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The Storage Futures Study (SFS) was launched in 2020 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Storage Grand Challenge. The study explores how energy storage technology advancement could impact the deployment of utility-scale storage and adoption of distributed storage, as well as future power system infrastructure investment and operations.

There is economic potential for up to 490 gigawatts per hour of behind-the-meter battery storage in the United States by 2050 in residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, or 300 times today’s installed capacity. But only a small fraction could be adopted by customers, according to the latest phase of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) Storage Futures Study.

“By implementing new battery capabilities in our model, we were able to do scenario comparison that revealed battery cost and the value of backup power are important drivers of distributed storage deployment,” said Ashreeta Prasanna, lead author of the NREL technical report, Distributed Solar and Storage Outlook: Methodology and Scenarios.

The study provides one of the first published estimates of distributed battery storage deployment. The NREL team of analysts — also including Kevin McCabe, Ben Sigrin, and Nate Blair — modeled customer adoption of battery storage systems coupled with solar photovoltaics (PV) in the United States out to 2050 under several scenarios. The results can help inform planning for technical grid infrastructure to capture the benefits and mitigate the challenges of growing distributed electricity generation.

PV-Plus-Battery Scenarios

The Rise of Behind-the-Meter Battery Storage

A widespread transition to distributed energy resources (DERs) is taking place. Households and businesses around the world are adopting DERs to lower their energy bills and curb carbon emissions. Local policymakers have set ambitious energy and climate goals; grid resiliency is a growing concern due to climate change and weather disasters; and more communities face high energy burdens.

In addition, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 2222 enables DERs to participate alongside traditional energy resources in regional organized wholesale markets.

All these factors have contributed to a rise in DER deployment, including batteries. With declining battery storage costs, customers are starting to pair batteries with distributed solar. Behind-the-meter battery capacity totaled almost 1 gigawatt in the United States by the end of 2020, according to Wood Mackenzie.

While DERs offer many benefits to customers and the grid, like peak load shifting, integrating these resources into the power system presents complex challenges for electric utilities. “The transmission system wasn’t designed with distributed generation in mind,” said Ben Sigrin, coauthor of the report. “Projected DER adoption potential can provide a window into distributed generation and help inform future power system planning.”

Bottom-up Modeling for Bottom-up Generation

NREL’s open-source Distributed Generation Market Demand (dGen) model simulates customer adoption of distributed solar, wind, and storage using a bottom-up, agent-based approach and spatially resolved data (watch a Super Mario Bros.-inspired video to learn more).

For this phase of the Storage Futures Study, the model was modified to simulate the technical, economic, and market potential of behind-the-meter battery storage.

dGen interoperated with NREL’s System Advisor Model (SAM), which simulates the performance and efficiency of energy technologies, including cash flow analysis to calculate payback periods — an important consideration in a customer’s decision to adopt a technology.

By interfacing with SAM, dGen modeled the cost-effectiveness and customer adoption of PV-plus-battery storage systems for residential, commercial, and industrial entities in the United States with different technology costs, storage valuation, incentives, and compensation. The resulting upper and lower bounds of adoption revealed what customers consider most in their decisions.

Lower Battery Costs, High Backup-Power Value Drives Deployment

Across all 2050 scenarios, dGen modeled significant economic potential for distributed battery storage coupled with PV. Scenarios assuming modest projected declines in battery costs and lower value of backup power show economic potential for 114 gigawatts of storage capacity — a 90-times increase from today. When battery costs significantly reduce and the value of backup power doubles, the economic potential increases to 245 gigawatts.

However, only 7% of the estimated capacity is adopted by customers. The difference is largely due to the long payback period for distributed PV-plus-battery storage systems, which averages 11 years for the residential sector, 12 years for the commercial sector, and 8 years for the industrial sector in 2030.

“The estimated adoption potential translates to less than 20% of the market potential,” Prasanna said. “Customers are less inclined to invest in a system that takes a long time to be profitable.”

Modeled deployment varies by location based on specific rate structures or incentive programs but is generally driven by battery cost and the value of backup power. Similar trends are seen on the national scale, where lower battery costs and high backup-power value increase deployment.

PV and Batteries Drive Each Other’s Adoption

Several findings in the study demonstrate that PV and batteries make an economical pairing. Because an average PV-plus-battery storage system is larger than PV-only configurations, battery storage increases the PV capacity and the system’s economic value.

About 34%–40% of total annual PV installations projected in 2050 in the reference or baseline scenario are coadopted with batteries. This rate, again, is driven by higher value of backup power and lower technology costs.

Combined cost reductions in both PV and battery storage technologies drive additional adoption compared to cost reductions in just battery technology alone. When costs decrease for both technologies, more customers adopt PV-plus-battery systems, and deployment increases by 106% in 2050.

“The process of developing and implementing the distributed storage technology within dGen revealed additional questions and needed research capabilities related to behind-the-meter battery storage adoption,” Prasanna said. “Additional enhancements of dGen will be needed to explore research questions such as projecting the adoption of community-scale DERs and storage capacity and their impact on the distribution grid, exploration of the tradeoffs between distributed and utility-scale storage, and the role of DERs in supporting the transition to a decarbonized economy.”

Learn More at August 10 Webinar

NREL’s Storage Futures Study team will host a free public webinar on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, from 9 to 10 a.m. MT. You will learn more about the key drivers of customer adoption potential of distributed storage and how the study findings can help inform future power system planning. Register to attend.

Article courtesy of NREL.

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Aptera’s clever new community funding program prioritizes your SEV delivery the more you invest

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Aptera's clever new community funding program prioritizes your SEV delivery the more you invest

One week after sharing details of its Launch Edition Solar EV, Aptera Motors has announced a community funding program called Accelerate Aptera, hoping to raise between $20 and $50 million. By investing a predetermined minimum, reservation holders have a better chance at receiving delivery of one of the 2,000 Launch Edition Apteras planned. Better still, the person who invests the most on the leaderboard (yes there’s a leaderboard) locks in delivery slot #1.

It’s been a newsworthy week for Aptera Motors and solar EV companies in general. With one fellow SEV startup toiling through a bankruptcy filing and another fighting for its life, our hope in a future of EVs powered by the Sun currently rests heavily on Aptera.

Last Friday, the company’s cofounders Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony held a live streamed webinar, where they walked the public through the specifications of Aptera’s unified, preconfigured Launch Edition solar EV.

The startup’s loyal community was up in arms about the lack of DC charging capability, but it took just three days for the cofounders to take to YouTube once again and quickly makes things right. ALL Aptera solar EVs will now come equipped with DC fast charging, including the Launch Edition. Phew.

While most of last week’s Aptera news was exciting, one discouraging aspect was the fact that deliveries of the Launch Editions remain at least a year away and that the startup needs another $50 million in funding to reach its first gate of scaled production.

Well, the guys at Aptera are back with another video, this time explaining the launch of a new competitive community funding campaign called Accelerate Aptera, complete with a leaderboard.

Aptera funding
The Launch Edition Aptera

Aptera’s accelerated funding program starts at $10,000

The company shared details of its new accelerator program in a post to its website this afternoon, which also included a new video from its cofounders you can peep below. First off, Aptera’s team is working through a Series B2 funding round, but says that will take time to secure and finalize.

Aptera has received a $21.9 million grant, but it is all but guaranteed and the process will not be completed until February or March. Furthermore, the grant is a reimbursement, so Aptera must complete eligible purchases (production equipment, machines, etc.) up to $21.9 million with its own money first.

Enter #AccelerateAptera – the company’s latest community funding program intended to put money in the bank and bridge to gap toward prospective grants and series funding rounds. Per the release:

We want to deliver solar mobility to the world as quickly as possible. Our Launch Edition vehicle is only one of many future products we hope to build that will make the world a better place.  Once funded, we expect it will be 12 months until production of our first vehicle commences. Without funding, we anticipate our timelines will continue to be pushed back. Our community has always been our biggest asset and we’re asking our order holders and other supporters to now help us to accelerate our growth.  If we can raise $20-50 million to execute on the first phase of our production plan, it will help tremendously. We expect our use of proceeds to include capital expenditures such as equipment and tooling and assisting in completing the requirements for obtaining the grant.  

Here’s how the accelerated funding program works.

From now through March 26, anyone can invest a minimum of $10,000 in Aptera to join the Launch Edition leaderboard. Investments over $10k qualify you for a $100 coupon (okay?) and a 5% discount on your Aptera solar EV (up to $2,500 and does not include purchase price).

Whoever contributes the highest investment by the end of the funding round will receive the first delivery slot of 2,000 planned Launch Editions. The remaining 1,999 slots will be prioritized down the leaderboard.

Lastly, those reservation holders who already have their hard earned money invested in Aptera will have those amounts added to their leaderboard funding total… as soon as they donate an additional $10,000.

You can join the funding leaderboard by investing here, and can follow the “competition” here. If you still haven’t reserved an Aptera, you can do so here and get $30 off the $100 fee. To learn more about the Accelerate Aptera campaign, see the video below where the cofounders explain it best.

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Norway just greenlit this vertical-axis floating wind turbine

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Norway just greenlit this vertical-axis floating wind turbine

Swedish wind turbine maker SeaTwirl got the go-ahead to test its 1 megawatt (MW) S2X vertical-axis floating offshore prototype in Norway.

Vertical-axis floating wind turbine pilot

In March 2022, Norway’s Ministry of Energy gave approval to SeaTwirl and Norwegian offshore wind test center Marine Energy Test Centre to pilot the vertical-axis floating wind prototype for five years at a former fish farm in Boknafjorden, northeast of Lauplandsholmenoff, 700 meters (2,297 feet) from the coast.

But four groups – the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, and two campaign groups – appealed against SeaTwirl’s permit, and so the project was put on ice.

Yesterday, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate rejected the appeal, so SeaTwirl’s S2X pilot can now proceed, and no further appeals will be considered.

CEO Peter Laurits said:

Our main focus is the commercialization of large turbines, SX, in floating wind farms. The outcome provides freedom to choose and plan the installation of S2x in the way that best supports that goal.

How S2X works

SeaTwirl says that “multiple S2xs can be placed in a dense pattern for increased output.” The company’s reasoning for building vertical (instead of horizontal) axis floating turbines is this:

The simplicity of the design and low center of gravity are the big advantages. All moving parts and electrical systems are easily accessible [and] close to the water’s surface, lowering maintenance costs.

The S2X prototype is 55 meters (180 feet) above sea level, and it’s around 80 meters (262 feet) below sea level. The turbine diameter is 50 meters (164 feet). Its rotor blade height is around 40 meters (131 feet). Its optimal operating depth is 100 meters (328 feet) and deeper.

SeaTwirl isn’t the only company testing vertical-axis wind turbines off the Norwegian coast – earlier this month, aluminum and energy giant Hydro and floating wind specialist World Wide Wind announced that they’re going to test a vertical-axis wind turbine made out of aluminum.

Read more: These companies will build a floating wind turbine out of aluminum


UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

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Audi hints at luxury electric 4×4 to compete with Mercedes Benz and Land Rover

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Audi hints at luxury electric 4x4 to compete with Mercedes Benz and Land Rover

The luxury electric 4×4 you’ve been waiting for is set to emerge in 2027, and no, it’s not the Mercedes Benz G-Class or Land Rover Defender. It’s a new secret project from Audi.

A luxury electric Audi 4×4 coming in 2027

In a first from Audi, the German automaker is showing interest in the luxury 4×4 segment. The secret new electric SUV will feature a top-notch interior with the ability to perform its best on and off the road.

Audi unveiled its new activesphere concept Thursday, a four-door crossover coupe that doubles as a truck. The concept combines a luxury SUV, sports car, and off-roading pickup into one versatile EV.

Although this is a separate concept from the planned electric Audi 4×4, the off-road EV gives us an impression of where the automaker is headed.

In an interview with Autocar, Audi’s head of design, Marc Lichte, hinted at the idea of a new 4×4, saying:

I think there is space [for a rugged SUV in Audi’s lineup]. There is potential because there are only two premium players, and I think there is space for a third one.

Lichte didn’t give up details other than mentioning it will ride on one of Volkswagen’s platforms other than the Audi-Porshce co-developed PPE platform like the activesphere concept.

Since Volkswagen’s next-gen SSP platform designed for all segments has been delayed until at least 2028, there’s a good chance Audi’s new 4×4 will share technology with VW’s recently revived Scout off-road brand of vehicles.

electric-Audi-4x4-2
Audi activesphere concept, a separate project from the 4×4 (source: Audi)

Following Volkswagen’s announcement last year that it would revive the Scout brand for an all-electric lineup and bring rugged SUVs to the United States, reports surfaced VW was considering Canadian parts manufacturer Magna (which also builds the Mercedes Benz G-Class) to help build the vehicles.

The initial plans called for Audi to build Scout models in a new US facility but were later scrapped. According to Autocar, the two brands may still benefit from each other.

Audi is already working with Magna to develop electric vehicle batteries for the Scout brand. With VW reportedly leaning toward having the part supplier build 100,000 Scout EVs, there could be room for an additional 50,000 electric Audi 4×4 models to be built alongside.

Audi is already familiar with electric off-road technology with its beastly RS Q e-tron rally car (and Quattro four-wheel drive tech) and is well known for its premium luxury interior. It seems like a match made in heaven to me.

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