US ups spending on energy storage

Steven Chu, President Obama’s Energy Secretary, has been making the case for a modest 2.3% increase in the renewables investment, reportsRenewables Biz. This would bring the total spend to USD$27 billion, of which $60 million has been earmarked for researching and expanding the uses of energy storage systems. The money would be in addition to $185 million given to 16 different storage projects via the 2009 stimulus plan.

Is this sort of spending a good deal for the US taxpayer? Although not directly related to energy storage, some Department of Energy figures, as reported in GreenTech Media, suggest it is; the Government says every tax dollar invested in solar projects attracts 20 more in private money. If true, then surely this is the sort of market distortion most of us can live with.


Your chance to boost EU energy storage

Don’t forget about the public consultation on the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) Energy Sector Lending Policy. The policy will decide where in the energy sector Europe is going to spend its citizens’ tax money, and it is our opportunity to persuade the Eurocrats that energy storage should feature prominently in the expenditure.

You have until 31 December 2012 to make the industry’s case and you can also attend a meeting that will take place on 7 December 2012 in Brussels. Additional information about this public consultation, including background material about the scope of the review, can be found on the EIB web site. Get involved and help promote the energy storage sector in Europe.

Scotland committed to pumped hydro

As reported yesterday exclusively in Marine Renewable Energy, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has let slip that the proposed development of offshore renewables in Scotland would include the creation of a new pumped-hydro storage facility in the Great Glen area.

This commitment comes as part of a recently announced plan to boost offshore wind power in Scotland with the opening of new Areva turbine plant that will manufacture nacelles and blades for deep-water wind farms in Scottish waters. The plant will employ 750 directly, and open in 2015.

Its exact location is yet to be decided, but is likely to be at Leith, on the Firth of Forth, or Dundee, both on the North Sea coast. The agreement between Areva and Scottish Enterprise, signed yesterday, will also include research and development activity.

Call for energy storage system campaign

“In order to make energy storage systems marketable as quickly as possible, we are calling for a 100,000 storage system campaign in Germany similar to the very successful 100,000 roof programme for photovoltaic systems,” says Karl-Heinz Remmers, the CEO of Solarpraxis AG and publisher of PV Magazine.
He added that: “These incentives can be created without any special energy storage legislation. Together with the incentives we would like to see a parallel scientific research programme established to sustainably promote the new energy economy.”
Remmers is adding to the growing chorus of renewable energy figures demanding that governments take energy storage more seriously as an investment issue and adds to the debate on how far public funds, including EU money, should be involved in the sector.

The “C” word in US politics

Did you count the number of times the “c” word was used in the presidential debates? By some accounts, it was just twice, and once only as a put-down to goad the incumbent president. Yes, the subject of climate change has been about as popular as corporate funding in the battle for the planet’s top job, which concludes today.

Is it not amazing that in the aftermath of “frankenstorm” Sandy, the Democrats can only talk about green job creation and the Republicans throw scorn at the whole idea of man-made climate change? Whilst it would be unscientific to blame a single event on anthropogenic global warming, should not Sandy at least serve as an illustration of the direction in which the weather could be heading if we do not reduce our dependence on fossil fuels?

Apparently, the answer from the brave men who aspire to run America is “no comment.”

Energy storage will “topple dictators”

MIT professor Donald Sadoway is already something of a legend thanks to his ground-breaking research on liquid metal batteries and his barnstorming presentations promoting the technology as the future of energy storage.

But his profile, and that of energy storage in general, can only have been enhanced when he went head-to-head with faux right-wing blow-hard, Stephen Colbert, on Comedy Central’s hit showThe Colbert Report.

Sadoway did a great job explaining the importance of energy storage in allowing renewables to play a bigger part in America’s grid system and thus reduce the country’s reliance on oil as a strategic resource, receiving plenty of applause from an enthusiastic studio audience when he underlined how this could promote world peace.

Responding to criticism that he has received Department of Energy money, Sadoway noted that, unlike Solyndra, the famously defunct solar developer, his MIT spin-out was engaged in basic research and thus a more worthy recipient of the taxpayer’s largesse. Needless to say, the appearance attracted a lot of media attention, and Sadoway found himself the toast of energy storage-savvy Tweeters.

Marine Renewable Energy

As noted in our recent editorial in Marine Renewable Energy, the UK faces a challenge in incorporating large amounts of renewable energy onto its grid without significant new flexible generation, demand-side response… or energy storage capacity. One solution might be for it to ‘borrow’ pumped hydro capacity from Scandinavia, via one of a couple of major interconnectors currently under investigation.This approach is feasible but not for the faint-hearted, Energy Storage Report has learned from Ilesh Patel, partner at the consultancy Baringa. “Is an interconnector to Norway an additional form of storage? The answer is yes,” he says. “Will that work all the time? It depends on the economies of arbitrage. You can only store power in Norway’s reservoirs when there’s an economic profit to be had by doing so.

“You might make that bet if you thought you might need that power next week, but it carries a risk with it.”