Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Renewables Electrical Storage with EESUs?

Energy Journalist Tyler Hamilton has something of an EEStory scoop today in the MIT Technology Review. Tyler is the mainstream, how be it, Canadian, Journalist who owns the EEStory.  Most of Hamilton's article report information I have reported on Nuclear Green. The Hamilton article also indicates the potential of a successful EEStor technology, to provide energy storage for renewables. Hamilton reports, on the basis of an interview with Weir, that "the company is also in serious talks with potential partners in the solar and wind industry, where EEStor's technology can, according to Weir, help put 45 percent more energy into the grid."

Hamilton attributes to Weir the statement that the company is working toward commercial production "as soon as possible in 2009," although when asked, he gave no specific date. "I'm not going to make claims on when we're going to get product out there. That's between me and the customer. I don't want to tell the industry." Reportedly when the EESUs reach mass production they can be produced for around $40 per KWh of storage capacity. This would clearly create a low cost potential for mass storage of energy from renewables, although the cost of the massive renewables installations required to feed the huge banks of industrial scale EESUs might well still be prohibitive. And we still have the issue that there is no proof that a functioning EESU prototype has been built.

I will await pronouncing the EEStory one of the ten top news stories of the 21st century until Dick Weir shows us a third party test of an EESU and we see the ZENN Morors City Car prototype safely zipping around Toronto with an EESU under the hood.  Oh, and the City Car has to be crash tested too, so we can find out if the EESU will electrocute everyone within 100 feet of an accident.

This link should satisfy anyone who wonders if EEStory skepticism has been quieted.


Soylent said...

In contrast, the figures I've seen for Sealed Lead Acid batteries is $200/kWh capacity and Lithium Ion $1200/kWh capacity.

Charles Barton said...

Lead Acid batteries have low power to weight ratios. Lithium Ion Batteries cost about ten times as much as EEStor claims the mass produced EESU will. In addition Lithium Ion Batteries will provide no more than 1/3 the driving range claimed for the EESU.

robert merkel said...

For grid energy storage, energy density is largely irrelevant, what matters is capital cost per unit of capacity, and service life.

David Walters said...

And...any storage medium that is good for renewables is also good for nuclear :)

I might also add, it's possible to get huge amounts of storage from our existing hydro units by adding pump storage capability to them. Would help save water for other uses as well. Big investment, but I think worth it. Imagine all the water the SW would save if we could pump back up the Colorado River to Lake Meade?


Charles Barton said...

David, I have already applied the pump storage concept to the TVA dam system. The rivers that arise in the great valley, the Cumberland Mountains and the Smokey Mountains flow through a system of dams from the that final dam is in Western Kentucky. There are hydro-electrical generators at each dam, If you pump the water back into a dam it is already left, in simply will be denied to the next down stream dam. Thus pump storage would add nothing to the hydro-capacity of the TVA dam system. I am not sure about over rivers.

Capacitor storage would useful for leveling out the generating irregularities of renewables. Power from wind or PV facilities would flow in to a bank of capacitors. Generating irregularities would not be problem for the capacitors. The capacitors then could discharge current at an even rate.

Of course capacitor banks can be used to store power generated by reactor operations, provided the capacitor banks are not significantly more expensive than peak reactors. EEStor estimates that they can produce capacitor storage for $40 a KWh. Doubtless if the technology works, potential exists to drive the cost down. the words "if the technology works" are the most important here. The electrical engineers and physicists are quite negative, so we shall see.

Warren Heath said...

I’m not sure what to make of EEStor, I sure hope they are on the up-and-up, but I’m real dubious, $40 per kwh, sounds like GM claiming it will be able to make Fool Cells for Vehicles for $50 per kw, whereas right now they are selling for $12,000 per kw.

The truth is, what we desperately need is decent batteries, be they Sodium Sulphur, Liquid Vanadium, Firefly Advanced Lead-Acid, LiFePO4, Li-Poly or NiMH, at a decent price of <$300 per kwh, and in HUGE QUANTITIES. We need them desperately for BEV’s and HEV’s, and for power generation, especially off-grid. A good example of this is remote off-grid communities, mines and lumber camps. A similar situation exists in Developing Nations where there is no Power Grid but lots of Solar Insolation – Germany they need the Solar PV – not you, what Germany is doing with it’s Solar PV $0.78 per kwh, mega-subsidy is immoral (Low Solar Insolation Germany has stolen half of the World’s Solar PV). The off grid power facilities virtually all use diesel power with diesel fuel trucked, barged or flown long distances to supply diesel generators. I know many camps are paying over $1.10 per kwh for electricity because the fuel must be loaded into 45 gal drums, transported by float plane to camp, empty barrels flown back. Diesel Generators are also a very high maintenance cost item, even new generators in the 500 kw range routinely break down in less than one year’s operation. Expensive service techs must be flown in to repair them, sometimes they demand the Genset be flown out for service. So where is all of the much touted – competitive to Nuclear? – Solar & Wind. It’s virtually non-existent. I believe BHP (diamond mine) with the typical 25 MWe of diesel generation is planning on installing a small wind turbine - < 100 kw peak. The problem is Solar & Wind is so terribly intermittent and unreliable. You just gotta have good, inexpensive, long lasting battery banks to store the Solar & Wind energy. Crappy lead-acid just doesn’t do the job.

Right now, apparently the Tesla battery packs, and Altairnano’s are running $400 per kwh, but they aren’t sold to lowly peons, such as myself. WE NEED THOSE. The Altairnano’s are about as good as EEStor’s UltraCaps anyway, we just need HIGH PRODUCTION and lower costs. The NiMH large format have been blocked by Chevron – I wonder why? A123 is not selling its LiFePO4 to the general public. Some Chinese dealers are selling LiFePO4 battery packs for about $800 per kwh. See:

The NiMH battery Pelican Brief, How Chevron Buried the Large Format NiMH battery

Pingping’s battery store – LiFePO4 at ~$800 per kwh

EV’s pulled off the Market – to help out the Oil Boys – suck those Oil Fields Dry

Modern EV’s to hit the roads soon – indicate Lithium battery prices in the $400 per kwh range

Contrary to Al Gore’s brain-dead statements on Energy, Solar and Wind do not fit together like Hand and Glove, but Wind and Hydro fit together very well. That is why the Denmark mega-Wind installation relies heavily on Norway’s Hydro plants to effectively store the wind energy in the form of water build up in the Hydro reservoirs. Wind is typically strongest in the winter, when water flows are low, so hydro reservoirs can store water when the wind is strongest. Hydro is typically max in June, when Solar is also max, so they don’t fit well. With Global Warming causing declining rainfall, many Hydro installations will be running well below capacity, so using Wind power to reduce water usage is the most effective means of storing Wind energy. China also, with its huge Hydro installations, can effectively store wind energy very well by building water levels up in the Forebay.

Charles Barton said...

No one is doing much thinking right now, The advocates of nuclear power have not yet recognized the importance of lowering reactor costs, or how to do it. I believe that it may take 4 more years some clarity to arrive in public discourse.

Warren Heath said...

A key point in Nuclear Energy Costs, which most Nuclear Advocates have ignored, is that in a fossil fuel free future, a large portion of Energy Needs, will be high-grade heat. Unlike Wind & Solar, Nuclear Power Plants can supply both the heat and electicity, thus effectively cutting the Energy Cost of Nuclear in about half. So at 8 cents a kWe, for new plants, for 20 years, that's about 4 cents (kWth + kWe), which is sufficient to maintain our civilization.

Charles Barton said...

Warren I briefly discussed that use of small reactors as a source of process heat for industry on Rod Adams Atomic show 101.

Brad F said...

Robert Merkel is absolutely correct that capital cost and service life are more important than energy density for grid support. High energy density can, however, result in lower capital cost if it results in a smaller building or less land used for a storage site.

Sometime soon I'm going to work out what the cost of storage needs to be in order to make money in the market I'm in. I once calculated what the differential between offeak and peak rates had to be to support a flow battery installation, based on costs published for a MW scale wind-battery project. The results were not promising. I'll try for more rigor next time...

Charles Barton said...

Given EEStor's estimate of $40 per KWh or storage, 1 GWh of EESUs would run $40,000,000. 16 hours of over night storage would run $640,000,000. Of course you would have to build the wires to and from the storage bank, and build a physical facility to house it. I will leave that cost for others to work out.

I am not sure about how many charge-discharge cycles can be expected of an EEStor unit. Let us assume 10,000 cycles. That would mean at least 30 years of use. Of course the solar or wind facilities that will feed power into the EESU banks will be far more expensive. But storage with EESU looks economically possible.


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