The increased growth in urbanisation is putting a strain on our energy, transportation, water, buildings and public spaces, so solutions need to be found which are ‘smart’, i.e. both highly efficient and sustainable on the one hand, as well as generating economic prosperity and social wellbeing on the other.
In the UK, the National Grid has recently warned the government that its capacity to supply electricity is at a seven-year low due to recent generator closures, fires and outages. The margin of capacity over demand is expected to be just 4% this winter.
One of the U.S.‘s largest investor-owned energy utilities, Consolidated Edison (Con Edison), is planning to spend US$200 million on demand reduction technologies. Con Edison has filed a proposal with the New York Public Utilities Commission for a Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management Program (BQDM) that it hopes can defer the US$1 billion cost of building a new substation and expanding two existing ones.
The developing economies of the world are largely located in geographical regions that have abundant renewable energy resources, be they solar, wind, hydro or in some cases geothermal, yet paradoxically at the individual and rural community level, access to energy is often a very real issue. Establishing a continuous chain of temperature controlled cold environments from the point of harvest to the marketplace and on into the home, a ‘cold chain’, is what is required in order to avoid produce spoilage and to connect farmers with higher value market options in distant urban centres or overseas.
A team at Harvard is pursuing a metal-free battery chemistry based on organic molecules called Quinones. The technology potentially offers an abundant and safe material to use for scaling up flow batteries, but according to the energy storage team at Lux Research in Boston, there are significant limitations based on project cost.
The emerging availability of storage and smart-grid technologies allows communities to meet their energy demands locally. As Andrew Jones of S&C Electric writes, community-owned micro-grids will become an increasingly important element of the future energy system.
Earlier this year New York governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans for an “energy modernisation initiative that will fundamentally transform the way electricity is distributed and used in New York State”. This will include the creation of a leading energy storage marketplace, argues Bill Radvak, chief executive officer of American Vanadium, whose company recently installed a vanadium flow battery storage system for New York’s Metropolitan Transport Authority in Manhattan.
Energy storage has been touted as the enabler of high levels of intermittent renewables in the electricity system – the silver bullet or Holy Grail for solar and wind. A key attribute for the technology’s deployment will be scalability, writes Melissa Lott.
Hawaii is inviting proposals for up to 200MW of storage in the face of regulatory demands and unprecedented distributed generation challenges. As Dean Frankel writes, the process could offer some answers to the conundrum of integrating higher volumes of renewable energy generation.