal, natural gas, oil, diesel and nuclear plants, but without the harmful emissions or hazardous wastes associated those traditional plants. Additionally, Crescent Dunes includes the capability to dry cool the steam cycle, an environmentally friendly low water use feature that will saves millions of gallons of water each year. Once operational, the 110 MW Crescent Dunes plant will be the world’s largest solar thermal plant with fully integrated energy storage.

Princeton Power, EnStorage Awarded BIRD Grant

Princeton Power Systems and EnStorage have been awarded a $950,000 grant from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD). The grant will support the commercialization and deployment of an energy storage system based on EnStorage’s proprietary hydrogen bromide (HBr) flow battery and Princeton Power Systems’ inverters and site controller. The first system will be deployed to support a photovoltaic (PV) installation and would be able to support the grid for at least six hours per day for a minBIRD winner logosimum of 20 years.

“The BIRD Foundation grant will enable our companies to develop a comprehensive solution for PV installations and various other applications,” said Marshall Cohen, Chairman of Princeton Power Systems. “We aim to develop inverters as well as software for EnStorage’s HBr technology to add to our long-term energy-storage offering.”

The commercial system will be a 150kW/900kWH containerized system, to be based on EnStorage’s grid connected 50kW/100kWH technology demonstrator.

“Our partnership with Princeton Power Systems will allow us to expedite the commercialization of our technology,” said Arnon Blum, CEO of EnStorage. “The ability to deploy our battery at a customer site and rely on Princeton Power Systems’ experience in optimizing the interaction between the grid and our battery’s performance will serve as a significant step for future deployments.”

Abengo’s Solana Solar Plant Acheives Milestone

World-wide renewable energy company Abengoa has announced that Solana, the world’s largest parabolic trough plant with a total installed capacity of 280 gross megawatts (MW) and also the first solar plant in the United States with thermal energy storage, has successfully passed commercial operation tests. Abengoa says this milestone marks a major accomplishment for the company and the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) industry. The solar plant has the ability to provide electricity for nearly 70,000 average sized homes.

Solana is the first solar plant in the U.S. with a thermal energy storage system that is able to generate electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field. This is a turning point for renewable energy in the U.S., serving as a tangible demonstration that solar energy can be stored and dispatched upon demand.

Solana solar power plantSolana, located near Gila Bend and about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, Arizona, began construction in 2010 and, on Monday, October 7, successfully fulfilled production forecasts required to-date and testing for commercial operation. These tests included operating at the turbine’s full capacity while charging the thermal storage system, continuing to produce electricity after the sun goes down, and starting up the plant and producing six hours of electricity using only the thermal storage system. These tests successfully demonstrated the various operation modes of the plant’s operation.

Abengoa’s first utility-scale solar plant in the United States employs parabolic trough technology. This technology consists of parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on structures that track the sun and concentrate the sun’s heat, later transforming water into steam and powering a conventional steam turbine. This mature technology has additional value since the heat can also be stored and used to produce clean electricity after the sun goes down or during a transitory period.

This ability to generate electricity when needed, or dispatchability, is one of the unique characteristics of concentrating solar power versus other types of renewable energy sources. The six hours of clean energy generated by Solana’s thermal storage system without the use of the solar field will satisfy Arizona’s peak electricity demands during the summer evenings and early nighttime hours. Dispatchability also eliminates intermittency issues that other renewables, such as wind and photovoltaics, contend with, providing stability to the grid and thus increasing the value of the energy generated by CSP.

Arizona Public Service (APS), the largest utility in Arizona, will purchase all of the electricity produced by the solar plant for 30 years through a power purchase agreement with Abengoa.

Airborne Wind Energy Systems See Advancements

According to Airborne Wind Energy Labs, a major problem stalling the advance of renewable energy is that electrical energy cannot be stored economically. However, the company says that an airborne wind conversion system, directly charging thermal energy storage, could become the first economical energy storage technology not dependent on specific and rare location features.

gI_58601_Device_2_smallerThe proposed system converts wind energy directly into heat, which is stored in a low cost thermal storage, then used to drive a steam turbine and produce electricity in the time of elevated demand or reduced supply. The system does not require rare or expensive materials, components or construction techniques.

Existing renewable energy approaches also do not address the need in vehicle fuels says Airborne Wind Energy Systems. This need is not satisfied by battery powered electric vehicles because of high cost and low durability of the batteries. Synthetic fuels can be manufactured from natural gas using airborne wind energy, at lower cost than by traditional methods and without excessive gas use.

These technologies are currently being discussed, along with others at the Airborne Wind Energy Conference currently taking place in Berlin. This year attendees from more than 24 countries are participating in the conference.

US Navy Battery Testing Facility Goes Solar

The Battery Innovation Center in Newberry, Indiana, adjacent to the US Navy’s largest battery testing and research base, is the home of an isola solar power carport developed by renewz sustainable solutions. The solar charging carport system is the first energy lab in the country to feature Silfab solar panel technology.

gI_80421_Ltgovindiana“The completion and deployment took just a matter of days for this first solar power canopy on our new facility grounds,” said Charles LaSota, President of the Battery Innovation Center. “renewz’ rapid-assembly design, combined with an innovative solar technology and power management package, proved to be fastest and least disruptive to our operations of any others we found on the market, something we believe will be of great importance to future opportunities for our armed force bases in their pursuit of energy independence around the world. The need for robust solar-recharged energy storage operating systems becomes more apparent as the number of electric vehicles in our defense arenas increases.”

“Built right at the front steps of the US Navy’s largest battery development facility,” said Sass M. Peress, CEO of renewz, “this modular two-car solar canopy took just two days to assemble without need for any foundation trenching thanks to its ballasted design. Having now built several solar carports in 2013 of this type, our technology and team have clearly demonstrated how armed forces, educational institutions, governments, power utility and corporate entities around the world can quickly and easily deploy renewable, clean energy supplies for their electrical vehicle charging infrastructure, while powering their electric fleets towards true ‘zero-emission’ targets.”

Paolo Maccario,General Manager and COO of Silfab added that his company understands the importance of batter energy storage for the continued expansion of alternative energy. He also noted that the mission critical operations of the country’s armed forces require robust, reliable and innovative solutions.

“This aligns with the business philosophy Silfab prides itself of. High density and “smart” solar PV modules are just some examples of such innovation. I wish to congratulate all the partners in this project for sharing the same relentless pursuit of perfection and technological advancement,” concluded Maccario.

UConn Establishes New Fraunhofer Center

The University of Connecticut (UConn), has established a new Fraunhofer Center for Energy Innovation (CEI). The role of the center is to develop advanced technologies related to energy storage, fuel cells, in-stream hydro, power management and distribution through contact research.

Dr George Rosenfeld,jpg“The sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly use of energy is one of the major global challenges of the future,” said Fraunhofer President Professor Reimund Neugebauer during a dedicated ceremony. “Consequently, we combine our advanced energy competencies in the USA with an excellent research partner, the University of Connecticut. The Fraunhofer Center for Energy Innovation expands Fraunhofer USA’s portfolio of energy related technologies and will closely cooperate with the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) in Boston.”

Fraunhofer and UConn will cooperate in several areas. In order to develop highly efficient and cost-effective energy conversion and storage systems, the research will concentrate on modern functional materials, such as metals, ceramics, micro-and nanostructures, as components for fuel cells and electrolyzers. On the UConn campus, components and subsystems will be validated and integrated into flexible microgrid architectures. New methods of membrane and catalyst preparation will be developed, particularly for energy-efficient biofuel production.

“The Fraunhofer Center for Energy Innovation (CEI) combines the expertise of the founding partners for the development and commercialization of new materials and technologies to improve future energy production and storage owing to an efficient use of resources,” added Dr. Prabhakar Singh, the director of the Center. His aim is to accelerate the global supply of affordable and sustainable energy technologies.

Rice Solar Energy Project Gets Green Light

SolarReserve has been given the green light from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to sell power from its 150 megawatt solar project under an amended 25-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). According to the company, the Rice Solar Energy Project will be the first large-scale solar project in the state to include energy storage capabilities.

artist_picture_of_rice solar energy projectLocated in eastern Riverside County, and sited on privately owned and previously disturbed land in the Sonoran Desert, the Rice Solar Energy Project, with eight hours of full power energy storage, should generate more than 450,000 megawatt hours annually of energy – enough to power more than 65,000 homes during peak electricity periods. The solar project will utilize a dry-cooled system to minimize water usage in the desert location resulting in less than 20 percent of the water used per kilowatt of electricity produced by conventional coal or nuclear facilities. Financing activities are underway, and the project is expected to break ground in early of 2014 with commercial operation scheduled for mid-2016.

CPUC Commissioner Ferron said of the project, “In my personal view, projects like the Rice Solar Energy Project will be important to demonstrate that we can firm and shape intermittent renewables with clean technology, not just with fossil technology.”

The hope for the project is that it will be more flexible in terms of being able to support renewable integration to the grid.

“SolarReserve’s market leading technology is a true alternative to conventional generators and can provide firm and reliable electricity as needed by the utility or system operator, day and night,” added SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith. “This capability will be crucial as California progresses towards its 33 percent renewable target. We are also making tremendous strides in exporting this proven U.S. technology worldwide to markets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and our projects in Nevada and California help establish the U.S. as an innovation leader in alternate energy.”