More on Energy Storage Breakthrough Batteries

July 20, 2013

More on progress in energy storage.

Electric Light and Power:

Eos Energy Storage announced partnerships this to deploy its battery energy storage technology with electric power utilities in the U.S. and Europe.

Eos’ Aurora energy storage system is a 1 MW zinc hybrid cathode battery the size of a washing machine that the company projects could supply power to the grid for around $160 per KWh, compared to between $400 and $1000 per KWh for current battery technologies, Eos executives told The New York Times.

“Eos is focused on producing a reliable 25-year battery that can integrate into the utility grid at a price equivalent to a combustion gas turbine,” said an official with the Public Service Co. of New Mexico, one of Eos’ partners in the venture. “If they can do that, Eos will be in a position to change the way utilities do business.”

Eos’ partners in its “Genesis program,” to deploy early iterations of its technology in 2014, include utilities representing more than 300 GW of power generation and 76 million customers in 70 countries, according to a press release.

According to Power Engineering, the partners say the program represents a major step in bringing viable energy storage to the grid, which could radically change not only systems for meeting peak demand, but the economics of intermittent renewable technologies as well.

CleanTechnica:

Eos Energy Storage is one of the energy storage startups we have highlighted as being a potentially “breakthrough energy storage company.” Before delving into the latest big news from Eos — you know, its plans to take over the world — let me just insert a little bit of context about market potential in the energy storage sector.

I think this phrase gets a bit old to those of us who cover this space, but in case you haven’t heard it, low-cost energy storage is sort of considered the holy grail of the clean energy economy. I will admit that I think it’s a little overhyped. We can get to extremely high penetrations of renewable energy with relatively little energy storage. However, energy storage is a big help. And, in actuality, low-cost energy storage would be a big help for the energy market across the board. We have an extremely small amount of energy storage on the grid. With regards to battery storage specifically, the CEO of Florida Power & Light (a large Florida utility) noted in a utility company CEO roundtable a couple years ago that, “if you took all the battery storage in the world, it could only produce the energy requirements of the world for like 10 minutes.” This results in wasted electricity generation at times of low demand, and very high prices at times of peak demand when all of a sudden peaker power plants have to be turned on (except in Germany and places with high solar energy generation). It’s also the reason why so much backup power capacity (backup power plants) have to be in place, for both renewable and nonrenewable resources.

It’s clear from watching the situation in Germany that, as solar power capacity grows, it won’t be too long before more electricity will be generated in the middle of the day than is needed on the surrounding grid. The same goes for wind power at night. A lot of wind power production has driven wholesale electricity prices below $0.00 in TexasGermany, and Europe as a whole. So, energy storage becomes increasingly valuable. With it well understood across the industry that wind and solar power are the future and that energy storage costs are projected to drop (due to companies like Eos, as well as simple economies of scale), it’s projected that the energy storage market will indeed grow considerably in the coming years. Here’s a chart on just that from Eos itself:

And here’s a chart on the tiny part energy storage plays today:

And here’s one on the tiny part batteries play in that tiny part of the market:

Anyway, the key with Eos (which we’ve written about previously) is that it is claiming that its technology comes at a very, very low price:

Eos Announces Huge Global Partnership

It seems the claims have reached some big ears. On to the news…

In an email sent to me earlier this week, a representative of Eos wrote:

In short, several of the world’s largest utilities, competitive energy providers and IPPs have committed to piloting Eos’s grid-scale battery storage technology and are intimately involved in Eos’s product development and demonstration process. Collectively known as the Genesis program, these partners represent over 300 gigawatts of generation, 1.6 million miles of transmission and distribution, and 76 million customers in over 70 countries – creating an unprecedented platform for introduction and ultimately widespread implementation of the technology.

This is big. Partners representing over 300 gigawatts of generation! 70 countries!

Going on:

Partners in Eos’s Genesis program include Enel (Italy’s largest utility with a 30 GW renewable IPP arm operating in the U.S. and internationally), National Grid (both the U.K. transmission operator and the U.S. utility), GDF Suez (the world’s largest IPP), and the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). These partnerships follow previous announcement of Eos’s first pilot project with Con Edison of New York and announcement of financial investment made on behalf of NRG Energy, the largest competitive energy provider in the U.S.

We view these partnerships both as validation of Eos’s battery storage technology and go-to-market strategy, as well as an indication that grid-scale energy storage is quickly moving from a niche technology to widespread adoption in the utility sector.

“The Genesis program entails cooperation with integrated utilities, competitive energy providers, and pure transmission and distribution operators – a range that ensures the ability of Eos’s technology to address a variety of markets, operating models, and energy storage applications,” said Eos President Steve Hellman. ”Eos looks forward to working with these partners, which include some of the world’s largest and most advanced utilities and energy companies, to demonstrate how our energy storage technology can create economic value throughout a wide range of uses.”

“Being the world’s leading supplier of energy and environmental efficiency services, and with 116 GW of installed generation capacity spanning more than 70 countries, GDF SUEZ is convinced of the growing need for energy storage worldwide,” commented Léon Duvivier, Vice President of Technology within the Research & Innovation Division at GDF SUEZ. “We look forward to exploring how energy storage can be monetized across a variety of market and regulatory structures.”

“Eos is focused on producing a reliable 25-year battery that can integrate into the utility grid at a price equivalent to a combustion gas turbine,” said PNM Chief Operating Officer Ron Talbot. “If they can do that, Eos will be in a position to change the way utilities do business.”

Putting Eos Prices Into Context

One of our readers also caught wind of this news and sent over some useful perspective. He noted some useful points for putting $160/kWh into perspective. The price of lithium-ion batteries is probably around $400/kWh, $250/kWh at the very lowest. Power Engineering quotes battery prices as being between $400 and $1000 per kWh today.

$160/kWh is a big change.

In a video on the Eos site, it notes being able to shift off-peak to peak for ~$0.10/kWh, all expenses included.

“If what they say is true, it’s the missing piece of the renewable energy puzzle. Affordable, distributable storage,” our anonymous reader adds.

“It gets us away from ‘big project’ storage such as pump-up and CAES, which takes years to build, and creates a solution which can be pumped out of factories close to the point of use. Plopped down in low cost real estate. And plugged into the grid. Modular storage.”

This is a big deal. We’ll see what comes of this Genesis program. We’ll see if $160/kWh is the price after all. And we’ll see if Eos really has what it takes to conquer the world. But the simple fact that it has so many big, key companies partnering with it is certainly something worth paying attention to.

By the way, if you want more info or quotes from Eos, check out the full Eos press release and/or the Eos website.

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10 Responses to “More on Energy Storage Breakthrough Batteries”

  1. Bruce Miller Says:

    Now add into these equations the millions or more electric cars ballasting the grids in the U.S. in the next decade as oil and gasoline prices outstrip the U.S. peon’s ability to match them and electrics win the day. As long as burgeoning Asian growth pushes world oil prices ever-upward, U.S. has but one escape hatch – the proliferation ever lighter ever better electric cars.
    China’s thrust towards Thorium/electric over Coal/oil is also clearly mandated by the group of seven politburo in speech and deed.
    China is very energy conscious and does indeed have plans. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UT2yYs5YJs ‎Kun Chen from Chinese Academy of Sciences on China Thorium for a tacitly explicit outline of their plans and even their time lines in this video. My Question: Can the U.S. compete or will they perish in the face of Chinese progress?

  2. sales333 Says:

    “Eos’ Aurora energy storage system is a 1 MW zinc hybrid cathode battery the size of a washing machine that the company projects could supply power to the grid for around $160 per KWh”
    This price seems extraordinarily high for grid supplied electricity. We get paid a premium feed in price of A$0.66 per kWh for rooftop solar sent to the grid.
    This is A$660/MWh. (MegaWatthour)

    • greenman3610 Says:

      that does indeed seem high, so I was hoping someone might be able to elucidate further. The New York times mentioned that the price was competitive with Natural gas peaking units – so I’m wondering if the journalists are getting it wrong.


      • yeah, we got confused by that previously. it is the capital cost, not LCOE. here’s a reply on this that i received from the Eos team after sending along a similar question:

        Hi Zachary,

        Thanks for following up. I’m guessing there’s a bit of confusion between capital cost and levelized cost of energy. Our planned pricing for our 1 MW / 6MWh DC battery system is $1M. A 6 MWh battery has 6,000 kWh, so $1M / 6,000 kWh = $167/kWh, which we have rounded down to $160/kWh. This is a measurement of the battery’s upfront capital cost based on its energy density.

        In a levelized cost of energy analysis, the lifetime cost of the battery system (including the upfront capital cost, power electronics, operations and maintenance, cost of energy to charge the battery, etc.) is divided by the lifetime energy output of the battery. In that analysis, we estimate a range of $0.12 – $0.17 / kWh (the range is due to the different costs of energy to charge the battery). That range translates to a levelized cost of $120 – $170 / MWh.

        So, the tweet you received is correct — we may end up being ~$160 / MWh (a bit more or a bit less dependent on energy prices). But we will also be $160/kWh in terms of the capital cost of the DC battery system.

        Does this make sense?

        Thanks again for clarifying,
        Ben


  3. It looks like the whole power business is changing. Here is an insightful commentary on the present state of “base load” power:

    http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/05/10/commentary-time-to-reconsider-baseload-power/

    “it signals the emerging obsolescence of the traditional utility business model. Suffice it to say that we can now appreciate baseload generation as a luxury made affordable by rapid load growth rates..” “.. when loads stop growing, the operational inflexibility of a large coal or nuclear plant becomes a liability.”
    This is a chronology of the collapse of baseload power plant economics in Wisconsin, and the emergence of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which better fit the need for dispatchable power, and better fit the demand curve. They also have the attractive nature of being incrementally affordable, rather than stuck with the outmoded model of massive, centralized units with their unaffordable minimum price tags, and inflexiblility in the face newer demand trends. Truly, renewable energy is sounding the death knell of the old paradigm.


  4. If battery storage at small scale is viable, then everybody could store energy at the point of use. And utilities would simply let the price for electricity vary with time, over quite wide margins. Batteries would load up when the price is low, and get used when the price is high. Your automatic battery algorithm would be competing with the traders on the electricity market.. who would probably try to manipulate the behaviour of these automatic algorithms, etc. Interesting times.


  5. A report on the cost/benefits from the EPRI is available here:

    http://www.epri.com/abstracts/Pages/ProductAbstract.aspx?ProductId=000000003002001162

    The report indicates that $1000/kW is likely to be cost effective. The quote of $160/kW-hr is also reasonable compared to Lithium Ion numbers which are available from electric auto applications of about $400/kW-hr.

    http://green.autoblog.com/2012/02/21/battery-cost-dropping-below-200-per-kwh-soon-says-teslas-elon/

    The $/kW-hr is a figure for the capital cost of the battery storage, not the electric rate.

    One interesting finding is that 2 hour energy storage is the most valuable.

    Sources like solar which peak at the same time as the load have the potential to reduce rates far more than base load.
    A report finds that the yearly costs of energy are determined by very short peak loads in the previous year.

    “Businesses may not be aware that the amount of electricity they use during the one hour of peak power demand in their region influences how much their electricity rates are adjusted up or down for a full year, according to Joule Assets.”

    http://www.energymanagertoday.com/curtailing-energy-during-peak-power-hour-reduces-next-years-rates-093550/

    These reports put the relationships between renewables and existing centralized sources in an entirely different perspective and highlight the need for the advantages of solar, wind, and storage, which are valuable because they follow the daily demand curve more economically and because they can be deployed quickly in smaller increments of capital costs. The old paradigm of baseload centralized power is dead because it depends on steady demand growth to amortize its high capital costs. Demand growth has stalled and caused the decomissioning of many coal and nuclear power plants precisely because of this .

    • greenman3610 Says:

      “the $/kW-hr is for capital costs..not the electric rate – that’s what I was thinking.
      thanks for filling that in.


  6. […] 2013/07/20: PSinclair: More on Energy Storage Breakthrough Batteries […]


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