Posts tagged ‘Solar energy’
Innovation key to solar advancement
Posted by Zeshan Rajput
A new study from UK-based GlobaData reveals that energy storage innovation will be essential to the advancement of solar power generation.
Unfortunately, the study also found that there is little renewable energy storage innovation and few firms focusing on it. “Currently, there are no effective storage systems for megawatt scale solar power plants,” said GlobalData analyst Pavan Vyakaranam.
Concentrated Solar Power uses molten salts to produce power for a short period after the sun goes down, Vyakaranam said. But, while that technology is being used in large-scale solar projects, it’s not efficient enough to be applied on a larger scale.
Ideas for innovation include adapting the processes involved in the generation of thermal energy to solar and other intermittent renewable sources. Pumped hydroelectric storage is currently used as a grid energy storage mechanism. It stores power during off peak hours when energy is cheaper and can be used during peak hours. “Pumped hydro storage is being used on large scale and it does hold hope for application on a larger scale,” Vyakaranam said.
There is little innovation happening in the renewable energy storage field, according to the report. Of 162 US patents issued for solar energy in the first quarter of 2012, only two dealt with energy storage. But there are likely other companies working on solutions, Vyakaranam said.
“Apart from solar energy companies with R&D facilities, storage innovation could also be expected from companies with pioneering research in other areas,” Vyakaranam said. “Companies dealing with advanced batteries and ultra capacitors are the important examples. There are a number of universities and research organizations with extensive research on fuel cell technology and Hydrogen-based energy storage systems, both of which can complement a solar power plant if there is a breakthrough in efficiency and cost.”
He said major energy companies like GE Energy and several battery companies are also doing research to see if battery storage could become more efficient and affordable.
“Currently, as solar energy is close to achieving grid parity in some locations, solar adoption is already increasing steadily,” Vyakaranam said. “However, a commercial storage technique would boost solar adoption in countries where there is excessive and intermittent generation of energy due to renewable energy sources like solar and wind.”
CALIFORNIA STAKEHOLDERS REACH MOMENTOUS INTERCONNECTION RULE 21 SETTLEMENT
On March 16, 2012, fourteen parties to the Distribution System Interconnection Settlement Process filed a settlement in CPUC Rulemaking (R.)11-09-011.
The settling parties represent a wide range of interests, including the state’s three Investor-Owned Utilities, IREC and various other renewable energy advocacy groups and organizations, farm associations, environmental groups and others. Considering this diversity of interests, this settlement is a considerable achievement for all those involved.
The centerpiece of the settlement is a significantly reformed CPUC-jurisdictional Rule 21 interconnection tariff. Upon launching the settlement process for Rule 21 in August 2011, the CPUC’s goal was to craft transparent rules that provide a clear, predictable path to interconnection for distributed generation while maintaining the safety and reliability of the electric grid. Following are key provisions highlighting how the proposed reforms seek to accomplish that goal:
A “Fast Track” process is introduced and designed to build on Rule 21’s successful screening process for non-export and net energy metering customers, expanding Fast Track eligibility to exporting generating facilities up to certain size limits.
A national best practice for distributed generation penetration levels is introduced, under which aggregate interconnected generating capacity can be equal to 100% of minimum load on a distribution line section. This provision is the first of its kind in the U.S.
Specific, transparent time frames for each analysis track are proposed, ranging from simplified Fast Track review to the detailed Independent Study Process.
New rules under which distributed generation developers obtain and retain queue position are set out, including publication of an integrated queue by each investor-owned utility for exporting generating facility applicants at the distribution level.
A “Pre-Application Report” is proposed as a first look at a potential point of interconnection, to assist distributed generation developers with early identification of potential technical benefits or challenges of siting decisions.
New dispute resolution mechanisms are introduced that are designed to respond to developers’ needs, including a utility ombudsman authorized to address certain interconnection-related disputes, and expedited handling of timeline-related disputes by the CPUC’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.
The settlement is now undergoing Commission consideration within R. 11-09-011. The full settlement is available here: Motion for Approval of Settlement Agreement Revising Distribution Level Interconnection Rules and Regulations, and includes the proposed reforms to Rule 21. (more…)