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Round-up: Solar Impulse, AES in Europe, Greensmith launches audit service and ‘Governator&#821

Solar Impulse 2 comes in to land at Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii. Image: Solar Impulse.
Greensmith's audit service aims to protect bottom line, improve industry reputation

17 July 2015: US storage software, systems and service company Greensmith has launched an “energy storage system audit service” aimed at developers and storage system owners, which can reduce the risk of failures and poor performance, the company claims.

Greensmith’s SVP for product managing and marketing, Leesa Lee, told PV Tech Storage that the company was surprised by “the lack of awareness of the complexity of energy storage systems”. Lee said this deficit was one of the main drivers behind the creation of StorageCheck, which can be used to audit systems that are “one megawatt in capacity or larger”.  

“The purpose of the new StorageCheck audit service, in the end, is to ensure that the grid-scale energy storage market realises its potential. Though grid-scale energy storage can address many of the vexing problems related to today’s grid, we are concerned that, in the rush to develop new energy storage systems, people are failing to realise that if they want their systems to work, and work well, they need to account for energy storage’s complexity,” Lee said.

Lee said it was important both for the efficacy of individual installations and the reputation of the industry as a whole that “catastrophic failures” are avoided.

Along with these so-called catastrophic failures, StorageCheck is meant to help stakeholders avoid construction delays and performance problems after a system is commissioned. The service creates a report evaluating storage system design and recommends changes that should both improve performance and deliver better returns on investment.

Read ‘Batteries are just a ticket to the ball game’ - an interview with Greensmith, from earlier this year on PV Tech Storage.

'Governator' Schwarzenegger joins Advanced Microgrid's energy storage investment

15 July 2015: ‘Terminator’ actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is among the investors in Advanced Microgrid Solutions, a US start-up which recently made a deal with Tesla to procure up to 500MWh of Powerpack batteries.

According to reports in the Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch, AMS has “secured US$18 million in Series A funds,” led by DBL Investors, a venture capital fund spun out of JP Morgan by founder and managing partner Nancy Pfund. DBL promises a “double bottom line” by combining financial returns with “pos­i­tive social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic impact in the local com­mu­nity”.

Pfund is on the board at AMS, while AMS chief executive Susan Kennedy previously served as chief of staff to Schwarzenegger when he was in office as California governor. While in office Schwarzenegger cultivated the image and reputation for being a climate hawk. Despite not having executed projects as yet, AMS has secured a deal with utility Southern California Edison to construct 50MW of grid-scale energy storage projects.

Dutch grid will be home to first Europe project by AES

13 July 2015: Another grid-balancing large-scale energy storage system is being built in Europe, this time by AES, marking the company’s first installation in the continent.

The project, which is in the Netherlands, will provide Primary Control Reserve (PCR), matching supply and demand on the local grid by using power stored in its batteries to respond quickly to grid imbalances. PCR is known by a number of other terms, such as frequency regulation, in the US and elsewhere.

Large-scale storage is increasingly being used to provide grid services that would traditionally be supplied by thermal power generation. In some cases this is being done on a trial basis, such as the UK’s ongoing “Big Battery” pilot, while other regions, such as Germany and the PJM service area in the US, already have market mechanisms in place to reward the fast response to grid signals that energy storage can provide.

AES will deliver Advancion, which the company describes as the fourth generation of its “battery-based grid resource”, to Dutch transmission system operator TenneT. The Netherlands Advancion Energy Storage Array will provide 10MW of storage, making it equivalent to 20MW of flexible resource. Along with making it easier to effectively dispatch power from existing generation sources, AES said the array should enable greater deployment of renewables.

Japanese inverter maker Tabuchi tackles US residential solar-plus-storage

13 July 2015: Staying on the subject of pastures new, Japanese inverter manufacturer Tabuchi has launched a residential solar-plus-storage product at Intersolar North America, the trade show which is taking place this week.

Tabuchi describes its EneTelus Intelligent Battery System (EIBS) as a “grid-friendly inverter and storage system”. The company appears to be positioning the system as a long-term proposition, playing up the possibility of using it to reduced demand charges and peak loads. Most of the US does not yet have time of use charges for residential customers, although California recently ruled that it is likely to introduce some level of time-based tariffs by 2019.

According to the general manager of Tabuchi’s US operations, Harumi McClure, EneTelus has been optimised to work as an ‘all-in-one’ system and is sold with 3 MPPT 5.5kW inverter and 10kWh battery pack included. Tabuchi will also launch a commercial energy storage system to the US market this year, using a 4.2kW DC / DC converter which can accommodate six PV strings.

“Rather than creating a patchwork of batteries and inverters, we’ve optimised our technology to include everything in one system. Our all-in-one solutions make it much simpler for solar installers to sell and install storage, marking a critical step in reducing intermittency and powering the solar revolution,” McClure said.

The lithium-ion battery-based system also includes a 10-year warranty.  

Solar Impulse pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg celebrate the plane's landing in Hawaii, which marked the end of a record-breaking leg. Image: Solar Impulse.
Record-breaking solar flight grounded on battery hitch

13 July 2015: The pioneering aircraft Solar Impulse 2 will be grounded until at least the beginning of next month as engineers attempt to repair batteries damaged during the plane’s recent record-breaking trans-Pacific flight.

Earlier this month the plane completed its longest single leg, a five-day, five-night flight between Nagoya, Japan, and Hawaii, in the process breaking a number of world records.

But over the weekend, the Solar Impulse team said that during the flight, the aircraft’s batteries, which enable it to keep running at night, suffered damage from overheating.

A statement said that during the first ascent on day one of the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the battery temperature increased too much due to over insulation. The team said it was unable to decrease the temperature during the remainder of the flight for energy management reasons.

The damage to certain parts of the batteries is irreversible and will require repairs and replacements that will take several weeks to work through. In parallel, the Solar Impulse engineering team is looking at various options for better management of the cooling and heating process for very long flights. 

The team said it did not see the possibility of getting Solar Impulse 2 airborne again for at least two to three weeks, adding to a string of delays that has already added several weeks to the projected flight time.

Solar Impulse reporting by Ben Willis.

Advanced Microgrid Solutions chief Susan Kennedy previously worked with film star and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, serving as chief of staff to the 'Governator' in his role as Republican governor of California. Image: flickr User: Mirrorcle World.

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