Archive for Energy Storage

Solar facility that could power 500 Marin homes

By Janis Mara, Marin IJ











Roy Phillips, president of REP Energy, leads a tour of an abandoned quarry on June 9 in Novato. His company, REP Energy, wants to build a solar energy facility at the site near the McIsaac Dairy west of Novato. The quarry, no longer in use, was mined for the mineral serpentine, a source of asbestos. (Frankie Frost — Marin Independent Journal)

A proposed solar facility just outside Novato that could generate enough electricity to power more than 500 Marin homes is up for approval at the Marin Planning Commission meeting Monday.

Located on the isolated grounds of a former rock quarry, the solar farm would have 4,272 solar panels up to 6 and a half feet high on 11.5 acres of the 952-acre quarry. The $6 million project would generate 1.98 megawatts of electricity, delivered to Marin Clean Energy via nearby power lines.

The quarry was once mined for serpentine rock, which contains asbestos. Quarry operations shut down in 1990.

Installations like the solar project “are a good way to use formerly disturbed locations” like the quarry, said Andrew Campbell, the executive director of the Energy Institute at Haas, a research and teaching facility at the University of California at Berkeley.

Campbell said the proposed location also was beneficial because it is close to the people who would use the energy.

“Having the generation close to an area where consumers are also has benefits, since some power is lost when it is transmitted over long distances,” the executive director said.

The site is west of the city of Novato, east of Stafford Lake and about a mile north of Novato Boulevard. It is not visible from the road. County staff has recommended that the permit be granted, with some qualifications.

Crawford Cooley and Beverly Potter, who own the former quarry, would lease the land to San Rafael-based Danlin Solar, along with San Rafael-based REP Energy. Those two companies would own and build the solar installation.

“That’s a pretty typical arrangement,” Campbell said.

“Solar is a green energy source, no doubt about it. There is no pollution or greenhouse gas emitted at the place where you are generating the power,” the executive director said.

“This would be quite a win if it happened. The people who are very concerned about seeing beautiful agricultural land taken up with solar panels have a valid point. You’d hate to lose a lot of natural Marin. That makes this an ideal project because it’s sitting in an abandoned quarry essentially on bare rock,” said Bob Spofford, vice president of Sustainable San Rafael.

“Solar is in some ways the most ideal of all alternative energy because it doesn’t make noise, it doesn’t pollute, it produces power close to the time when it’s most needed, and it does not harm wildlife,” said Spofford.

Addressing Spofford’s last point, “Photovoltaic panels definitely do not kill birds,” said Michael D. McGehee, a Stanford University associate professor and a senior fellow at the university’s Precourt Institute for Energy. McGehee teaches classes on solar cells. Wind turbines such as the ones at Altamont do pose a danger to avian life, perhaps causing some to confuse the effects of this alternative energy source with those of solar, McGehee said.

No letters of opposition to the project had been received by the staff by Friday.

The state Office of Mines Reclamation and the Department of Public works oversaw the reclamation of the land since the 1990s, according to the county staff report. The project is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because it will not cause environmental impacts, the staff report said.

“My job is to work with clients to help them avoid environmental impacts,” said Dana Riggs, a project biologist with San Rafael-based WRA Environmental Consultants. “We planned it (the project) in a manner to avoid impacts on sensitive resources including species and habitat,” Riggs said.

If the permit is granted, construction could begin as early as mid-August and wrap up by November, according to Frank Gobar of Danlin Solar.

Solar emerging as competitor for utility-scale electric generation

January 13, 2013 | By

The adoption of U.S. utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants is expected to accelerate during the next decade, according to research from Frost & Sullivan. This will move the technology forward as a contender in a pool of conventional forms of electricity generation.

Renewable portfolio standards, federal incentives such as investment tax credits and loan programs are driving large-scale commercialization of solar energy. As solar energy competes with conventional forms of electricity generation, the potential market for utility-scale solar power plants in the country is on the rise.

Cumulative PV solar installations in the U.S. reached 1,855 MW with the utility-scale segment accounting for 32.2 percent.

Survey: Take the Smart Grid Index Survey

Zpryme’s Smart Grid Insights and FierceSmartGrid are conducting a survey to assess the current sentiment and outlook for the Smart Grid industry on a monthly basis. We would like to invite utility, energy, and Smart Grid executives to participate in this month’s survey. Click here to take the survey.

“Though no new CSP plants were installed in the United States during 2011, projects totaling more than 1.4 gigawatts were under construction,” said Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Georgina Benedetti, which should speed up overall market growth.

However, before banks and investors fund these projects, they need some level of assurance that a power plant will operate long enough to see a return on their investment.

“Therefore, well-established project developers using proven technologies will have an advantage in obtaining financing,” said Benedetti.

For more:
– see this article

Related Articles:
Solar robust even in economic downturn
Muni’s feed-in tariff will boost CA solar energy
California gaining PV market share

Read more: Solar emerging as competitor for utility-scale electric generation – FierceEnergy

Automated demand response key to intermittent renewables

August 2012 | Markets & Trends, Research & Development, Storage & grid integration| By:  Becky Beetz

Automated demand response, or AutoDR could cost-effectively help combat intermittent renewable energy supply, particularly in light of the current high costs of grid-connected storage batteries.

AutoDR could cost-effectively help combat intermittent renewable energy supply.

Michael Crawley

By 2020, many countries, states and regions expect to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewables, like wind and solar. In the European Union, this target is 20%, for example, while in the U.S. state of California, it is 33%.

While these goals are positive, if not exactly over-ambitious, storage solutions are currently costly and technology is still being developed, meaning intermittency issues  are a very present challenge for the energy industry.

However, according to scientists at California’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), AutoDR – the infrastructure of which already exists – is an important element of the smart grid, since it can efficiently and economically reduce the chances of grid failure and help ease intermittency problems.

They say that automatically reducing the power demand of large commerical and industrial buildings to more closely match the demands of the grid is currently “more cost-effective” than grid-scale battery storage. “Deployed costs for fast automated demand response including installation, materials, labor and program management are about 10% of the deployed costs of grid scale battery storage,” write the report’s authors.

Average demand response costs compared to various average grid scale
battery costs:

Grid scale battery technology Demand response costs compared to various grid scale battery costs
DR cost* (US$/kW) Battery cost** ($/kW) DR/battery (% cost)
Lithium-ion – High power 230 2,050 11
Advanced lead acid 230 2,100 11
Lithium ion – high energy 230 2,750 8
Vanadium redox battery 230 2,375 10
Zinc bromine 230 1,625 14
Sodium sulfur (NaS) 230 3,500 7
Zinc-air battery 230 2,625 9

Source: Fast Automated Demand Response to Enable the Integration of Renewable Resources
* Deployed cost, average (Wikler et al., 2009)
* Deployed costs, average(Seto 2010)

Furthermore, the scientists say their research – supported by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program, California utilities, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority – has proven that AutoDR reduces peak power use during periods of high demand.

“In response, the California Public Utilities Commission mandated the use of AutoDR by California’s investor-owned electric utilities as a tool for managing the grid. Currently, there is more than 250 MW of AutoDR in California. Electric power authorities globally are also beginning to add AutoDR to their grid management toolkits,” writes the Berkley Lab in an article summarizing the report.

Specifically, the EETD scientists have developed an internet based communications specification, OpenADR, which is said to be “one of the early Smart Grid standards” and which is already being used to implement AutoDR in practice.

However, while AutoDR presents a possible solution to intermittency, it is still not at the stage where it can completely resolve the issue. According to a study carried out in 2010, it was found that between 3 and 5 GW of load shedding would be would be required to meet California’s 2020 goals.

Based on the EETD scientists’ latest research, AutoDR deployed on a large-scale  in California, and utilizing existing commercial and industrial facilities, could provide between 0.18 and 0.90 GW of load shedding. If the system was upgraded and expanded, they believe this could increase to 0.42 to 2.07 GW.

“Automated demand response has the potential to balance renewable intermittency in a cost-effective way,” says EETD scientist and principal investigator of the research, Sila Kiliccote. “Combined with grid-scale energy storage and other methods, it could be an important element of a suite of tools to help operators manage the grid.”

She adds, however, “We need to better understand what percentage of each of these types of load sheds is available to address intermittency throughout the year. Also needed is a quantitative economic analysis of the scale up of AutoDR as a grid resource integrated with renewable and energy storage.”