Posts

Showing posts from March, 2017

Energy Storage is Described as a Dream in Poland, but is Rapidly Expanding in the United States

Image
This is really a bit counter-intuitive, since electricity is much cheaper in the United States. But storing excess electricity for subsequent use to meet peak demand periods or down-time in the grid is moving ahead in the United States where there is lower marginal economy for storage than in Poland.

"...21 U.S. states now have 20 megawatts of energy storage projects proposed, in construction or deployed. In fact, 10 U.S. states have pipelines greater than 100 megawatts."  GTM Research, March 2017.


You have to also note that 20 MW of storage is comparable to a 40 MW peaker plant, since the 20 MW capacity occurs ion the tip and bottom of demand. Ironically, energy storage seems likely to increase the profitable of remaining fossil fuel plants which depend on high levels of utilization to be profitable at all. Keeping fossil fuel, especially coal capacity as in Poland, on hand just to meet the very top of peak demand is very inefficient.
In yet another area, we are seeing Polan…

Profitable Niches in Polish Renewable Energy

Image
While the green certificate prices are wiping out anyone who depends on this support mechanism, and the next round of auctions for support under the new system are delayed by European Commission review, there still is emerging clear evidence of successful niche markets in Polish RES.

Biogas will receive 550 PLN/MWhr and will hopefully receive co-generation support under new legislation still to be passed. At this price, biogas from organic wastes from food, poultry and meat processing is profitable. Household food waste may promise to add to the substrates as the EU moves to require separate collections. However, biogas plants (mesophilic) using farm substrates (manure, silage and grain) are not profitable at the same level of support without capex grants. Virtually all of the farm-based plants in Poland started with grant support. Existing biogas plants on farms have moved to "blue certificates" based on a unique obligation of electricity providers to have a certain number …

End of an Era: Coal Investment Drying Up

Image
Now a new report by environmental NGOs is out that shows a huge change in the global energy investment profile. Some key conclusions:
"After a decade of unprecedented expansion, the amount of coal power capacity under development worldwide saw a dramatic drop in 2016, mainly due to shifting policies and economic conditions in China and India, according to a survey by CoalSwarm’s Global Coal Plant Tracker. The drop occurred in all stages of coal plant development, including preconstruction planning, construction starts, and in-progress construction. Key developments include: ■ A 48% drop in pre-construction activity, a 62% drop in construction starts, and a 19% drop in ongoing construction. As of January 2017 the amount of coal power capacity in pre-construction planning was 570 gigawatts (GW), compared to 1,090 GW in January 2016. (A typical coal-fired generating unit is 500 MW, or 0.5 GW, in size, with most power stations having two or more such units.) ■ In China and India, 68 …

Energy Storage and Demand Management Offer a Solution to the Problem Polish Officials Keep Raising: They Just Don't Want to Face it

Image
The constant complaint of all Polish politicians has been that renewable energy is intermittent. Besides the fundamentally fact-challenged premise that this is a problem with Poland's relatively low mix of renewables,*  the best solutions to this problem with a higher portion of renewable energy in the mix (as well as unreliable coal-fired plants like in Poland) is demand management (differential rates that push more users into non-peak periods) and energy storage.

Near the Polish border, a new German project will create a 16 MW energy storage facility to manage the even flow of electricity to the local grid. "W Chemnitz powstanie duży magazyn energii," Gramzielone.pl, March 8, 2017. Nothing like this is even in planning stages in Poland. 

For misplaced political reasons, Polish politicians continue to think that coal is both reliable and cost-effective to produce electricity. They are alone in Europe in this viewpoint. It may not be realistic to switch off the coal plant…