IRENA predicts battery storage costs to plummet

The cost of battery storage for stationary applications could fall by up to 66 per cent by 2030, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The falling price of batteries could stimulate 17-fold growth of installed battery storage, opening up new commercial and economic opportunities, the report highlights.

It also found that global storage capacity could triple if countries double the share of renewables in the energy system.

“As storage technology improves and prices decline, both utility-scale and small-scale, distributed applications could grow dramatically, accelerating renewables deployment” said IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin. “In this dynamic, low-carbon environment, now is a crucial time for storage technology. This research demonstrates that the business case for renewables continues to strengthen, positioning it firmly as a low-cost and secure source of energy supply.”

The report, which is focused on stationary applications, highlights that while pumped-hydro systems currently dominate total installed power storage capacity, with 96 per cent of the installed electricity storage power globally, economies of scale and technology breakthroughs will support the accelerated development and adoption of alternative storage technologies, such as lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and flow batteries.

Stationary electricity storage can directly drive rapid decarbonisation in other key segments of energy use, such as in the transport sector where the viability of battery storage for electric vehicles is improving fast. At the end of 2016, the cost of Li-ion batteries had fallen by as much as 73 per cent for transport applications from 2010.

While Li-ion batteries in stationary applications have a higher installed cost than those used in EVs, in Germany, small-scale Li-ion battery systems have also seen their total installed costs fall by 60 per cent between 2014 and the second quarter of this year.

“The growth of lithium-ion battery use in electric vehicles and across the transport sector over the next 10 to 15 years is an important synergy that will help drive down battery costs for stationary storage applications,” said Dolf Gielen, director of the IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre and an author of the report. “The trend towards electrified mobility will also open up opportunities for electric vehicles to provide vehicle-to-grid services, helping feed a virtuous circle of renewable energy and storage integration.

“Storage technology will deliver service flexibility to the grid and electricity storage to small-scale rooftop solar applications in markets where commercial and residential electricity rates are high, and grid feed-in remuneration is declining,” added Gielen.

The report states that by 2030, the calendar life of Li-ion batteries could also increase by approximately 50 per cent, while the number of full cycles possible could potentially increase by as much as 90 per cent.

Kamstrup unveils narrowband IoT comms for meters

Danish metering solutions company Kamstrup has announced that it is investing heavily in narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) communication for its electricity meters.

Henrik Mørck Mogensen of the company’s electricity division said communication modules and meters with integrated NB-IoT have already been developed and successfully tested. Pilot tests are planned for spring next year and a commercial solution will be available in the next 12-18 months, he added.

“After years of comprehensive analysis of new communication technologies, it is clear that NB-IoT stands head and shoulders above the rest, especially in terms of interoperability. We strongly believe that the combination of NB-IoT and our tried and tested radio mesh solution is the communication infrastructure of the future for smart electricity metering,” said Mogensen. He added that several successful tests have been carried out on Kamstrup’s NB-IoT solution, one of which was on Vodafone’s live network in Ireland, where Kamstrup’s meters remotely connected back to the hosting centre in Denmark.

Another was a multi-vendor lab test carried out in Vodafone’s open lab in Düsseldorf, Germany, on both Huawei and Ericsson radio network equipment.

According to Kamstrup, the tests have “confirmed the maturity of NB-IoT technology and proven the flexibility of the solution in terms of its ability to function with different networks”.

“A major benefit of NB-IoT is that it uses existing infrastructure that’s maintained by the telcos, so utilities have the potential to significantly reduce their capital expenditure,” said Mogensen.

“Plus, due to its massive global industry backing NB-IoT and high degree of standardization, NB-IoT remains the best bet for achieving full interoperability.

“Ultimately, adding NB-IoT to our portfolio is about giving utilities the flexibility to choose the solution, which works best for them. That could be our radio mesh solution, it could be NB-IoT, or it could be a combination of both.”

“For utilities, one of the great things about the combined solution is that it’s easy to make the switch as and when you like, on whatever section of your network you wish. Whether it’s in the next year or two or further down the line, future-proof options are there for you.”

Kamstrup said it is working with several telecommunications groups globally “to find the right model for pricing and service level that will ensure that utilities can get a robust NB-IoT solution at an attractive cost”.

PassivSystems and partners launch fully-automated solar PV buyback service

UK-headquartered technology company PassivSystems and its sister company arto.energy have partnered with Just Energy Solutions to provide a fully-automated solar PV buyback service.

The company says the service – said to be the first of its kind in Britain – will allow homeowners and commercial businesses to benefit from early equity release in rooftop solar PV systems.

PassivSystems said its proprietary energy management software PassivPro provides a fully-automated Feed-in Tariff management suite to help administer FiT registrations and quarterly FiT read submissions via a secure web portal.

This it says allows JES “to simplify the entire process for managing solar PV equity release schemes by providing real-time document storage, auditable workflows, FiT migration and automation, change of ownership, and ongoing operational and maintenance support services”.

PassivSystems chief executive Colin Calder said: “Acquiring solar PV assets from residential and commercial customers used to be a complex and time consuming procedure. Each step requires meticulous data recording. The administration and coordination required to switch FiT licensee, change of ownership and meter exchange can be quite daunting.

“Together with arto.energy we’ve made every effort to simplify this process through automating as much of the process as possible while providing full visibility of the switching process.”

“Often taking up to six weeks to complete an acquisition; we’re now able to reduce this timeframe to just 14 days, from customer signing to project completion.”

Director of Just Energy’s Solar Buyback Division, David Ring said: “Nobody had really thought about the value and investment opportunities offered by solar PV assets and FiT payments.

“As the founding company of the solar buyback industry, we were the first to realise the potential in this market and the attractiveness of this model for businesses, home owners and investors. Having developed the UK’s first buyback solution, we’re now using PassivPro to acquire and manage between 30 and 50 solar PV systems per month throughout the UK on behalf of our investors.”

Siemens in digitalization partnership with Sheffield University

A new partnership between Siemens and the University of Sheffield is being launched to accelerate digitalization, boost digital skills, and promote technology and knowledge exchange to meet the needs of increasingly-digitalised industry.

The agreement marks the first collaboration for a new UK-wide digitalization network to link universities with the Internet of Things.

It comes as the widespread adoption of digitalization, the technology behind Industry 4.0 or the ‘4th Industrial Revolution’, such as that being tested at the University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050, is seen as crucial to UK competitiveness and productivity.

The partnership is based on the MindSphere Innovation Network developed by Siemens to connect a university’s estate and research assets into its IoT platform, MindSphere. It then makes this data available to improve teaching and research collaborations between academics and industry partners, to uncover new business models and create commercial opportunities through digitalisation.

In addition to linking its estate and research assets into MindSphere and acting as a living lab to help equip graduates with the skills they will need in an ever increasingly digitalized industry, the University of Sheffield and Siemens have also invested in a bespoke space for collaboration and learning between students, local businesses and other partners.

Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens UK, who has led the UK government’s Industrial Digitalization Review, said: “Using digital technologies to transform business operations is key for the UK to drive competitiveness, improve national productivity and take advantage of the commercial opportunities offered by an increasingly digitalised industry. The launch of the MindSphere Innovation Network in Sheffield will allow universities to translate their research into real world impact by harnessing the power of digitalisation.”

Kamstrup unveils narrowband IoT communications for electricity meters

Danish metering solutions company Kamstrup has announced that it is investing heavily in narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) communication for its electricity meters.

Henrik Mørck Mogensen of the company’s electricity division said communication modules and meters with integrated NB-IoT have already been developed and successfully tested. Pilot tests are planned for spring next year and a commercial solution will be available in the next 12-18 months, he added.

“After years of comprehensive analysis of new communication technologies, it is clear that NB-IoT stands head and shoulders above the rest, especially in terms of interoperability. We strongly believe that the combination of NB-IoT and our tried and tested radio mesh solution is the communication infrastructure of the future for smart electricity metering,” said Mogensen.

He added that several successful tests have been carried out on Kamstrup’s NB-IoT solution, one of which was on Vodafone’s live network in Ireland, where Kamstrup’s meters remotely connected back to the hosting centre in Denmark. Another was a multi-vendor lab test carried out in Vodafone’s open lab in Düsseldorf, Germany, on both Huawei and Ericsson radio network equipment.

According to Kamstrup, the tests have “confirmed the maturity of NB-IoT technology and proven the flexibility of the solution in terms of its ability to function with different networks”.

“A major benefit of NB-IoT is that it uses existing infrastructure that’s maintained by the telcos, so utilities have the potential to significantly reduce their capital expenditure,” said Mogensen. “Plus, due to its massive global industry backing NB-IoT and high degree of standardization, NB-IoT remains the best bet for achieving full interoperability.

“Ultimately, adding NB-IoT to our portfolio is about giving utilities the flexibility to choose the solution, which works best for them. That could be our radio mesh solution, it could be NB-IoT, or it could be a combination of both.”

Schneider Electric upgrades demand-side energy management software

Schneider Electric has upgraded its demand-side energy management software platform EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor.

The cloud-based platform is targeted at facility and energy managers and is designed to enable dynamic and flexible onsite control of distributed energy resources within a building or plant.

Schneider Electric says EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor “is designed to simplify the integration of DER and allow facility managers and microgrid operators to collect, forecast and automatically optimize the operation of onsite resources using real-time data and predictive machine learning algorithms”.

This allows customers to adapt the microgrid’s control strategy to optimize the generation resource, adding greater efficiency and flexibility to the operation. The software-as-a-service platform can also integrate with Schneider Electric’s Energy Control Centre, which helps manage DER communication during islanding or microgrid mode via an interactive web interface.

Among the new features to EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor are: a storm hardening mode to allow monitoring of detailed weather forecasts to anticipate incoming severe storms and take the site out of optimization mode if needed; a CHP and thermal view to monitor CHP systems for thermal efficiency and performance while in utility connected or island mode; and cybersecurity upgrades that protect sites from external hacking threats.

Rolls-Royce in technology pact with G+L innotec

Rolls-Royce has acquired from G+L innotec the exclusive rights of use for a new technology for the electrically-assisted charging of off-highway combustion engines in the power range above 450 kW.

The new invention from the development and engineering firm based in Laupheim in Germany is protected by patents and has thus not been available on the market to date.

Rolls-Royce plans to offer engines of its MTU brand with this technology as of 2021. “Electrically-assisted charging is a milestone on the way to the hybridising of the engine. Using this technology, it will be possible for us to develop agile, low-consumption engines,” said Dr Johannes Kech, Director of Development Turbocharging & Fluid Systems at MTU.

MTU and G+L innotec will complete the next stages of development on the basis of a close partnership. The electrically-assisted charging system comprises an electric drive combined with a traditional turbocharger developed and manufactured by MTU.

As a result, the turbocharger can be accelerated electrically and the charge pressure built up earlier. In operating conditions, in which the energy required for a faster charge pressure of the turbine would normally not be sufficient, it is also possible to build up with the aid of the electric drive.

Using the technology developed by G+L innotec, MTU will be able to increase the load response capabilities of generator drives. It will also be possible to reduce engine fuel consumption and emissions in various applications. Due to the increased load response capability, emergency standby gensets will be able to deliver their full output even faster than before. This technology is ideally suited to diesel and gas engines.

To provide the turbocharger with electrical assistance, a permanent magnet is installed upstream of the compressor wheel and the electrical winding is integrated into the casing of the compressor.