It’s with great delight that I read about the handful of U.S. utilities that are seriously testing out various conservation, smart grid, storage and renewable technologies in an effort to extend greener offerings to customers. The latest is Duke Energy’s McAlpine Creek project, part of which involves the deployment of a 50 kilowatt solar PV array, consisting of 213 solar panels, at a substation that feeds the grid or, alternatively, can charge up a 500-kilowatt zinc-bromide battery system.
Duke hasn’t revealed any detail of the specific vendor technologies it is using, but I’m betting that the battery system for this particular pilot comes from Mass.-based Premium Power, which is largely operating in stealth mode at the moment. For one, the company’s TransFlow 2000 product fits the bill. It has 500 kilowatts of power and stores up to 500 kilowatts 2.8 megawatt-hours, is UL and CSA certified, and one of its main applications is for the time-shift of renewable generation energy. Boston Power, backed by VantagePoint Venture Partners, claims its storage product costs the same as pumped storage over the long term, or about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. I also remind that last October, when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke at an event in Toronto, he mentioned that Duke Energy had ordered $100 million worth of Premium Power’s batteries. An advisor and partner with VantagePoint, Kennedy also said a Canadian utility had ordered $100 million of the batteries as well. Continue reading Duke Energy solar storage pilot worthy of replication
My Clean Break column today takes a look at a few startups that are trying to make wind farms more reliable and productive. Most of the companies I’ve mentioned in the past — Whalepower (blade design that mimics humpback whale flippers); Premium Power (utility-scale zinc-bromide battery storage cheap enough to couple with wind turbines/farms); and Catch The Wind (LIDAR adapted for integration into wind turbines). In the column I also discuss Vancouver-based ExRo Technologies, which has developed a new kind of generator with a built-in electronic transmission rather than an external mechanical transmission. This is a potentially game-changing innovation. Continue reading Why the future of wind power looks better and better
Okay, so I’m sitting in a hotel meeting room listening to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talk to members of Ontario’s Electricity Distributors Association and the high-profile environmental lawyer mentions that he’s on the advisory board of venture capital firm VantagePoint Venture Partners. That’s pretty cool, I thought. He talks about some of VantagePoint’s investments, including electric-car champion Better Place, solar-thermal power provider BrightSource, and energy storage company Premium Power. He then zeroes in on Massachusetts-based Premium Power and its zinc-bromide flow battery technology, which is touted as a fully recyclable/disposable, non-toxic battery based on zinc and salt water. The battery has three times the energy density of lead-acid, is cheaper, and has an operating life of 30 years with virtually unlimited ability to cycle. “It’s cheaper than using pump storage,” Kennedy claims, emphasizing that this technology can affordably store renewable energy like wind and solar power today — we don’t have to wait for future breakthroughs. Continue reading $200 million in orders for Premium Power?