Until recently, the UK government’s future energy plans relied heavily on expensive new nuclear power plants to provide baseload capacity as old fossil fuel plants shut down. This was also going to ensure grid stability to support increased intermittent and volatile renewable generation. However, the energy system is fundamentally changing. We don’t need expensive nuclear power to keep the lights on – a more flexible energy system will enable renewables to flourish.
Blockchain has been a buzzword in many industries over the last couple of years, including the energy sector. However, despite best intentions, blockchain for energy continues to struggle to get beyond the hype and provide any real benefit. Instead, it adds complexity to the electricity system rather than solving the critical systemic challenge to provide people with clean, reliable and low cost power – the energy ‘trilemma’. Ready Founder & Chief Technology Officer Matthew Williams’s article that originally appeared on Current+.
In this response to Greg Clark MP, Founder & Chief Technology Officer Matthew Williams and Chief Economist & Head of Government Affairs Richard Dowling together challenge the idea that the Energy Trilemma is “over” and examine how greater amounts of renewables will affect energy security and energy equity, should there be no change to the current grid.
In September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown made history by signing the revolutionary Senate Bill 100 (SB 100). The truly ground-breaking requirement is the stipulation for California to be 100 per cent carbon free by 2045. Achieving such an ambitious target will require innovative technological solutions. Read Oliver Forsyth’s writing on what circumstances and factors to consider.
Variable renewable energy (VRE) is forecast to reach 50% of total generation by 2050. To balance the inherent variability, a surge in storage technology with respect to grid power and quality is expected. The most popular technology, lithium ion battery storage does not come without its constraints. Read Peter Lo’s writing on the trends surrounding storage and variable renewable energy.
Rapid acceleration of changes in the energy sphere renders preparations for their implicit challenges difficult. Bloomberg’s recently published 2018 New Energy Outlook (NEO) highlights key market drivers and integrates insight from a variety of experts to evaluate how the energy market will evolve in the coming decades.
From a pragmatic perspective, the electricity system will have to technologically adapt to enable these trends without inflating costs or dangerously destabilising the system. Electrical Engineer, Alex Kleidaras reviews some of the claims of NEO, with regards to their implications and requirements for their feasibility.
The New York State electricity grid’s challenges – similarly to other grids worldwide - derive from the fact that the current network architecture restraints the system’s ability to accommodate shifting electricity uses and generation types.
Reactive problem solving is not sufficient to sustainably provide the system flexibility such rapid changes require. It is a resilient systemic solution that is required to relieve the system from its pressures and provide an opportunity for further innovation.
Faraday Grid Ltd. (Faraday) has developed a completely new technology that provides a systemic, cost-effective solution. Read Jagadeesh Guda’s white paper that documents the techno-economic implications of the Faraday Grid technology in specific to the New York state electricity grid.
The tenth annual Advanced Energy Conference took place in New York City to bring together influential leaders, key researchers, and policy makers from every part of the energy sector. On the opening day of the conference, Andrew Scobie, Faraday Grid CEO took stage to speak about the pioneering Faraday Grid solution, specifically, the possibilities it can open up for progressing microgrid technology.
CEO, Andrew Scobie joined industry leaders at the Energy Storage and Connected Systems 2018 conference to present at a panel discussion focusing on the systemic evolution of grid operation and its relation to new technologies. The presentation analysed the current energy challenge, mitigating technologies, and the Faraday Grid's solution.
WHITE PAPER ATTACHED
The secure operation of modern electricity networks is becoming an increasingly difficult task as grids continuously employ complex interconnections, intermittent non-dispatchable renewable generation, and nonlinear loads. While these actions aim to improve power system reliability and meet sustainable energy requirements, they significantly reduce the system’s fault tolerance, inertia, and damping levels. The Faraday Exchanger (FE) technology delivers key technical and economic benefits, as demonstrated through results obtained from detailed simulations on numerous electrical networks from various countries.
The Launch Event of the Faraday Grid, including a live demonstration of the Faraday Exchanger device attracted over 150 guests from academia, science, and business. This truly unique technology is able to dramatically increase the amount of renewable energy in the grid, reduce carbon emissions and reduce the cost of energy to consumers. In this review, Richard Dowling, Chief Economist reflects on night and the implications of this groundbreaking technology.
A modern grid supplying modern electricity demands should be able to provide environmentally friendly energy securely and at an affordable price at once. There are a number of technology pathways being suggested to modernise the electricity grid, and adapt it to the new reality of distributed variable renewable generation. This article gives an overview of these technologies.
Australian innovator Faraday Grid announced today in Paris as finalist in global Energy Productivity Innovation Challenge (EPIC) 2016. The COP21 meeting in 2015 in Paris marked a significant commitment to set global goals for energy efficiency targets. It was also the venue for the launch of the EPIC program. CEO Andrew Scobie, Director of R&D Matthew Williams, and CMO Jacqui Porch were in Paris at the IEA Conference for the awards announcement on the 13th of October.
The intention of policy makers to reduce greenhouse emissions is a story of incentives. It’s always a story of incentives - the question is, incentives for whom and at what cost? Incentives and waste; cost and benefits, can be seen as determining the productivity of public choice. As in all human endeavors means need to be fit to ends. So the institutions and infrastructure of the energy sector need to be enabled to deliver a low carbon future.
My plan to save the planet keeps bumping into the seen and the unseen. Almost no one would argue with the great lesson of the stoic philosopher Epictetus. The world divides into that which depends on me, and that which does not. For the stoics, the lesson was that I shouldn’t worry about that which I can’t control. Instead I should focus on making good choices over those things and events I can control. Right there is where the trouble begins.
Sep 5th 2015 | From the print edition
EARLIER this year, after months of planning, the managers of Europe’s electricity grid were ready for the biggest test so far of an energy system that increasingly relies on renewable power. That event was a partial solar eclipse on March 20th—and the “worst case scenario” was that it would take place on a sunny day, causing a sudden disruption of solar power, creating fluctuations that could damage the grid and anything connected to it.
At the centre of concern was Germany, with some of the world’s biggest solar installations. In 2014, almost 7% of Germany’s electricity was generated by solar panels, although on sunny weekdays the proportion can reach 35% and even 50% at weekends. The passing of the Moon between the Earth and the sun could have been equivalent to the loss of 80 medium-sized European power stations.
As it turned out, although the sun shone in southern Germany and northern Italy, cloudy skies elsewhere limited the eclipse’s impact. Even so, the European grid operators had to greatly increase the backup supplies normally on hand and turn off some energy-intensive processes, such as aluminium smelting. And then it had to cope with the surge in solar generation as the eclipse passed.
An eclipse is an extreme event, but as more homes, offices and factories fit solar panels and become, in effect, mini power plants feeding surplus electricity into the grid, engineers are having to perform a similar balancing act every day. Without careful monitoring, the intermittent nature of solar power—even with the sun passing briefly in and out of clouds—can lead to voltage surges and drops, causing brownouts and power cuts.
Moreover, maintaining a consistent level of power is now vital as modern digital devices, such as computers, televisions and equipment in factories, hospitals and offices, demand a steady voltage and frequency, unlike the clunky electronics of a few decades back.
To protect power quality some countries have placed restrictions on new solar installations. In Hawaii, for instance, sudden swings in electrical output have led to a slowdown in the issuing of solar permits. Australia has also placed constraints on new installations. Even some utilities in all-too-often overcast Britain have limited the amount of solar electricity which can be fed into the grid.
Companies are coming up with ways to maintain power quality. Some of the gear is based on inverters, which are used to convert the variable direct current produced by a solar panel into the alternating current on the grid. Renewable Energy Solutions Australia, for instance, makes a system called VoltLogic which can limit the amount of power exported to the grid from solar panels. This, the company says, allows new solar installations to be automatically approved by a number of Australian utilities.
Some utilities want such solar export-limiting equipment to respond to demand changes on the grid in less than one second, says Fraser Durham, commercial director of Argand Solutions, a British company. His firm produces a control system called GridGEM for companies using solar panels. This constantly analyses an organisation’s power use to determine when to buy electricity or to export any surplus according to a utility’s constraints. The system can also switch equipment on or off, channel any surplus renewable power into batteries and operate “private lines”, which are independent distribution networks which might be set up by a group of neighbouring companies to share locally produced solar power.
Saving some for later
Surplus renewable power could also be stored on the grid with beefier battery systems. Various technologies, from giant lead-acid batteries to pumping compressed air into caverns and letting it out to drive turbines, are being developed (see Technology Quarterly December 6th 2014).
Better batteries will also let businesses and homes store more of the power they generate instead of having to export it. Some of the advanced lithium-ion batteries Tesla will make for its electric cars at a giant factory in Nevada will also be sold as 10kWh and 7kWh storage units for domestic solar installations. Delivery of the first batteries, which will be contained in a unit called Powerwall, are scheduled to begin next year. Multiple Powerwalls can be connected together for sites with greater energy needs.
Instead of being a one-way line to deliver electricity, grids of the future will need to be smarter and more flexible to handle the distributed power systems being created by renewable energy.