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IKEA research lab blends solar with blockchain

IKEA’s research and design laboratory SPACE10 has launched a project to explore how solar power can combine with blockchain technology.
 
Copenhagen-based SPACE10 is running the SolarVille project in collaboration with blockchain experts BLOC and Blocktech.

“Centralised energy systems are often too slow and economically inadequate to reach the billion people who remain locked in energy poverty,” said Bas Van De Poel, Creative Director at SPACE10.

“SolarVille showcases that, when working in tandem, technologies such as solar panels, microgrids and blockchain open new opportunities: off-grid systems allowing people to leapfrog traditional grid electricity.”

He said SolarVille is intended to create “the prototype for a realistic, scalable self-sufficient, community-driven solar microgrid, including a fully working energy trading platform enabled by blockchain technology”.

The plan is that while some households will generate their own energy using solar panels, other homes automatically purchase the excess electricity generated in the community directly from the producer.

Using remote sensors and distributed ledger systems, the transaction network enables self-sufficient monitoring and optimisation of distributed energy resources in a localised network setting – “a miniature neighbourhood completely powered by solar energy” says Van De Poel.
   
He explained that SolarVille wants to exploit two key concepts: to capture the huge advantages that the modular nature of solar PV can deliver; and then enhance those advantages by utilising blockchain technology.

Solutions developed by BLOC and Blocktech will allow households to automatically trade energy with each another according to their individual needs.

Distributed ledger technology is used to log and manage the energy flow, verify and record transactions, and enable energy sharing via a microgrid. The distributed ledger technology enables smart contracts within the microgrid which self-execute when certain conditions are met.

“From a technical and blockchain-based point of view, the installation is true to an intended real world installation,” said Blocktech’s Thorkild Grothe-Màƒ¸ller.

“The project demonstrates that it is possible to provide a transaction-based system for the less privileged humans having little or no access to electricity, which is both tamper-free, secure against hacking and protected against central governance by powerful and sometimes corrupt companies and governments.”

The unveiling of SolarVille coincides with the release of a study from SPACE10 called “ËœA Brighter Tomorrow: Solar Power and Its Importance to the World’s Energy Future’ , which champions solar microgrids as a pathway for widespread adoption of renewables. Click here for the report.
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Blockchain technology will form a key part of the Digitalization focus at POWERGEN Asia in Malaysia, and also European Utility Week in Paris. 

 

New deal strengthens Siemens’ DER prospects

by Philip Gordon

Siemens has announced plans to acquire the string inverter business of the KACO new energy, at an as yet undisclosed sum, subject to regulatory approval.

KACO is headquartered in Neckarsulm, Germany, manufacturers of energy-related power electronics.

The company’s inverter units are designed for residential and commercial buildings as part of solar park systems and focusses on the fastest growing segments of string inverters for solar and storage applications.

“With this acquisition, Siemens gains access to the latest technology, while KACO new energy will benefit from the resources required to scale up. Together, we will be able to apply the technology in exciting growth segments”, explained Cedrik Neike, managing board member at Siemens.

Siemens is looking to strengthen its presence in high-growth fields such as decentralized energy systems. The company says distributed energy, renewables and e-mobility are playing an increasingly important role on the energy value-chain.

Jean-Christoph Heyne, Head of Siemens’ new Future Grids business, noted: “Siemens is in a strong position to succeed in technology that supports the energy and mobility transition. The acquisition of KACO new energy enhances our portfolio in attractive growth segments at the grid edge. Our new Smart Infrastructure Operating Company comes into operation on April 1, 2019 where our strengths in electrification and buildings will enable us to thrive in the market and continue to expand in the areas of decentralized energy, renewables, storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”


This article was first published by Smart Energy International and was reprinted with permission.

Tesla acquisition will spark shift in EV market

One of the most game-changing news events in the electric vehicle and energy storage industry, is the acquisition of Maxwell Technologies by Tesla for $218 million, according to Frost & Sullivan.

by Philip Gordon

The deal is expected to be finalised in the second quarter of 2019.

Maxwell Technologies is a pioneer in the design and manufacture of the high power density ultra-capacitors. The company has virtually unlimited opportunity, playing in the transportation, industrial and consumer markets.Maxwell’s core megatrends which drive its values include integration of renewable energy into the grid, electrification of ICE and accelerating EV growth fits like a glove into Tesla’s energy strategy.

Tesla Model 3 currently has an energy density (at cell level) of 210 Wh/kg and 275 Wh/liter at the battery pack level. Maxwell claims that its patented dry cell electrode can produce energy density of over 300 Wh/kg which is 42.8% increase whereas the planned energy density of over 500 Wh/kg would be a 138% increase compared to Tesla’s current batteries.

Such a boost in the energy density will be a breakthrough in the EV industry as it can propel Tesla cars from the current range of 220 miles to around 375 miles. The end result of applying Maxwell’s dry cell technology would be a simplified manufacturing process which can lead to 10 to 20% cost reduction with better battery life (up to 2x).

The acquisition offers the following benefits to Tesla:

  • Pairing Tesla’s Powerpack with Maxwell’s ultra-capacitor storage systems for utility-scale applications such as primary frequency response and grid stabilization.
  • Automotive applications – start-stop, regenerative braking, and actuated power.
  • The dry electrode manufacturing process which is an environmentally friendly process without solvents will improve battery performance including energy density and range while cutting down manufacturing costs.

So what impact will this acquisition have on Tesla’s partnership with Panasonic?

There are clear signs that Tesla is looking to diversify in terms of battery suppliers to reduce its dependency on Panasonic.

In addition to acquiring Maxwell, the company is already in talks with several Chinese battery manufacturers for local battery sourcing to cater to vehicles manufactured at Gigafactory 3.

Meanwhile, Panasonic inked a deal with Toyota for the manufacturing of rectangular-shaped prismatic batteries which it aims to sell it to other OEMs such as Honda. It’s certainly a temporary blow at the moment for Panasonic; however, the exclusive partnership for the Gigafactory at the Nevada plant is expected to keep Panasonic in play.

Frost & Sullivan believes that this acquisition is expected to be a clear winning strategy for Tesla as it has certainly bought a company whose goals clearly aligns with its vision.

Also, they acquire an experienced technical and manufacturing team in Maxwell which is noticeably capable of making important advancements in the EV and storage industry.

Given the fact that Musk already has a background on ultra-capacitors, Tesla is expected to commercialize the dry electrode manufacturing technology sooner than expected with potential synergies for the company which will further cement its position in the lucrative EV business.


This article was first published by Smart Energy International and was reprinted with permission. 

Solar hybrid microgrid electrifies Tanzania villages

A solar-hybrid mini-grid project is underway in Tanzania.

In the current first phase, 11 new mini-grids are being constructed to bring electricity to a population of more than 80,000 people.

Built on a cluster of islands in Lake Victoria, the independent solar hybrid mini-grids, equipped with battery storage technology, will electrify 20 villages and are due to be commissioned in June.

A second phase aims to build up to 11 more mini-grids to electrify 23 additional villages, bringing energy services to a population of over 160,000 people.

The projects are being built by JUMEME Rural Power Supply, a joint-venture between INENSUS, a German microgrid company, Austrian renewable energy project developer Terra Projects, and the St. Augustine University of Tanzania.
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Finnish energy company Fortum is to build a 250 MW solar power plant in India.

The plant in Rajasthan is for Solar Energy Corporation of India and it is due to be completed and commissioned in 2020.

Fortum currently operates solar capacity of 185 MW in India. In June last year, it won the right to build 250 MW of solar in India which currently is under construction and expected to be commissioned in 2019.
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Keep up to date with the latest African trends and technologies at POWERGEN Africa.

Burns & McDonnell hires Knight as energy & utilities advisor

Mark R. Knight joins Burns & McDonnell in the Business & Technology Solutions (BTS) Group, where he will serve as an adviser for the energy and utility industries. Knight brings more than 30 years of experience with utility companies as a utility employee in the U.K. and the U.S., and as a consultant for utilities and other clients in the electric supply industry.

Knight

From distribution, transmission, metering, and systems integration, to deregulation, grid modernization, and interoperability, to asset management, risk management, resilience, and transactive energy, Knight draws on his experience to find new ways to create value for clients in the energy and utility industries. His background includes project management, business development, research and development, information technology (IT), systems integration and business process reengineering.

“Mark’s diverse background, coupled with his global experience, provides him with the ability to serve as a highly strategic industry adviser for the energy and utility industries,” said Chris Underwood, vice president and general manager, BTS Group, Burns & McDonnell. “When you combine all of his experience with his strong technical acumen, Mark is a go-to resource for all things related to utility transformation. Mark’s in-depth understanding of the energy and utilities industry and his ability to simplify the complex will be extremely valuable when developing holistic, comprehensive strategies for our clients during this time of utility transformation.”

Knight is chairman emeritus of the GridWise Architecture Council (GWAC), a group formed by the U.S. Department of Energy to promote and enable interoperability among the many entities that interact with the nation’s electric power system. He also chairs the SEPA Transactive Energy Working Group, serves on the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) Advisory Board for the Grid Evolution Summit and is a member of the Advisory Board for Penn State’s GridSTAR program. He led the Institute of Asset Management’s Reliability Engineering subject specific guidelines (SSG), and he was also the lead for the Contingency Planning & Resilience Analysis SSG, as well as a co-author for the Configuration Management SSG. 

Scottish Power announces $2.6 billion renewables investment

UK utility Scottish Power has announced it will spend up to £2 billion in the UK in 2019, the company’s biggest ever investment in the country in a single year.

The announcement came as Scottish Power updated its investment plans following the sale of its thermal generation business and transition to 100 per cent renewable energy in 2018.

ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson said: “Our first investment plan since leaving coal and gas behind is a historic milestone for ScottishPower and is a vote of confidence in the UK’s commitment to decarbonising the economy. In a time of uncertainty, the UK needs to deliver its Industrial and Energy strategy, and that’s what we’re providing with our biggest-ever investment in a single year.

“Consumers want and need access to reliable, clean and affordable energy. That is what ScottishPower is focused on delivering and as long as government climate change commitments stay firm, with sensible policies to support them, this investment will continue.

“Now that we have sold our gas power stations our growth plans are about cleaner and smarter power that will help the UK to decarbonise faster and we have set out the part we will play in the transition to electrify the economy where it matters most now – in transport and in heating.”

Between 2018-2022, Scottish Power will spend £6bn in the UK, with 40 per cent on new renewable energy generation, 42 per cent on smarter enhanced networks and 15 per cent on innovative services and products for customers.

Scottish Power will invest in smarter services for customers, including products to unlock the market for electric vehicle ownership.

As part of its strategy for growth, ScottishPower announced plans for a new public electric charging service based within the company’s Retail division. The new business will install fast chargers across the UK at strategic commercial locations from winter 2019.

The company also announced plans for a 50 MW battery storage project at Whitelee, the UK’s largest onshore windfarm. The large-scale battery project will be the first of a series of storage schemes, mainly located at windfarms and at strategic points on the network. ScottishPower believes the combination of renewable energy and flexible storage are the most cost effective low carbon solution for consumers. 

In renewables, ScottishPower set out plans to develop a 1 GW pipeline of onshore wind projects by 2025. Onshore wind remains the lowest cost technology for new electricity generation in the UK and ScottishPower sees substantial opportunities for the continued development of onshore wind projects across Scotland and other areas of the UK.

Construction continues at pace for the East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm located 43km off the Suffolk coast. The £2.5bn project will see 102 Siemens Gamesa turbines deployed, each with a capacity of 7 MW. Over 50 per cent of the project’s total investment will be spent  in the UK, ensuring the benefits of East Anglia ONE are felt across the country.

Scottish Power has also gained planning consent for East Anglia THREE windfarm for up to 1200 MW and planning consultations on the company’s next two large offshore windfarms in the East Anglia zone have begun. If consents are granted, it is anticipated that East Anglia TWO will commence construction in 2024 and East Anglia ONE North will commence construction in 2025.

SP Energy Networks will continue to deliver smart and efficient grids capable of supporting the UK’s future energy needs. In 2019 the networks business will focus investments on continuing the company’s leading role in connecting renewables in Scotland, Wales and England.

Investments will also target the digitalisation of the grid including ground-breaking artificial intelligence systems that will control and balance the network in areas with high penetration of low carbon technologies enabling the transition to widespread use of electric vehicles. 
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This article first appeared in our sister title Smart Energy International.

Black & Veatch hired for UK tidal energy project

Black & Veatch has won a design services contract for a tidal energy project in the UK.

The company will design cabling, substation, transformer and switchgear assets for the Morlais Demonstration Zone which is off the island of Anglesey in Wales.

Morlais is managed by Menter Màƒ´n, which leases areas of the seabed to developers for the construction of tidal arrays. “Tidal energy’s potential is significant, but the infrastructure is still developing,” said Robbie Gibson, Black & Veatch’s UK director for renewable energy. “Demonstration zone projects such as Morlais are crucial stepping stones in helping marine energy reach maturity and commercial viability.”

He added that Morlias has the potential to generate 240 MW of tidal energy. By sharing costs such as planning, environmental consents, and grid connectivity, the demonstration zone is designed to give developers a “Ëœde-risked’ environment in which to assess and optimise the array-scale performance and reliability of tidal generation technologies.

“The intermittent nature of wind and solar energy is a challenge to the uptake of renewable energy, but tides rise and fall every day. By helping de-risk the development of tidal energy, we are helping the UK establish a more reliable source of renewable energy,” Gibson added.

Gerallt Llewelyn Jones, a director with Morlais, said the project “is an important project for Menter Màƒ´n and the island of Anglesey. It has the potential to become one of the largest tidal stream energy sites in the world, bringing with it local economic and community benefits. We are pleased, therefore, to be working alongside Black & Veatch on the project. They have a wealth of experience in the sector and a reputation for innovation, and will certainly add value as our work progresses.”
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Emerging renewable technologies will be a key focus of POWERGEN Europe in Paris later this year. 

Shell buys virtual power plant firm Limejump

Shell New Energies has continued its spending spree this week, with the acquisition of UK-based energy technology company Limejump.

The deal comes hot on the heels of Shell agreeing to buy German battery company sonnen earlier this month.

Limejump is a digital energy platform operating in the decentralized energy sector. It manages some of the largest portfolios of batteries in the UK and last year became the first aggregated virtual power plant unit admitted into Britain’s Balancing Mechanism market.

Upon completion of the deal, Limejump will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shell and Limejump chief excutive Erik Nygard said: “This is an exciting moment. We are in the middle of a revolution towards a future where many electricity networks around the world are powered by renewable electricity

“Shell will help us to drive our innovative technology platform to new heights and support the Limejump team to make a bigger impact on the industry than previously possible. This agreement supports our continued mission to revolutionise the energy industry and to put it simply, we are now super-charged and ready.”

 

Despite criticism, solar roads remain part of Georgia sustainable highway lab

An ambitious incubator in Georgia intends to spur a zero-carbon transportation future, despite criticism that its ideas are expensive or impractical.

While solar roads have been criticized as impractical and inefficient, a Georgia foundation says they will continue to be part of its research lab for greener highways.

The Atlanta-based Ray C. Anderson Foundation has received nationwide praise for “The Ray,” an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 85 in Georgia that showcases a variety of technologies aimed at cutting emissions and other impacts from transportation — including right-of-way solar, electric vehicle charging and strategies to reduce pollution.

Solar roads — a glass roadway surface that generates electricity — have seen disappointing results in tests elsewhere, but neither the foundation nor state officials are ready to give up on the technology.    

The Ray’s solar road, currently a short section at the project’s visitor center, was developed by a French transportation company, Colas, working in conjunction with the French National Solar Energy Institute. The first installation in France produced only half the power expected. A different experiment in Idaho, called Solar Roadways, generated far less power than expected and was not field tested for traffic. A solar roadway in China may be faring better — though some panels were stolen after it was laid down, and China won’t say what it cost.

Experts say solar rooftops and parking canopies are cheaper and more efficient.

“Solar roads are likely to only be a niche source of power in the future,” said Dylan Ryan, a lecturer in mechanical and energy engineering at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Even with upgrades and modifications, Ryan said, “it’s likely the performance gap between solar roads and conventional solar will remain.”

But The Ray’s board shrugs off such criticisms. They incubate projects in order to test their viability, said Allie Kelly, executive director of The Ray.

“Though smart technology has infiltrated our lives, our roads have not kept pace,” she said. “Our microwaves do more than our highways.” She said that roads could potentially charge electric cars, power homes and offices, light drivers’ way at night, and keep people safe in multiple ways by texting them based on cloud-sourced information.

Before the Wattway panels can be used on roadways here, they will have to be extensively tested. The Ray Foundation points out they are doing just that. 

“DOTs can have a cautious approach,” he said. “Working with The Ray allows us to take a bit more risk.”

“The Ray’s board tries things the state would never fund with taxpayer money — at this time,” said Tim Echols, an elected official on Georgia’s Public Service Commission. “But because they have the money and work so well collaboratively, they are able to make that stretch of highway a living laboratory for their projects.”

Rolling out photovoltaic and interactive technologies

The Ray’s other projects include a solar-powered electric vehicle charger (sponsored by automaker Kia), pollinator plants for ground cover on “underleveraged” DOT land, Wi-Fi-enabled way stations to check tire pressure, and by the end of 2019 a 1-megawatt solar array, which was approved by the Public Service Commission and will be installed by Georgia Power.

“That’s 4½ acres of dormant single-use real estate on the highway and we’re going to build an array there,” Kelly said. “We’re only the third state to do this, and it will help other states evaluate the opportunities on their own interstate real estate.”

“We look forward to gaining valuable experience with this pilot project about the potential for solar generation along the highway,” said Georgia Power spokesperson John Kraft.

Solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations could also prove economically feasible. The Ray’s sun-powered electric vehicle charger is free to any visitor. There are 25,000 electric vehicles in Georgia currently, and as they become increasingly affordable and appealing, the state might eventually generate revenue from electricity while gasoline tax revenue declines.

State Rep. Todd Jones, a Republican from Georgia’s Atlanta-area District 25, expects to see many more electric vehicles in the state’s future. “We’re going to see car batteries going to 500 miles on a single charge by 2020 and 1,000 miles by 2025.”

One day solar trees might power electric vehicle stations at exit ramps.

“We are in talks with Georgia Tech to launch a study on the cost of installing panels at exit ramps along The Ray, along with EV charging stations,” said Costas Simoglou, director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Energy Technology. “The idea is that if you keep seeing this technology and charging stations, you may be tempted to make your next vehicle electric.”

Reducing carbon through automated tire pressure testing

A study conducted by researchers at Georgia Tech University found that cars on the short stretch of The Ray emit 250 tons of exhaust daily, burn about 9.4 million gallons of fuel each year, and produce 70 decibels of noise pollution on average, disrupting nearby wildlife.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that about two billion gallons of gas are wasted every year because of underinflated tires, said Anna Cullen, director of external relations and communications for The Ray. To combat that, The Ray has installed a system engineered by the WheelRight in England, where individuals drive their vehicles slowly over buried sensors. The sensors instantly measure the tire pressure and tread wear, sending a text message to the driver. it’s a first in the U.S. and, if deployed on a larger scale, could help lower overall fuel consumption. As of November 2018, WheelRight sensors had scanned 18,500 tires at The Ray’s welcome center.

“What I like about the approach of The Ray is that they are willing to spend foundation money to help seed their own ideas,” Echols said. “The state simply provides the land and the cooperation via the rest stop and the right-of-way. By starting small and trying so many things, The Ray’s board is attracting attention from all over the world.”


Jill Neimark is an Atlanta-based journalist who writes for venues such as Science, Scientific American, Discover, Nautilus, NPR, Quartz and others.

 
This article was originally published by the Energy News Network and was reprinted with permission.

CLEAResult names Scott Boose as new CEO

Energy efficiency firm CLEAResult announced Tuesday that Scott Boose has been named the company’s new CEO.

Boose succeeds Aziz Virani who has served as CEO since January 2016. Boose joins CLEAResult from Service Experts, a pan-North American home services provider with over 700,000 customers.

In his role as president and CEO, Scott focused on growing Service Expert’s distributed services capability. CLEAResult;s announcement says Boose’s long history in the distributed services sector gives him insight into the energy landscape and positions him well to guide CLEAResult into its next stage of growth.

“I want to thank Aziz for his tremendous leadership over the past three years and for helping to establish CLEAResult as a preeminent leader of energy efficiency services in the U.S. and Canada,” said Mark Fields, chairman, CLEAResult Board of Directors. “I look forward to partnering with Scott as we chart the course for CLEAResult’s continued growth, leveraging his knowledge of the industry, track record of success, and focus on serving customers well.”

Austin, Texas-based CLEAResult has worked with more than 250 utilities on energy efficiency and demand response projects throughout North America. The company, which has more than 2,500 employees in 60-plus cities, is owned by equity firm TPG and The Rise Fund.

 

“CLEAResult has a history of providing exceptional service and innovation for its utility clients, and I am excited to work with this team to build on this impressive track record,” said Scott Boose, CLEAResult CEO. “As an industry leader, CLEAResult will continue to drive innovation in the next generation of energy efficiency and demand response solutions while maintaining and expanding its focus on positive customer experience.”