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Plug in to Materials Trends for Smart Grid Applications

Plug in to Materials Trends for Smart Grid Applications

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Published by NanoMarkets
There is a general consensus that the current grid is not sufficient in terms of efficiency, reliability, security, and its environmental impact to supply the electrical power needs of our modern society. One solution is to upgrade to a smart grid, the development of which presents many opportunities. While there are several competing technologies that can store electricity (pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheel, chemical storage, ultracapacitor, superconducting magnetic), NanoMarkets believes that the most exciting opportunities will come from materials and systems applications of chemical batteries and ultracapacitors.
There is a general consensus that the current grid is not sufficient in terms of efficiency, reliability, security, and its environmental impact to supply the electrical power needs of our modern society. One solution is to upgrade to a smart grid, the development of which presents many opportunities. While there are several competing technologies that can store electricity (pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheel, chemical storage, ultracapacitor, superconducting magnetic), NanoMarkets believes that the most exciting opportunities will come from materials and systems applications of chemical batteries and ultracapacitors.

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Published by: NanoMarkets on Nov 13, 2009
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01/31/2011

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NanoMarkets
thin film|organic|printable|electronics
 
www.nanomarkets.net
Page
 
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1
 
Plug
 
in
 
to
 
Materials
 
Trends
 
for
 
Smart 
 
Grid
 
 Applications
 
This
 
article
 
is
 
based
 
in
 
part
 
on
 
research
 
from
 
There is a general consensus that the current grid is not sufficient in terms of efficiency, reliability,security, and its environmental impact to supply the electrical power needs of our modern society.One solution is to upgrade to a smart grid, the development of which presents many opportunities.While there are several competing technologies that can store electricity (pumped hydro,compressed air, flywheel, chemical storage, ultracapacitor, superconducting magnetic),NanoMarkets believes that the most exciting opportunities will come from materials and systemsapplications of chemical batteries and ultracapacitors.Chemical batteries and ultracapacitors offer a compelling value proposition compared to othersolutions as they are the most economical solutions for electrical storage and are not limited tocertain geographical locations. They also have an extremely small carbon footprint, and offersignificant potential applications today as well as a roadmap to deeper market penetration asmaterials improvements and manufacturing improvements/cost reductions evolve over the nextdecade.Smart grid storage can be categorized into short-term storage for load leveling and quality uses(less than a minute) and longer-term storage for peak shaving/load shifting applications (storagefor minutes or hours). Ultracapacitors are well suited to load leveling and quality applications asthey have an extremely fast discharge and charging response, have a high current capacity andcan be cycled hundreds of thousands of times without degradation to their storage ability.Chemical batteries are ideal candidates for peak shaving applications as they have higher energydensities and in many cases long service lifetimes.The near-term opportunities for load leveling storage are clear. Approximately 90 percent of poweroutages last for no longer than two seconds, and 98 percent of outages last, at most, 30 seconds,but their economic effects are large. Estimates range from $75 to $200 billion per year impactfrom power interruptions due to lost time, lost commerce, and damage to equipment. While thereis currently a large growth market in UPS systems to protect critical infrastructure, improvements
 
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to ultracapacitors both in capacity and manufacturing costs reductions will create new markets forthem especially in new industrial and commercial construction.Chemical battery storage represents a critical component for several smart grid applications atseveral levels along the value chain. Bulk price arbitrage, central generation capacity efficiency(peak shaving), transmission capacity/transmission congestion relief and the integration of variableoutput sources such as wind and solar are all crucial applications of storage in a successful smartgrid. The need for storage to integrate solar and wind cannot be over emphasized. Thirty stateshave renewable energy mandates that average 17-percent integration of renewable energysources by 2010-2025. Only with a significant amount of electrical storage can this level of windand solar be integrated into a stable electrical grid, so the value proposition of new forms of electrical storage is difficult to overestimate.
Quick Tour of Opportunities in Smart Grid Storage
The importance of the electrical grid is difficult to overstate. The percent of overall energyconsumption in the form of electricity has risen form 10 percent in 1940, to over 40 percent today,and this is projected to be the fastest growing source of end-user energy supply throughout theworld in this century. The term "smart grid" is a still-evolving, catch-all term to describe all of theimprovements currently being made and proposed to the current electrical grid that will increaseefficiency, reliability and security.Components of the evolving smart grid include smart metering of electricity, smart materials toenable higher current overhead lines and self recovery during outages, intelligent components(substation components can communicate with the wider smart grid), plug and play components(new components will actively insert themselves in the intelligent network), reconfigurablecomponents (can reroute power effectively and automatically when outages occur) and storage of electricity for quality and peak shaving applications.There are several drivers to upgrade the electrical grid infrastructure. For producers, there is atwo-fold incentive. First, as the recent spike in fossil fuel prices shows, feedstock prices arevariable and can wreak havoc with energy producers and their ability to provide affordable power.There is also an increasing incentive to use the existing power-generating resources moreefficiently--both as a more effective use of capital and because the regulatory impediments to
 
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increase generating capacity are becoming an ever-larger hurdle to investment in increasedgenerating capacity. Because there is currently no storage on the grid, there must be enoughcapacity to meet maximum demand, which results in an overall usage of generating capacity of about 40 percent. Increasing environmental concerns is another driver to develop a smarter grid,as it will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through more efficient use of generating capacity.While it has been one of the least talked about requirements to achieve the desired smart grid,electrical storage is now starting to be recognized as a crucial piece of the smart grid puzzle. TheU.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is now developing a coherent national plan for energy storageresearch as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). Perhaps the biggestdriver of this for both short- and long-term storage is the planned addition of significantintermittent generating sources (wind and solar) to the grid. The intermittent nature of thesegenerating resources requires stored energy that can be released to the grid at a moments noticewhen there are sudden fluctuations in power provided by the wind and sun. Significant energystorage will be a requirement to reach the 2030 renewable energy state and federal mandates. Asthe percent of wind and solar on a grid passes above 10-15 percent instabilities can occur if thereis no storage capacity. In fact, Ireland put a moratorium on the connection of new wind power totheir national grid due to instabilities as the wind generating capacity exceeded 7% of overall gridcapacity. Current estimated storage requirements for effective capacity firming of large wind farmsis 15-20 percent of the wind farm rated capacity. Capacity firming also reduces the transmissionline capacity requirements for moving energy from remote wind generation facilities to populationcenters.Large-scale energy storage is not a new concept. For example, a 31-MW pumped hydroelectricplant came on line in the U.S. in 1929. Pumped Hydro is one of the most efficient methods to storeelectrical energy but is limited to areas with attractive geological features that can store thepumped water. By 2000, about 3 percent (18,000 MW) of the total power delivered to the grid wassupplied through pumped hydro facilities.Compressed air energy storage (CAES) is also currently under consideration. A 115-MW demoplant was put into service in the early 1990's. Like pumped hydro, it is limited by attractivegeologic features, in this case namely underground formations such as depleted gas fields and salt

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