blasjo-reservoir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Blåsjö, Norway.

 

Hydro storage is basically a renewable battery. Lake Blåsjö (“Blue Lake”) in Norway with a capacity of 7.8 terrawatthours (TWh) has become a symbol of Norway’s potential to become a “Blue Battery” for Northern Europe. To put the number in perspective 7.8 TWh would cover the electric consumption of over 750 000 residential homes. To accumulate the same amount of energy with lithium ion batteries it would take over 200 years of full production at Tesla’s planned Gigafactory.



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Sunday August 18 Germany set a new renewable record. That day at 2 pm generation from renewable energy sources provided 75 % of all power needed to satisfy the total demand of electric energy.

Less noticed was that Burlington Electric Department, Vermont, in September with the purchase of a 7.4 MW hydroelectric facility achieved its goal of reaching 100 % from renewable energy.

While Germany’s August 18 record was a peak, Burlington’s 100 % is basically on a continuous basis.

What makes Burlington Electric’s achievement additionally impressive is that retail electricity rates in Burlington are less than half of the rates in Germany, 13.7 cents/kWh (time of use rate 2014) versus 36.25 cents/kWh (average 2013).



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Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in November last year visited the new Kemper power plant in Mississippi. After touring the plant he said: “I consider seeing this plant a look at the future.” It was probably meant that Kemper will be the big bang for future coal fired power plants. However, massive cost overruns and project delays have added arguments to the critics saying that this is not a viable future.

582 MW IGCC power plant under construction. Kemper, Mississippi. Owner: Mississippi Power, subsidiary of Southern Company.

582 MW IGCC power plant under construction. Kemper, Mississippi. Owner: Mississippi Power, subsidiary of Southern Company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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The yellow school bus is an American icon. There are over 450 000 of them. Overall they are robust, reliable and safe.

schoolbus

However, they are anything but clean. Almost all school buses use diesel engines. The exhaust contains particulate matters, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOC). Studies have shown that children in buses are exposed to unhealthy levels of these emissions. While breathing diesel exhaust is not healthy for anybody, it is more serious for children, since their respiratory systems are still developing.

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Batteries for electric energy storage has become like the search for the holy grail of enabling more intermittent renewable energy, wind and solar, both for integration with the electric grid as well as for “stand-alone” installations.

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Coming down the cost curve of lithium ion batteries.

It is difficult to imagine if and how our mobile devices would have looked and worked without lithium ion batteries. Just think of, give and take, the four times heavier and four times bigger lead acid batteries, with longer charging times and shorter life!

Looking ahead for large scale use of lithium batteries for vehicular and stationary applications, it is good to know that lithium batteries for the consumer electronics mass markets did not happen over-night.

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What do a hospital, an army base and a Walmart store have in common? The answer is that they all improve their energy efficiency and increasingly produce their electric power on site, behind the (utility) meter. Each single site may not represent a big electric load, but it starts to add up. In fact it may be part of the reason why electric utilities are facing lower load growth and in some cases even negative load growth.



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Operating electric grids with more intermittent renewable energy sources, wind and solar, do not come without challenges.  As discussed in my previous blog, The Importance of Strong and Nice Neighbors, the experiences from Denmark and Germany illustrates the value of strong electric ties with neighboring systems.



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Operating electric grids with more intermittent renewable energy sources, wind and solar, do not come without challenges. Some examples:

In California with increasing amounts of solar behind the meter it has been recognized that the load curve is changing significantly. The new load curve, based on its shape called the “duck curve”, will set high demands on the system to ramp up and down.

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