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.
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.
Switzerland put vertical solar panels on a roadside retaining wall
A canton in Switzerland commissioned a project in which solar panels were attached vertically to a roadside retaining wall.
The canton of Appenzell Ausserhoden in northeastern Switzerland is aiming to generate at least 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2035. So, it exercised a little creativity and covered a roadside retaining wall with 756 glass-glass solar panels.
The panels have an output of 325 kW and an energy yield of around 230,000 kWh annually. This is equivalent to the consumption of about 52 Swiss households. The energy will be fed into the grid of energy supplier St. Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke, and the canton will get a feed-in tariff in return.
German mounting system provider K2 Systems and Swiss contractor Solarmotion installed the vertical system on the 75-degree retaining wall. The panels were anchored on a mounting rail with HUS screw anchors, and Lichtenstein-based Hilti provided mechanical dowels.
The PV system was anchored on and in the masonry using an adhesive technique. An anchoring depth of a maximum of 90 mm could not be exceeded so that the retaining wall would not be adversely affected.
Due to the close proximity to the asphalt, the solar panels’ components are subject to exceptional corrosion requirements and are anodized for protection. Indirect components are made of aluminum – only the screw anchors are made of stainless steel.
K2 Systems says that “especially in the winter months (when consumption and dependence on foreign electricity imports are at their highest), the vertically aligned modules will achieve a very good electricity yield.”
This isn’t a big project, but it’s a delightfully creative one, which is why it caught my eye. A retaining wall is dead space, and snow will slide off the panels in Swiss winters.
We at Electrek love it when solar is installed in intelligent and inventive ways. Warehouse rooftops? Cover them. Highway medians? Canal covers? Box stores? Put solar on them. It just makes sense.
Photo: K2 Systems
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Doroni’s all-electric flying car gets flight certified in the US
Flying electric cars are not just for sci-fi movies. Miami-based Doroni Aerospace announced Friday its all-electric flying car, the Doroni H1, received official FAA Airworthiness Certification. And the best part – it’s designed to fit in your garage.
Doroni’s all-electric flying car gets FAA-certified
Doroni claims to be the first company to test manned flights with a 2-seater flying electric car in the US. The Doroni H1 took flight earlier this year.
CEO Doron Merdinger successfully piloted the personal electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) this summer. Merdinger said receiving the flight certification “is not just a milestone for our company, but a leap forward for the entire field of personal air mobility.”
He says the electric flying car “is poised to redefine urban transportation.” Doroni’s aircraft has already received over 370 pre-orders as the startup wraps up funding efforts.
Powered by ten independent propulsion systems, the all-electric flying car has a claimed top speed of 140 mph (100 mph cruising speed) and 60 miles range. Its unique design ensures stability during flight.
It includes four ducts containing two e-motors with patented ducted propellers. Eight are for vertical flight with an additional “two pushes.”
The two-seater aircraft is designed to fit inside a two-car garage at 23 ft in length and 14 ft in width. It also features fast charging (20% -80%) in under 20 minutes.
Electric flying cars coming to a dealership near you
Doroni’s all-electric flying car is semi-autonomous, meaning you can guide it to different levels. A controller stick is used to push you forward, backward, or to the side.
Who would buy one of these? Doroni says one of its customers is a doctor who wants to use the aircraft to skip traffic on their way to work. However, you will need a certification. It requires at least 20 hours of experience, 15 inside the aircraft and another five solo.
Merdinger says the biggest use case for eVTOLs will be for air taxis or ride-sharing. Doroni aims for a different market though.
The company says there is enough space to fly everywhere, especially in suburban areas. Doroni’s all-electric flying car is designed for more than just getting you from point A to point B. It allows you to “enjoy nature,” according to Merdinger.
Doroni expects to build about 120 to 125 units by 2025 or 2026. Eventually, the Miami-based startup plans on scaling to produce 2,500 eVTOLs annually. You can learn more about the electric flying car on Doroni’s website.
The company is the latest to receive the flight certification. Alef’s Model A was the first electric flying car to get certfied in June.
Alef said it had 2,500 pre-orders in July. The orders include 2,100 from individuals and 400 from businesses, including a California car dealership.
Are electric flying cars going to take over road transportation? Not necessarily. At least not anytime soon.
Doroni and Alef are both working on niche markets, which makes the most sense for the time being. At the same time, the companies are pushing forward another sustainble means of transport.
As Merdinger explained “this is just the beginning,” as the technology advances.
Rivian already has a patent on Tesla’s Cybertruck ‘range extender’
Tesla delivered the first Cybertrucks yesterday, and with that delivery event came the revelation that in order to get the range it promised, the Cybertruck needs a separate battery pack in the bed. But a similar battery pack system was already patented years ago, by one of Tesla’s competitors in the electric pick-up space.
Tesla’s Cybertruck website included a revelation about a feature that wasn’t mentioned in its presentation: a “range extender,” in the form of an additional battery pack in the truck bed which expands the truck’s range.
It’s an interesting solution, and we don’t know all the details of it yet. We don’t know the cost, the weight, how it will be installed and uninstalled, or whether it even can be uninstalled.
The battery pack is intended to be used “for very long trips or towing heavy things up mountains,” according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It takes up about a third of the truck bed, as can be seen in a photo posted on Tesla’s Cybertruck site.
So, there’s still room for cargo, just not the full 6 feet of bed length that Tesla says the Cybertruck has.
But the fact that it was described as being used only “for very long trips or towing heavy things up mountains” suggests that it will be removable, since most people don’t do that sort of thing every single day.
Making it removable is actually a good solution, because it can lower prices, make packaging easier, and improve efficiency for vehicles that simply don’t need a ridiculously enormous 470-mile battery – and most drivers don’t need that.
And if it is removable, well, there’s already a patent on that.
In 2019, electric truck maker Rivian filed a patent for a “removable auxiliary battery” that would fit into the front third-or-so of the truck bed. This patent was granted in 2020, so Rivian currently has a patent on this technology.
The patent is described as:
An electric vehicle system for transporting human passengers or cargo includes an electric vehicle that includes a body, a plurality of wheels, a cargo area, an electric motor for propelling the electric vehicle, and a primary battery for providing electrical power to the electric motor for propelling the electric vehicle. An auxiliary battery module is attachable to the electric vehicle for providing electrical power to the electric motor via a first electrical connector at the auxiliary battery module and a second electrical connector at the electric vehicle that mates with the first electrical connector. The auxiliary battery module can be positioned in the cargo area while supplying power to the electric motor, and can be removable and reattachable from the electric vehicle. The auxiliary battery module includes an integrated cooling system for cooling itself during operation of the electric vehicle including a conduit therein for circulating coolant.
We aren’t patent lawyers here, but this sounds awfully similar to Tesla’s “range extender.” The obvious potential differences we can find are if the range extender doesn’t have integrated cooling, which is unlikely, or if the range extender isn’t removable, which doesn’t seem to jive with the statement that it is only for long trips or with the marketing showing it as an optional add-on (if that were the case, why not just offer different battery sizes?).
Tesla itself has many patents (and is still pursuing more of them), but has pledged not to “initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use its technology.” It announced this in a 2014 blog post, and followed up by saying that it thinks several companies are using its patents.
So next, the question is: is Tesla’s solution different enough to avoid Rivian’s patent protection? Has Tesla licensed the idea from Rivian, and we just haven’t heard about it yet? Or will Rivian return Tesla’s “good faith” and not initiate a patent lawsuit against Tesla, if it does feel like it has a good enough case to say that Tesla’s range extender infringes on its patent?
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