Solar Power production and storage

In our article A Clean Energy Revolution is Underway  we tried to elaborate on Solar Power production and storage that is getting preponderant in our life literally by the day.  We are increasingly seeing how Energy is more and more appreciated but from as clean a source as it can be mustered by the available technology and like for anything else, it is no more a matter of generation but rather of storing or stock piling what has been produced.  In this particular case it is about batteries and / or different types of batteries. Here are some of the most noteworthy ones to date.
“To smooth out the production of a solar plant on a 24 hours basis, store a day production of electricity at night. For this batteries are a Classic solution.”  said André Gennesseaux of Energiestro, specialist in the field for 15 years explaining in an article in French of EDF’s Electrek  post.  This is Voss, rewarded by EDF Pulse 2015 priced invention.
Alternatives abound such as for instance the beautiful promises of the hydrogen to address the Intermittency of renewable energy, hydrogen could be the ideal solution to store excess production of wind turbines or solar power stations. EDF has also committed on this topic via its Electranova program.
More recently, Tesla TESLA TESLA BATTERY  commissioned researchers hit good results with a revolutionary battery system.  This is elaborated in this proposed article of electrek posted on May 9, 2017 written by Fred Lambert .  Here it is reproduced for its obvious interests, etc.

Tesla battery researcher says they doubled lifetime of batteries in Tesla’s products 4 years ahead of time [Updated]

@FredericLambert

Almost a year into his new research partnership with Tesla, battery researcher Jeff Dahn has been hitting the talk circuit presenting some of his team’s recent progress. We reported last week on his talk at the International Battery Seminar from March and now we have a talk from him at MIT this week.

He went into details about why Tesla decided to work with his team and hire one of his graduate students, but he also announced that they have developed cells that can double the lifetime of the batteries in Tesla’s products – 4 years ahead of schedule.

Update: Dahn reached out to clarify that the cells in question were tested in the lab and they are not in Tesla’s products yet.

During the talk titled “Why would Tesla Motors partner with some Canadian?” – embedded below, Dahn explained how they invented a way to test battery cells in order to accurately monitor them during charging and discharging to identify causes for degradation.

Like he admitted in his talk at the International Battery Seminar in March, Dahn doesn’t claim that he understands perfectly the chemistry behind the degradation, but the machines that they developed enabled them to test new chemistries more accurately and much faster – resulting in significant discoveries for the longevity of the cells.

One of his students working on the project went on to work for Tesla’s in-house battery cell research group and another started a company to commercialize the battery cell testing machines that they developed. Their client list includes Tesla, but also Apple, GM, 24M, and plenty of other large battery manufacturers and consumers.

In the second half of the talk, he explained how their new testing methods led them to discover that a certain aluminum coating outperformed any other material. The cells tested showed barely any degradation under high numbers of cycles at moderate temperature and only little degradation even in difficult conditions.

When it was time to talk about how those discoveries are impacting Tesla’s products, Dahn asked to stop recording the talk in order to go into the details.

While we couldn’t get that valuable information, when they started recording again, it was for a Q&A session and the first question was about his team’s ultimate goal for the lifetime of li-ion batteries.

He hesitated to answer, but then he said:

“In the description of the [Tesla] project that we sent to NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) to get matching funds from the government for the project, I wrote down the goal of doubling the lifetime of the cells used in the Tesla products at the same upper cutoff voltage. We exceeded that in round one. OK? So that was the goal of the project and it has already been exceeded. We are not going to stop – obviously – we have another four years to go. We are going to go as far as we can.”

This is impressive, especially since their research partnership started only in June 2016 and in February 2017, Dahn said that his team’s research is already “going into the company’s products“ – just a month after Tesla and Panasonic started production of their new ‘2170’ battery cell at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

It’s not necessarily related, but the timing is certainly interesting. It can take some time for products successfully tested in the lab to make it to production products.

It’s also important to note that Dahn’s research was focusing on Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) battery cells, which Tesla uses for its stationary storage products (Powerwall and Powerpack), and the first cell production at Gigafactory 1 was for those products.

Dahn explained that by increasing the lifetime of those batteries, Tesla is reducing the cost of delivered kWh for its residential and utility-scale projects. He gave examples of the costs at $0.23 per kWh for residential solar with storage and $0.139 per kWh for utility-scale, based on Tesla’s current projects:

For the batteries in its vehicles, Tesla uses Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA) and Dahn said that they are also working on this chemistry. Tesla and Panasonic are planning to start production of battery cells for vehicles, starting with the Model 3, at Gigafactory 1 by June 2017.

He added that considering Tesla’s use of aluminum in its chassis, there’s no reason why both the cars and the batteries couldn’t last 20 years.

Here’s the talk in full (update: MIT made the video private after we published our article):

Further reading :

How clean is solar power? The Economist wondered in an article dated December 10, 2016 http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21711301-new-paper-may-have-answer-how-clean-solar-power where all production parameters were critically reviewed in the light of their impacting Climate Change in the process of manufacturing of the necessary hardware.

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The Future is Not in Fossil Fuels

 

An article published on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by Common Dreams and written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer is reproduced here for its interest to all concerned in the MENA region countries about the Peak-Oil theory being concretised under our eyes and that renewable energy would eventually replace all fossil oil based energy production.  The author asserts rightly that the Future is Not in Fossil Fuels  and that “Solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.” (The above Photo is by David Goehring/flickr/cc)

 

Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert.

 

Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices.

The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015.

“As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent. “It’s also time for government to recognize that we should not leave the workers stranded, but provide opportunities in the new industries of the 21st century.”

Those opportunities are likely to come in the renewable energy sector, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced (PDF) in December that solar and wind power are now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries.

“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement at the time. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

Quartz reported last month:

In 2016, utilities added 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity to the U.S. grid, making solar the top fuel source for the first time in a calendar year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimates. The U.S. added about 125 solar panels every minute in 2016, about double the pace last year, reports the Solar Energy Industry Association.

The solar story is even more impressive after accounting for new distributed solar on homes and business (rather than just those built for utilities), which pushed the total installed capacity to 11.2 GW.

And as Paul Buchheit noted in an op-ed published Tuesday at Common Dreams, “solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

But it remains unclear how these trends will develop under an incoming Donald Trump administration.

As Moody’s Investor Services reported Tuesday, under Trump’s fossil-friendly cabinet, “U.S. energy policy likely will prioritize domestic oil and coal production, in addition to reducing federal regulatory burdens.”

In turn, according to Moody’s:

Increasing confidence in the oil and gas industry’s prospects will spur acquisition activity among North American exploration and production (E&P) firms, Moody’s says. Debt and equity markets are again offering financing for producers seeking to re-position and enhance their asset portfolios after a lull. [Merger and acquisition activity] will also pick up in the midstream sector. At the same time, integrated oil and gas firms will continue to improve their cash flow metrics and leverage profiles by cutting operating costs, further reducing capital spending and divesting assets.

Even so, the oilfield services and drilling (OFS) sector is in for another tough year, with continued weak customer demand, overcapacity, and a high debt burden.

Bottom line, wrote Buchheit, is that with the rapid expansion of solar power, Trump has “the opportunity to make something happen that will happen anyway, but he can take all the credit, with the added bonus of beating out his adversary China.”
“Unfortunately, Trump may not have the intelligence to recognize that he should act,” Buchheit wrote. “And the forces behind fossil fuel make progress unlikely. But there is plenty of American ego and arrogance and exceptionalism out there. We need some of that ego now, just like 60 years ago, when the Soviet accomplishments in space drove us toward a singular world-changing goal. Then it was the moon. Now it’s the sun.”

Cities and the Rise of the Sharing Economy

This article is written by Carlo Ratti, Director, SENSEable City Lab, MIT and published on the WEF on Monday 19 December 2016 is posted here for its obvious interest for our readers.  Working on after defining the Importance of Cities and the Rise of the Sharing Economy in the world of tomorrow seems to be the key for resolving our problems of climate change and all.  The MENA region is hinted at only in the Rise of the Sharing Economy graph where it is rated little above the world average.

These four numbers define the importance of our cities: -2, 50, 75 and 80

Cities are home to more than half the world’s population, and that number continues to grow. How should they adapt to cope with demand? This is a question that will increasingly be answered by technology, says Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT’s Senseable City Laboratory and co-chair of the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization. In this interview, Ratti envisions a future where our homes, offices and even our furniture is designed to evolve and respond to how we use them, rather than the other way around.

Why is it important to think about the future of urbanization?

Four numbers define the importance of cities: 2, 50, 75 and 80. Cities occupy 2% of the world’s surface, but they are host up to 50% of the world’s population, are responsible for 75% of global energy consumption and 80% of CO2 emissions. Hence, if we made our cities just a little more efficient, we could have a major global impact.

What emerging trends are set to shape how we live in cities?

The internet is entering the physical space, merging the physical and digital layers – and this is opening up a new world of applications, from energy to mobility, water management to citizen participation.

For example: today, a staggering amount of energy is wasted on heating or cooling empty offices, homes and partially occupied buildings. At MIT we researched how the Internet of Things could help to synchronize human presence with climate control – that is, heating or cooling people, not entire buildings. We developed and tested prototypes that we are now applying architecturally – for example, in the redesign of Fondazione Agnelli, an historical building in Torino, Italy.

Occupants of the building will be followed as they move around by a personalized heating, cooling and lighting system, like an individually-tailored environmental bubble, optimizing space usage and limiting energy waste.

image-statista-1Image: Statista

How else might technology change the way we use buildings?

Think about our working lives. We already have the technological tools to enable remote working, but most of us still commute to offices every day. Why hasn’t remote working taken off as much as many people thought it would? Because being in the same building makes it easier for people to share knowledge, generate ideas, and pool talents and perspectives.

But how do we maximize these effects? That’s a question technology will increasingly answer. New tools are emerging to measure human connections and spatial behaviour and how they relate to productivity and creativity. That will inform how workplaces are organized.

Historically, buildings have been rigid and uncompromising – more like corsets than t-shirts. Increasingly we will design buildings and digitally integrated furniture that evolve and respond to how people use them, rather than requiring humans to adapt to them.

carlo-ratti

Do you think cities of 2030 will look dramatically different from today’s?

I think that what will change most radically by 2030 will be our way of living in cities: how we work, move, buy, meet, mate, and so on.

Consider mobility: cars are becoming computers on wheels, capable of driving themselves; data analytics is enabling smarter real-time management of traffic; and, with the rise of the sharing economy, people are increasingly thinking of cars as something they don’t need to own. Recently at MIT we studied mobility demand in Singapore, and found that it could be met with 30% of the vehicles currently in circulation.

In theory, this number could be cut by another 40% if passengers traveling similar routes at the same time were willing to share a vehicle. This implies a city in which we could travel on demand with just one-fifth of the number of cars in use today. Among other benefits, that would free up large swaths of parking areas for other uses.

image-statista-2

Image: Statista

What roadblocks stand in the way and who are the key players in overcoming them?

There are roles for governments, the private sector, and citizens alike. For example, the reductions in car numbers I just envisaged are only theoretical – they depend on people’s willingness to share rides, and to adopt self-driving technology. We can easily also imagine a nightmare scenario, in which cars become cheaper, more and more people buy them instead of using mass transport, and cities become even more congested by 2030.

Like the beginning of the internet, today’s beginning of the Internet of Things will require a lot of trial and error. The safety and security of the systems we are building is one crucial factor – we are all familiar with viruses crashing our computers, but what if the same virus crashes our cars? We will need innovators and regulators to work closely together, with regulation closely following technical progress and fixing the problems that will surely emerge.

The WEF: Have you read?