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Siemens preparing for surge in German utility-scale storage

September 6th, 2016

The German utility-scale electricity storage market is expected to grow by 5 per cent a year and increase to $1.1bn in value by 2019.

Siemens is in agreement with that data supplied by Bloomberg New Energy Finance with Frank Buechner, chief of Siemens’ Energy Management Division telling the Bloomberg news site the company expects demand for its battery storage systems to grow as much as 5 per cent annually into the foreseeable future.
Frank Buechner, chief of Siemens’ Energy Management Division
“Demand for utility-scale storage is much stronger than it was even just one or two years ago,” Buechner said in an interview in Leipzig. Germany’s plan to push renewable power to 80 percent of all electricity generation by 2050 “is a given and unthinkable without storage,” he said.

Thanks to its Energiewende policy, Germany has abundant renewable energy but that plenty has made it essential for the country to focus on storage as a means of managing new patterns of power generation and consumption.

According to BNEF installed capacity is expected to leap almost 50-fold by 2024 to 4.8 gigawatts. 

Siemens has developed a modular battery system that utilities can deploy in cascades as large as 100 MW. Each individual lithium-ion battery comes in 1-2 units.

Siemens has also recorded sales of energy management products and services as having risen 15 percent to $12.6bn last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

BBC Panorama puts Sellafield nuclear plant in the spotlight

September 6th, 2016

BBC’s investigative news programme, Panorama, has revealed what it referred to as 'safety concerns' at the Sellafield nuclear power plant in northwest England.

The programme’s main criticisms centred on what were claimed to be inadequate staffing levels and poor practice in the storage of radioactive materials.

A former senior manager of the complex had prompted the investigation. The anonymous whistle-blower explained that his biggest fear was a fire in one of the nuclear waste silos or one of the processing plants and said: "If there is a fire there it could generate a plume of radiological waste that will go across Western Europe."
Sellafield nuclear power plant
Panorama found parts of Sellafield in a rundown state and in addition claimed radioactive materials have been stored in degrading plastic bottles.

Sellafield’s management have rejected the programmes claims and pointed to significant investment in recent years.

Figures obtained by Panorama show that between July 2012 and July 2013 there were 97 incidents where parts of the site had too few workers on shift.

Dr Rex Strong, head of nuclear safety at Sellafield, denied that operating below these levels was dangerous. "You make alternative arrangements, so the things that have to be done get done. Facilities are shut down if we're not able to operate them in the way that we want to."

With regard to the issue of inadequate storage of materials, Dr Strong added, "The organisation is now focusing on putting right some underinvestment of the past in order to support the hazard and waste reduction mission that the site has."

Sellafield later said in a statement that plutonium and uranium samples are "kept securely" and that "to imply that such material is inappropriately managed is simply not true".

World Nuclear Association’s Communication Manager David Hess was unhappy at the depiction of the facility on the programme, believing some media bias at play on the part of the BBC.

Analysis suggests Hinkley nuclear could bring £100bn in revenues

September 5th, 2016

The Financial Times has commissioned a study on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, which has found that EDF and China General Nuclear stand to make as much as £100bn in revenues from the project over 35 years.

One analyst at AlphaValue who compiled the research likened the plant to a cash machine for the Sino-French partnership.

The total revenue could even be as high as £160bn, said three analysts, depending on assumptions about inflation, plant output and idle time for maintenance.
Hinkley Point C
The new British cabinet, headed by Theresa May recently opted to delay a final decision on the project amid unease at what is perceived in some quarters as an overly expensive deal guaranteeing that the EDF-led consortium will be paid £92.50 per megawatt hour for electricity, uprated annually for inflation., over the course of three decades.

The FT reports that customers will be forced to pay a significant share of the expected revenue through special charges on their energy bills if wholesale electricity prices fall below £92.50 per MWh in the contract period. The rate is currently £41.95, according to ICIS Power Index. A recent projection by the UK’s National Audit Office put the customer subsidy at £30bn — almost five times the original estimate.

Juan Rodriguez, analyst at AlphaValue, estimated Hinkley Point C’s total revenue in cash terms at £102bn, assuming that the plant ran at 90 per cent capacity for 90 per cent of the time over the duration of the contract. It also assumes an inflation rate of 1 per cent.

“That is why [EDF] want to build the Hinkley Point project so badly,” said Mr Rodriguez. “If they manage to build it on time, it will be a cash machine.”

Former energy secretary at the time of the deal, Ed Davey, recently told Power Engineering International that the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne 'agreed to a higher price than I managed to secure.'

Power Hangout – Dr Jill Cainey on the progress of energy storage

September 2nd, 2016

This edition of Power Hangout features a conversation with Dr Jill Cainey, Director of the UK's Electricity Storage Network.

An asterisk will always accompany claims the renewables sector make about its capabilities. In that context we discuss how storage technology is progressing.

Storage is now in the spotlight and some might say it is potentially the superhero technology that’s going to save the world and consign fossils permanently to the margins.

This hangout explores that theme, while also looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the various storage technologies, competing to solve renewables great quandary.Dr Cainey also discusses progress and continuing barriers in the policy area and delivers her verdict on what the power sector might look like in the decades to come, as storage technology continues to mature.

For more information on the work of the Electricity Storage Network go to

Leak suggests recommendation to shut Dutch new coal plants

September 2nd, 2016

An advisory body to the Dutch government has recommended the shutting of one to two new coal-fired power plants if the country is to meet its emissions reduction targets, according to a leaked document.

Trouw website says the move will be under consideration following a court ruling last year when Dutch citizens challenged the country’s performance in decarbonisation.

The Urgenda legal case was brought by 886 Dutch citizens who said the government is not doing enough to avoid climate change. The court ruled last June the government has a duty of care and cannot hide behind claims that the Netherlands is a small part of a worldwide process.

The Netherlands is on target to reduce emissions by just 17 per cent by 2020 but judges had ruled that figure must reach 25 per cent by the end of the decade.

This can only be done relatively cheaply by closing the power stations, according to the leajed confidential report by research bureau CE Delft, due for official publication next week.

Alternatives to shutting down the power stations would be costly and would lead to higher petrol and energy prices and increased subsidies for solar and wind farms, the report said.

Five coal-fired power stations have already been closed down. Five are left, including two old facilities and three modern power stations run by Uniper, Engie and RWE. They have threatened to take legal action if the government orders their closure.

Banpu expects power unit to drive 2016 profit

September 2nd, 2016

Thailand’s Banpu, who have recently diversified into power generation, expect profits for its business to be driven by that unit this year.

The country’s largest coal miner, Banpu Pcl, sees a rising income from its power business and a recovery in global coal prices, Chief Executive Somruedee Chaimongkol said on Thursday.
The company is targeting a profit of $70m from its two major power plants this year, Somruedee told reporters. The company had incurred a total net loss of $44.18m last year.

It has diversified into power and renewable energy to minimise the impact from a coal price rout, and owns stakes in BLCP Power, a 1,434 MW coal-fired power plant in eastern Rayong province, and a 1,800 MW Hongsa power plant in Laos.

Banpu expects its power generating capacity to rise to 2,000 MW by the end of the year, from it current capacity of 1,900 MW, mainly from solar farms in China.

The company also said it signed agreements on Thursday with China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Techen Technologies (Thailand) to develop solar power in Thailand.

The move is part of Banpu's drive to boost the proportion of its renewable power to be at least 20 per cent of its target capacity of 4,300 MW by 2025, the company said in a statement.

India to install equipment aimed at identifying power loss

September 2nd, 2016

India is introducing technology aimed at identifying how more than 20 per cent of power distributed by state retailers is going missing.

Rural Electrification Corp. plans to install equipment that will transmit usage data from meters at each of the country’s 100,000 rural feeder stations, one of the final power distribution points between power plants and customers, said Ritu Maheshwari, the federal company’s executive director.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Data from the meters, which will be installed by state retail companies, will be streamed live to the public, Maheshwari said.

“Our aim is to make sure we know exactly how much electricity is flowing through the rural feeders,” Maheshwari said. “It helps spotting and solving problems faster. It also helps in understanding the trend in rural power consumption.”

Tracking rural usage is part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of reforming the country’s power sector and lighting every home in the country by 2019. 

Regional distributors lose almost 23 per cent of the electricity they buy through theft, unmetered usage and dissipation through old wires, hurting their finances and preventing them from repaying debt.

A federal-government plan to make them profitable has set a target of bringing that down to 15 per cent by 2019.

EDF board members seek court annulment of Hinkley decision

September 1st, 2016

Five of the 17 board members who voted to approve a decision by EDF to press ahead with the development of Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in England are now seeking a court annulment of that decision.

The board members, all union representatives, say they were not provided with information that was crucial to their decision on the day.
JB Levy
The sticking point is, they said, that Jean Bernard Ley, the company’s CEO was privy to information about the UK government’s intention to delay their decision on the project, and this was not shared with the board prior to the vote

The board voted 10 to 7 in favour of the £18bn project late last month to build two reactors in Somerset, England. One board member resigned in protest against EDF’s strategy.

“Some board members discovered they did not benefit from the same level of information as the CEO and government representative,” the CGT, CFE-CGC and FO unions said in a statement. The CFDT union did not sign the statement.

Shortly after the board meeting, the UK announced that it had postponed its final decision until early autumn to allow time for further review.

FT reports that law firm Alain Levy, which represents the five union board members, said on Wednesday that it had filed a complaint with the Paris commercial court, adding that the case would be heard on September 5. EDF declined to comment.

EDF have acknowledged that Levy knew a signing ceremeony scheduled for the project site on the day after the board meeting had been postponed but the company maintain that he did not know a full review of the project would take place.

Insiders said UK Prime Minister Theresa May had informed French President Francois Hollande a week prior to the board meeting and again a day before the meeting, but it is not known if the nature and extent of this delay was communicated the delay to Mr Levy.

The project, whose proponents say can bring a renaissance in nuclear engineering to the UK, has been dogged by controversy. The main concerns are a guaranteed long term electricity price perceived to be too high in some quarters, and the nature of China’s involvement in the country’s power infrastructure. Along with that are other issues such as legal challenges from other EU member states and the fact that the European Pressurised Reactor technology to be used has not yet been proven.

RWE storage acquisition a ‘strategic fit’

August 31st, 2016

The chief executive of RWE, Peter Terium, says the pending acquisition of German solar and battery specialist Belectric Solar and Battery Holding perfectly complements the strategy the company is trying to achieve.

Both the firms have signed a share purchase deal and agreed a purchase price in a high double-digit million euro range but the deal must wait for approval from EU anti-trust authorities before completion, something the company told Power Engineering International it sees as merely a formality.
Peter Terium
RWE Innogy CEO Terium said, “With innogy we are creating the innovative, decentralised and sustainable energy company of the future. The agreed acquisition of Belectric Solar & Battery fits this strategic orientation perfectly.”

“Smart battery storage solutions make generating electricity from renewables both more efficient and more secure. We are acquiring an innovative company that has built up an international strong market position. We are now combining our complementary strengths and creating additional impetus to successfully implement our projects in Europe and our growth regions – the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.”

Belectric Solar & Battery designs, installs, operates and maintains utility scale photovoltaic (PV) plants. It has also been active in the field of large-scale battery storage solutions.

The company manufactures its technology products in Germany and India. It has constructed over 280 utility-scale PV plants with an installed capacity of 1.5 GW.

RWE Innogy is positioning itself to become an important contributor in the expansion and decentralisation of renewable energy system in the future. The company signposted its ambitions in grid development earlier this summer.

A decision by the EU is expected in early 2017 and Sabine Jescke, RWE spokesperson told Power Engineering International the scrutiny from Bruseels is routine practice.

“It is part of the usual process. We currently have very little industrial scale solar PV. That makes the deal so interesting for us. On the other hand Belectric is growing beyond their means so this motivates the deal for them.”

“We have a minority stake in Endesa Spain , 15 MW in Hungary, but that is it. That is why it’s interesting for us as we wish to be an international player in industrial size PV.”

“They will check (on anti-trust) it but we do not see an issue.”

EV batteries offer huge energy storage potential says BNEF

August 31st, 2016

A new report states that there is huge energy storage potential in repurposing used electric vehicle batteries.

Analysts from Bloomberg New Energy Finance believe that using these batteries could bring about a new form of low cost energy storage.

In the report, BNEF senior analyst Claire Curry calculates that there will be 29 GWh of used EV batteries coming out of cars by 2025 – a capacity that she says “far exceeds the size of the current stationary storage market”.

Of this 29 GWh, around 10 GWh will get a second life as stationary storage.EV batteries offer huge energy storage potential says BNEF

Curry states that today, a new stationary storage system can cost up to $1000/kWh while in contrast, repurposing used EV batteries could cost as little as $49/kWh in 2018, with an additional $400/kWh cost to convert to stationary use.

Curry highlights the fact that the auto industry is divided on the issue. “While Tesla won’t be involved in second life, BMW, Nissan and Mercedes Benz already have second-life stationary storage projects in place.”

The report states that this year there will be “very few used batteries available for second-life applications, but volumes will increase significantly beyond 2020. Whether these batteries are suitable for second-life storage applications depends on the energy remaining in them; whether the car company warranties them outside the vehicle; and the price of commodities.”

It notes that currently, the costs of repurposing a used EV battery, such as transportation, testing, cycling and repackaging, can be high ­– over $100/kWh today – but adds that this cost should halve by 2018 due to economies of scale and learning.

The report explains that lithium-ion batteries are the most expensive part of an electric vehicle and dictate important performance metrics like driving range and power.

“EVs currently in circulation are a maximum of five years old and the majority of batteries are performing well, with little loss of driving range (caused by energy loss of the battery).”

However, the report states that in the next few years more of these batteries will experience energy loss, and by the time they are up to ten years old they will have lost enough capacity to significantly affect the driving range.

“When battery performance drops below a threshold of acceptable performance, owners can replace the batteries with new ones or the whole car may be scrapped,” says BNEF. “Those original batteries could still have 70 per cent of their initial energy left and contain valuable materials. Landfilling them is not economic and most countries have regulations against this.”

Curry says that the development of the ‘second-life’ battery market “is interesting to car companies, policy makers, stationary storage companies, utilities, renewable power developers and battery manufactures. It offers the potential for large amounts of low cost batteries, with plenty of energy left in them, to become available years before newly manufactured unsubsidised batteries are cheap enough to deploy.”

For more information about the BNEF report, click here.

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