Review of recent developments in energy storage. Featuring Alstom, A123 and ITM.


Alstom has announced the launch of MaxSine eStorage, a battery energy storage system for grid applications, in particular helping to address instabilities created by intermittent renewables.

Each MaxSine eStorage module is connected to a battery of up to 2MW capacity, and with additional modules, storage capacity can reach 12 MW.

At generation level, MaxSine eStorage can provide back-up for times when electricity is in high demand, such as evening hours in an urban environment, while power generators and transmission system operators can store energy at times of low demand and low prices. The stored energy can later be made available within seconds to handle peak loads, helping to manage congestion.

At distribution and city level, MaxSine eStorage can help consumers better manage their energy and to buy when prices are lower.
MaxSine eStorage includes a power converter, which connects the DC battery to the AC grid, and real-time control software, which responds rapidly to weather conditions and demand, providing load management and frequency regulation.

MaxSine eStorage is in the process of being deployed in the Nice Grid project, one of the largest smart grid demonstrations in France. The project, launched under the Grid4EU European Initiative, involves 27 partners in 12 European Union countries. The aim is to create a local microgrid integrating MaxSine eStorage with 200 solar panel sites.

Between 2011 and 2013 installed battery storage capacity on the grid worldwide has gone from about 370 MW to 734 MW, says Alstom.

New contract for A123

A123 Energy Solutions (a division of A123 Systems LLC, now part of Wanxiang Group) has announced that it is installing a 1 MW, 2.8 MWh GSS (Grid Storage Solution) for IHI Corp at a factory in Tohoku, Japan.

The GSS will be used to integrate a large PV solar array at the facility and help reduce the factory’s overall load, which will in turn be doing its bit to ease the strain on Japan’s grid which has been in rebuilding mode since the 2011 Eastern Japan earthquake.

"This new contract win proves that A123 Energy Solutions has recovered, is open for business, and is poised for growth," stated Bud Collins, president of the company. "While last year was a challenging one, we were still able to successfully install and commission at several sites around the world. This new project in Japan helps us begin the year with a new win, and we expect to continue this trend and grow the business."

The Tohoku GSS will use the A123’s Long Duration Grid Battery System (GBS-LD), a standard but flexible grid energy storage unit accommodating configurations that range from 100 kW to 4 MW. The GBS-LD can be packaged in standardised 20 ft, 40 ft and 53 ft long containers, custom enclosures, or in pre-existing buildings.

Employing A123 Systems’ Nanophosphate prismatic cell technology, up to 100 MW and 100 MWh of energy storage can be deployed onto a single acre of land.

A123 Energy Solutions has also recently announced that a 2 MW GSS installed for Ray Power Systems, a Chinese energy services company, is now in commercial operation, providing frequency regulation services. Located in Beijing, this is A123 Energy Solutions’ first installation in China to enter commercial operation. The containerised 53 ft long battery is one of A123’s widely deployed High Rate (HR) Grid Storage Solutions, designed to stabilises the grid to maintain power quality.

“Fast ramping and accurate power control improve power quality and help to increase the benefit of the renewable generation China is putting in place," said Eldon Mou, CEO of Ray Power.

A 1 MW installation employing A123’s technology has also recently entered operation in Seville, Spain, as part of the Almacena project, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), again with the aim of supporting renewables. The facility is operated by grid operator REE and is located at the Carmona 220/400 kV substation.

ITM looks at the gas network

Hydrogen energy system developer ITM Power has announced receipt of a commercial contract from AMEC and National Grid to assess the deployment of power-to-gas energy storage technology to reduce energy losses in the UK gas network.

The project will look at the cost and energy benefit of deploying power-to-gas technology at specific sites on the gas network to reduce energy losses and increase system efficiency. AMEC, a tier 1 supplier to National Grid will be undertaking a third party assessment of the cost benefit analysis.

According to Dr Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power, the deployment study could have "very significant market potential in the UK and worldwide."

GRHYD project to demo solid-state H2 storage

The GDF Suez led GRHYD power-to-gas pilot project kicked off on 30 January in Dunkirk, France. Among the participants is McPhy Energy which will be demonstrating its solid state hydrogen storage technology employing nano-structured MgH2 treated with special additives and a patented phase change material that allows heat energy to be stored during loading and used during unloading, increasing energy efficiency.

GRHYD aims to demo technologies for converting surplus electricity from renewables into hydrogen, for storage and subsequent injection into the natural gas network. Other participants include Dunkirk Metropolitan Authority, GrDF, GNVERT, Cofely Ineo, CEA, INERIS, CETIAT, AREVA, CETH and STDE.