Tag: Battery Storage

Outgoing JPS President Kelly Tomblin.

Power utility Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) plans to build a 24.5-megawatt facility to store energy as a safeguard against power outages.

It’s described as the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

JPS plans to build the facility next year, but no cost was disclosed up to press time. It will act like a giant battery that charges when solar- or wind-energy plants generate energy. It then kicks into action, the less power these renewable plants generate due to cloud cover or low wind speeds.

“The proposed initiative will allow JPS to provide a high-speed response when the output from renewables is suddenly reduced to mitigate stability and power quality issues that cause outages to customers,” stated JPS in a release.

The company did not respond immediately to questions seeking more details. It initially said the release, which appeared on the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s website, was not meant to be made public until Monday.

Peak energy usage in Jamaica starts at 6.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m, which represents a leisure peak, rather than an economic development peak. That becomes important as solar plants reduce power generation just as the peak period starts.


Additionally, wind farms optimally generate power at nights but after peak periods. The storage facility would, therefore, provide value as it comes into effect at peak periods utilising the power already stored.

The facility requires regulatory approval from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) but in anticipation, the JPS board of directors last week signed off on the hybrid energy storage solution, the release stated. The project involves construction of a 24.5MW facility at the Hunts Bay Power Plant Substation, and will be a combination of high-speed and low-speed flywheels and containerised lithium-ion batteries. Once approved for construction, it would become operational by the third quarter of 2018.

“The innovation will help to secure grid stability and reliability in the face of increasing intermittent renewable energy. The energy storage solution will have power readily available in the event that solar and wind renewable systems, suddenly lose power due to cloud cover, reduced wind or other interruptions,” stated the release.

It will also provide a much faster, cost effective and environmentally friendly spinning reserve or backup as an alternative to traditional generation spinning reserve which is required by the company.


Additionally, the JPS is seeking to convert more generating units to use liquefied natural gas (LNG). This will result in increased flexibility of the generating units, as the JPS moves to ensure that customers have a more reliable, affordable and sustainable quality service. JPS continues to steadily diversify from solely heavy oil fuel to include natural gas and some 115MW of renewables.

Energy efficiency is now an integral part of JPS’ push to become a more modern and cleaner energy provider.

Jamaica has an energy intensity of approximately 4,800 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per US$1,000 of gross domestic product. To put that into perspective, last December outgoing JPS president Kelly Tomblin described it as one of the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. She indicated that such inefficient use of energy constrains Jamaica’s growth.

The country, however, has made some gains in its efficiency drive. It ranked 92nd in the World Economic Forum’s Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017, up from 98 the year before.

The rise in rank was attributed to the 80MW of renewables added in 2016 and plans for an additional 100MW of renewable this year.

In Jamaica last year, Wigton Wind Farm III added 24MW of renewable capacity, BMR Windfarm added 36.3MW, and WRB Content Solar, 20MW. The country saved around US$18 million (J$2.3 billion) in oil imports based on the 80MW renewable energy projects.

Concurrently, those renewable projects saved 800,000 metric tonnes in toxic carbon emissions, according to the energy ministry.

BMW Is Turning Used i3 Batteries Into Home Energy Storage Units


Repurposed batteries could create a new revenue stream for EV customers. But it’s not yet clear how the buyback program will work.

by Julia Pyper
June 21, 2016
BMW is making a major push into the stationary energy storage market.

The German automaker announced that it is turning new and used i3 batteries into energy storage solutions for homes and small businesses. The company unveiled its plans at an electric vehicle symposium in Montreal.

“With a battery storage system electrified by BMW, our customers can take the next step toward a sustainable energy lifestyle. Coupled with the home-charging and solar energy programs, the system enables BMW drivers to embrace holistic sustainability beyond e-mobility,” said Rob Healey, manager of electric vehicle infrastructure for BMW North America, in a statement.

In an interview, Healey added that energy storage fits with BMW’s 360º Electric program, which currently offers customers electric vehicles, charging infrastructure and rooftop solar through a partnership with SolarCity. Through that partnership BMW i owners receive a $1,000 credit toward SolarCity’s home solar offer. BMW’s sustainability package sounds very similar to the type of solution Tesla wants to offer with its proposed acquisition of SolarCity.

“This is really a part of a much bigger puzzle for BMW that we’re putting together as we look out to the future,” said Healey. “We offer customers electric vehicles, we offer customers charging, and we offer customers access to solar panels and producing their own renewable energy. And now, with this next piece, we offer the customer an energy storage solution that fits into the overall picture of sustainability.”

The market-ready product currently uses i3 high-voltage batteries, but can be equipped to incorporate second-life batteries as they become available. There are relatively few of these used batteries on the market today, because the i3, an all-electric city car, has only been on the market since 2013. That will change as the lithium-ion batteries degrade over time and are no longer considered suitable for vehicle use. A repurposed battery can offer “many additional years of service,” according to BMW.

As i3 batteries reach the end of their automotive life, BMW and German-based Beck Automation plan to turn them into plug-and-play energy storage systems by unbolting them from the i3 and installing them in a Beck-designed charging module. The system is sized to fit conveniently in a basement or a garage where it can be used to power electrically operated devices in a home or to charge an electric car.

The energy storage units are equipped with BMW i3’s 22-kilowatt-hour or 33-kilowatt-hour capacity batteries, which are ideally suited to operate appliances and entertainment devices for up to 24 hours. A typical home in the U.S. consumes between 15 and 30 kilowatt-hours of energy per day.

The systems are outfitted with software to determine the optimal time to charge or discharge the system. The BMW storage system also includes a voltage converter and power electronics to manage the energy flow between renewable energy resources, the home and the battery.

“With this system, which integrates seamlessly with charging stations and solar panels, customers can offset peak energy costs and also enjoy the added security of an available backup energy supply during power outages,” according to the BMW press release.

Theoretically, this concept should give i3 drivers a new way to make money from their used cars by creating a market for second-life batteries. However, it’s not yet clear how a battery buyback program would work.

There are also a number of outstanding questions around battery design and cost. Tesla’s 6.4-kilowatt-hour home battery sells to installers for $3,000 and is estimated to retail for around $7,000. Can BMW’s 22-kilowatt-hour used battery get anywhere close to that price?

In addition, the product release timeline has yet to be determined. According to a spokesman, “BMW is currently evaluating a distribution/marketing strategy where pilot programs in the U.S. could start in 2017.”

BMW has been preparing to enter the stationary energy storage market for a number of years. In 2013, the automaker installed a microgrid application at the University of California San Diego using second-life Mini E batteries. In 2014, BMW integrated high-voltage batteries into a stationary storage system in Hamburg for Vattenfall that stores solar power as a buffer for fast-charging stations. In 2015, NextEra signed a contract for the delivery of 20 megawatt-hours of repurposed automotive batteries from the i3 and BMW’s ActiveE test fleet — which BMW claims is the largest contract of its kind in automotive history.

In addition, BMW continues to participate in an energy storage pilot projectwith Pacific Gas & Electric. Under the program, PG&E manages 100 kilowatts of demand from 100 active i3 vehicles and a stationary unit of repurposed BMW Mini E batteries located at BMW’s Mountain View office. The system was designed to test how electric vehicles and second-life batteries can offer reliability services to the grid. Last fall, BMW shared preliminary results showing that the system had delivered on more than two dozen demand response events called by the utility.

According to Cliff Fietzek, manager of connected e-mobility at BMW North America, past experience revealed that it’s very expensive to reconfigure batteries for reuse, which is why BMW developed a plug-and-play solution for it’s home battery. “We don’t have to put any special software in or take modules out and can take advantage of all of the engineering we put into producing the car battery,” he said. “We can use the same heating and cooling system for the car battery and the same safety mechanisms … there is not too much work to be done on the integration side, which saves a lot on cost and increases flexibility.”

However, the company will have to wait to see the results of its home battery pilot programs before really knowing what the cost and return on investment is, he added.

BMW is the latest auto company to get into stationary storage. Tesla has garnered an enormous amount of attention with the launch of its energy storage business and massive battery Gigafactory. Meanwhile, Toyota,General Motors and Nissan are actively testing stationary storage solutions and looking to make larger plays. Daimler/Mercedes-Benz introduced a stationary battery business in Europe last year, and is rumored to be launching a U.S. product this fall.

Green Tech Media

When it comes to grabbing headlines with visions of the future, few can beat entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk. He’s behind SpaceX, the rocket company that he sees as a vehicle to his dream of colonising Mars.

Better known, perhaps, are his Tesla electric cars, an increasingly common sight in the US and here in the UK.

While powerful rockets and fast cars might be the most exciting of Musk’s products, his hopes of changing the way we live are much more likely to be delivered by something much more prosaic – Tesla’s Powerwall. Much less glamorous than Musk’s other concepts, this plain white battery, intended to harness energy from renewable sources such as the wind and sun and make it available for household use or feed back into the power network, could have a far bigger impact than anything else the billionaire has dreamt up.

The concept behind these batteries in homes – which working together are known as a “distributed grid” – is that they will store up cheap electricity generated when demand is lower, then discharge it at peak times when energy from the traditional network supplied mainly by large power stations is expensive.

Not only do these batteries – known as “behind the meter” storage – raise the prospect of reducing households’ electricity costs by optimising the time they receive power, they could cut further bills by selling excess power back to the network at times of high demand. They could also provide an emergency back-up if the main grid fails.

There are other wider advantages to the system. Having batteries in every home solves the problem of solar and wind farms producing electricity when there is no demand for it and nowhere to store it, and they could also ease the current strain on the transmission grid as power is sent from large power stations. Perhaps most importantly, they could reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels by allowing green energy sources to be fully utilised without the worry of the wind dropping or the sun being hidden by clouds.

The whole idea might sound like a pipe dream, but it is becoming more a more real possibility. While Tesla is raising the profile of home energy storage, other less visible players are operating in the sector and already installing batteries in British houses.

However, last week just how seriously the concept is being taken was shown with a series of big moves in the sector. First came France, with oil giant Total on Monday announcing a £750m scheme to buy battery group Saft as it looked beyond the low oil price and to a future away from fossil fuels.

A day later, Engie, previously known as GDF Suez, revealed it had taken an 80pc stake in California start-up Green Charge Networks, a leading player in behind-the-meter batteries. But the most significant event came later the same day from automotive giant Nissan. As well as revealing it would begin using its Sunderland battery factory to start recycling the power packs from its Leaf electric cars for use as home power storage devices, the Japanese company said it had picked the UK for a much more important trial.

Under the title of Nissan Futures, it revealed a new vision for how electric cars will be used in the years ahead. A pilot project will see 100 Leaf cars plugging into the energy network and using their batteries as extra storage, in what it hopes could combine transport and energy in the future.

“As a company, we recognise there will be massive change in the future,” said Paul Willcox, Nissan’s European chairman. “There’s a revolution in the market and we need to think about how we evolve and what the car’s role is in society.”

The cost of power from solar is falling rapidly – down 40pc 2012, according to KPMG
The cost of power from solar is falling rapidly – down 40pc 2012, according to KPMG

Nissan’s plan is rather eloquent and effectively kills two birds with a single stone. The average Leaf uses only a quarter of its battery power before recharging, meaning there is a large capacity going spare for most of the time.  The Leaf’s 30 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery can store enough energy to supply the average home’s needs for two days according to Willcox, but under Nissan’s scheme, this capacity is put to much more practical use. By plugging in at home overnight, the cars charge up on cheap late-night electricity, but their batteries are available to feed into the network at times of peak demand.

Willcox says the trial envisages electric vehicles as “mobile power plants, energy hubs” with them plugging in to offer up their resources not just at homes overnight, but also at workplaces during the day.

A giant such as Nissan weighing into the sector shows just how seriously energy storage is being taken, and the fact that the former chief executive of National Grid, Steve Holliday, is on board only emphasises it.

Cynics might argue that the idea is fanciful at best, but Willcox is confident of its potential. “Oil may be cheap now, but that is not going to last forever and people are increasingly going to want electric vehicles – it makes sense to use them in this way,” he says, adding that while Tesla is a “credible company”, Nissan began making electric vehicles in the 1940s.

“Some may see this as blue sky thinking but it is real and tangible now,” Willcox adds. “Six or seven years ago, when we invested heavily in battery vehicles people laughed at us, but we have 230,000 Leafs on the road now.”

Holliday argues that moving to a distributed grid could that takes advantage of cheap energy makes sense. “In the future we could see a time when electrons are free,” he says. “On this island, we have times now when people effectively pay to use electricity because of the cost of having to shut down [existing power plants] when there is low demand.”

Nissan makes a convincing argument and is certainly planting its flag firmly in what is a land grab for a huge industry of the future, though Willcox concedes the whole car industry will need to work together for the potential of “vehicle to grid” to be realised.

However, for a distributed grid to work, there needs to be a major reform of legislation around the UK power market, according to industry body Energy Storage Network (ESN). “The current system of buying and selling electricity is not fit for purpose,” said ESN director Anthony Price. “The paradox is that almost everything except storing electricity is subsided.”

Almost 1m UK homes have solar panels and Price estimates that several tens of thousands of UK homes have battery systems. To get these figures closer to parity the process of storing electricity and selling it back to the grid needs to be overhauled. However, Price says that even without the benefits of these batteries being charged from renewable sources, the UK needs to invest in battery storage.

“We have a variable demand for energy because we are human,” he says. “We run generation to match demand and there is a lot of effort to meet the peaks – such as everyone switching on the kettle when Coronation  Street finishes – and that costs a lot, and the power is often from the dirtiest power plants which take time to be fired up.

Almost 1m UK homes have solar panels
Almost 1m UK homes have solar panels

“Battery storage – whether behind-the-meter or in community batteries at the end of the street – has the effect of taking out those peaks in demand and allows you to operate a much more efficient system.”

Cyrille Brisson, vice-president at global power management group Eaton, which is working with Nissan, agrees, saying that the present system requires large numbers of power stations ready to meet peak demands.

“At the moment we have to have massive over-capacity – which is expensive – to meet fluctuating demands, but with renewables you have unpredictable generation,” he says. “However, with storage in the middle you do not have to oversize everything. You get a ‘good load’ on the electricity grid where the spikes in generation and consumption are flattened out by the storage.”

Arguments that the wind might not blow or the sun won’t shine are false, argues Brisson, claiming that the “Sahara produces 100 times the wind and sun” to power the planet, and the technology for this “absolutely exists”.

He also warns against trying to subsidise the market to encourage the take-up of energy storage. “The worst thing you can do is subsidise it. The public think that renewables mean an extra tax on them, and regulation has got to make it clear it is not that. What is needed is a transparent market, so as the costs fall people will see it is cheaper.”

The cost of power from solar is falling rapidly – down 40pc 2012, according to KPMG – and Brisson argues that technological advances will soon make it as cheap as fossil fuels.

The Government also sees the potential in energy storage systems, having declared it one of eight “great technologies” it sees the UK as having the potential to become a world leader in. Nissan’s Willcox acknowledges this, noting the UK’s “encouraging” environment was a factor in picking Britain as the site for the global V2G pilot programme.

The public might find the idea of a battery in the home helping to solve complex problems about the UK’s energy needs hard to imagine. However, Joe Warren, chief executive of start-up Powervault, sees it a different way.

His company’s 4kWh batteries start at £2,500 and are capable of providing about a third of the needs of a typical British home, having charged themselves from roof mounted solar panels and Warren hopes to have 500 of them installed in Britain by the end of the year.

“There’s a massive transition away from centralised power generation,” he says, as news breaks that the cost of the long-delayed Hinkley Point nuclear power plant may rise by £3bn to £21bn. “It makes sense to decentralise when instead you can make small investments of £1m or £100m on wind farms or solar power stations.

“We hope to make a home battery as common as a dishwasher in every kitchen.”