The Future of Energy Storage
On the 31st of January, the topic of energy storage stood central in our event organised in cooperation with the municipality of Rotterdam and with the support of Witteveen+Bos. During this afternoon the latest developments in the scope of energy storage were discussed from different angles, including latest developments in technologies and applications. This article will include highlights from the event. In addition, we added all the presentations from the speakers here.
Hannes Kunz, chairman of the Institute of Integrated Economic Research set the tone of the afternoon with a speech explaining the role of energy storage as part of the energy transition. Hannes elaborated on the energy storage technology landscape, consisting of (1) physical storage (e.g. flywheel), (2) storage by shifting electrons (e.g. batteries) and chemical storage (e.g. hydrogen). He explained how each of these technologies are applicable in different situations, addressing different needs for storing energy. Three parameters are of importance here; (1) the energy efficiency of the technology, (2) the energy density of the technology and (3) the storage duration (short or long term) potential.
The three key takeaways from his presentation were that (1) energy storage must go hand in hand with demand shift, (2) we likely won’t be able to replicate today’s energy services at today’s cost in the future and (3) we should take a systems approach to address the complexity of the total energy system
Next up was Jessica Hernandez from Lux Research, who zoomed in on stationary energy storage. Jessica started by comparing vehicle storage with stationary storage, explaining that stationary storage should be approached in a different way due to the fundamentally different characteristics and needs from EVs. The applications of stationary storage can be subdivided into utility services, behind-the-meter services and future services. Different technologies facilitate these applications. Lux has analyzed the whole stationary storage landscape, and has created a graph to show which technology can provide the lowest cost service, depending on the needs of a storage project. Six technologies are mapped in a graph based on their (1) power potential, and (2) their discharge time. This graph shows among others that hydrogen provides the lowest cost service for seasonal storage projects, and Li-Ion does this for behind-the-meter services.
Investing in new battery types and materials, deploying high cycle life energy storage technologies and partnering with optimization and aggregation software providers provide concrete opportunities for the stationary storage landscape.
Ruud Kortlever, professor at TU Delft explained how the transition of the chemical industry and the energy transition are reinforcing. The e-refinery program at TU Delft explores the possibilities of storing electrical energy into chemical bonds, thereby producing chemicals that can be used as fuels and feed stock. CO2 for example, can be directly converted into useful chemical using only water and electricity.
One application that he discussed in the context of storage was the Battolyser, a system in which a battery is integrated with an electrolysis. When the battery is fully charged, the electrolyser will activate and start producing hydrogen from the excess electricity. This allows for one both short term energy storage (the battery) and seasonal energy storage (hydrogen) with one device.
Break Out Sessions
The keynote speeches were followed by three simultaneous break-out sessions covering the topics of energy market models, the built environment and mobility. For each topic, innovators presented their solutions for the market and each session was moderated by an industry expert.
This session was introduced and moderated by Frans van Herwijnen from EVconsult, a leading consultancy agency with the goal of accelerating the transition to zero-emission transportation. They distinguish themselves by having unique international expertise in the field of e-mobility. Major trends in mobility were defined by Frans as: Connectivity, autonomy, electrification, public transportation, heavy transport, shipping and sharing, not only with cars but also in light vehicles (e.g. Felyx). Trends like these require extensive developments in energy storage, but there are some barriers to wide-scale storage. Examples of barriers include that (1) from a legal perspective there is the issue of double taxation and (2) the cost of technology is still very high and there seems to be a lack of incentive for consumers to use storage.
First, Peter-Paul van Voorst tot Voorst outlined the business model of Skoon: Companies are having an increased level of interest in green energy sources, however there seems to be an unmet demand in green energy supply. Skoon conveys to be the solution for this gap. Knowing 90% of the total world trade is transported by sea, this organization plays into the market by developing modular battery containers who are able to foresee vessels in green energy with an initial capacity of 1.5MWh. Additionally, the battery can be managed and monitored with the Skoon Sailer app, making it highly efficient and easy to use. Backed by Damen as a strategic partner, Skoon is a promising start-up bound to advance sustainable shipping solutions.
Second, Nick Hubbers defined the business model of Jedlix. This start-up offers ‘smart charging’, which entails charging your electric vehicle with greener and cheaper energy. Naturally, this service is paired with an intelligent app, which is able to create a personalized charging schedule for each individual customer based on time of departure, available capacity on the electricity grid and the level of availability as well as the price of energy. Noteworthy is that besides the positive impact this service has on the environment, consumers get rewarded financially because they consume electricity when prices are lowest. This makes it an attractive and innovative business as it provides solutions to challenges in the field of energy storage.
The mobility break-out session was concluded by Maarten Klein Geltink from Hedgehog applications. This organization tackles several challenges in the field of energy storage. Maarten started his presentation by stating that reliable charging is essential, especially with the increased emergence of e-mobility vehicles. In addition, Hedgehog predicts an unbalanced supply and demand for renewable energy in the near future, warning that our public energy grid ”is getting full”. Moreover, they observed a significant waste of braking energy. This directly links to the solution proposed by Hedgehog. They will store braking energy (from trains) temporarily in their Energy House. In return, this energy will be used to charge e-buses with an intelligent platform.
During this break-out session the topic of energy markets was introduced by engineering and consultancy agency Witteveen+Bos, who operate in the field of water, energy, industry, the built environment and infrastructure. They outlined storage in the context of the three electricity markets (Futures, Day Ahead & Intraday, Imbalance). The business cases for storage that W+B presented in this context were seasonal storage, peak shaving and grid balancing through flexibility.
Guido D’Alessi from Elestor discussed the hydrogen bromine flow battery the company has been developing. This battery is able to safely store electricity at a relatively low cost, as opposed to flow batteries with different chemical components. The high energy density and low costs per kWh allow for affordable energy storage at capacities varying between 100 kWs and tens of mWs. Elestor managed to cut costs in three different areas: 1) the use of low cost and abundant active materials, 2) an easily manufactured compact shell and 3) a patented simplified system design. In result, the company manages to be the most economical friendly option in storing electricity with the use of flow batteries.
Next, Pim Sauter from Dexter addressed how their start-up aims to enable the electric grid to sustain 100% renewable energy sources by offering the industry smart energy services based on machine learning technologies. The software developed by Dexter uses machine learning algorithms to forecast energy market prices, forecast energy loads and aids in optimally dispatching flexible assets. Next to the use of artificial intelligence, Dexter profiles themselves as fully automated and cloud-based in order to ensure security, scalability and affordability.
This presentation was followed by Peter Teerlink from S4 Energy. This company’s purpose is to fully unlock the power of energy storage. Peter discussed the use of flywheels in making energy and power management more flexible, smarter and profitable. By using a flywheel with an exceptionally high mass and large diameter, it is able to reach a maximum speed of 950 km/h. This gives way for energy storage with very low standby losses. Noticeable is how flexible this technology is due to the applicable software S4 Energy offers with the intention of helping in tailoring individual needs for consumers.
The third break-out session, built environment, was introduced by Philip Gladek from Spectral. Spectral energy develops technological solutions that help to accelerate the evolution of smart energy networks. For the built environment he defined several emerging market models: 1) Local Market Platform as a gateway to wholesale and balancing markets 2) Two-way communication and dynamic pricing based on wholesale market participation 3) Automated trading of PPAs, smart flex contracts and P2P energy exchange 4) Deployment of local energy services (e.g. congestion relief for the DSO) and 5) seamless integration of new customers, producers and aggregates.
First, Vincent Ruijter introduced iWell, an organization producing smart energy storage systems for apartment buildings of Social Housing Corporations (SHCs). The biggest customer problem they are currently facing is that SHCs struggle to balance in investing in sustainable housing while trying to keep SHCs affordable. iWell provides a solution for this problem, given that it saves money while it also reduces CO2-emissions. It reduces peak electricity usage, has a lower grid connection, is able to store solar energy and is less dependent from the (usually fossil powered) grid. By doing this, it is able to benefit the customer by making electricity cheaper, cleaner and independent from uncertain feed-in tariffs.
After this, Ruud Cuypers from TNO discussed the heat battery they developed to store long-term thermal energy. First, he defined the biggest challenges for heat storage which are 1) cost efficiency, 2) compactness and 3) cycling efficiency. Next, several technologies to face those challenges were discussed. As of now, there is a working prototype available of the heat battery, which is a breakthrough in the field of energy storage. It stores the warmth of the summer sun and uses that same warmth to heat homes and buildings in the winter. Remarkable of this system is its ability to sustain many cycles of hydration and dehydration.
Finally, Hugo van den Borre (Solenco) explained their vision for energy systems in households. Solenco profiles themselves as the bridge between residential needs and the currently available solar system. The technology used by Solenco operates in the following way: Water and electricity from renewable energy sources are stored in the Reversible Fuel Cell powered by a Renewable Energy Source that splits the water in Oxygen and Hydrogen. In the process, only oxygen is released into the atmosphere and the water can be stored for a longer period of time without degradation. Next, the Reversible Fuel Cell uses the stored water to produce electricity and heat with a 95% efficiency. This enables the generation of electrical and thermal energy on demand for households.
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