The development of energy storage capabilities is a key to the continued growth of the renewable energy sector. Solar and wind are inconsistent sources of energy and, for renewables to thrive, ways must be found to store energy for when it is needed.
Last week, Adara Power and Aquion Energy said that they will partner. Under terms of the deal, Aquion’s Apsen batteries will support Adara’s iC3 technology. The platform, the press release says, is comprised of intelligent controls and cloud connectivity. The press release says that the iC3 Platform integrates battery and inverter controls with cloud software and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.
The release says that iC3 technology optimizes battery life and performance “relative to a facility’s electrical load demand.” Aspen batteries are, according to the release, “clean, sustainable, and long lasting.”
Research on battery technology is increasing. Last week, New York’s Empire State Development announced that the Eastman Kodak Company and the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST) will construct two multi-user battery cell assembly line at the Eastman Business Park site in Rochester.
A key driver of the increase in research and development in batteries was the massive natural gas leak that hit southern California in 2015. The leak, according to a story in The New York Times, eliminated a fuel source for power plants in the area.
The story looks at the response, which were a series of battery installations. The idea of storing energy is attractive but fraught with technical challenges – including the possibility that the batteries explode.
The first fruits of the development program are almost here, the story says.
After racing for months, engineers here in California have brought three energy-storage sites close to completion to begin serving the Southern California electric grid within the next month. They are made up of thousands of oversize versions of the lithium-ion batteries now widely used in smartphones, laptop computers and other digital devices.
Batteries are not a new idea for grid-level energy storage. The story goes into the history, which includes a battery that exploded in Hawaii in 2012 and ongoing initiatives by Tesla, which last year bought SolarCity.
Some of the battery projects are lower profile. At Fort Devens, an Army Reserve base in the Boston area, an approach is being tested by a company called Vionx that could result in unlimited storage, according to a story at WBUR.
The technology is a liquid containing the element vanadium. It is, of course, complex. The basics are that vanadium is suspended in two connected tanks in a weak solution of sulfuric acid. Electrical charges flow between the tanks. This, called an electrochemical vanadium redox reaction, enables the storage of energy, the story says. The vanadium system is in its early stages. In addition to perfecting the technology itself, huge reductions must be made in costs for the approach to be viable.
People in the renewable sector understand that the bookend to generating electricity from wind, sun and other natural resources is storage. Clearly, they are putting their research dollars behind the effort.