York set for 400kW ‘HyperHub’ solar carport with storage

A solar carport backed up with battery storage is set to be built in York as part of its ‘HyperHubs’ project.

The solar carport has a proposed generation capacity of up to 400kW, powering a mix of 160kW and 7kW electric vehicle (EV) chargers.

The solar for the eight ultra rapid chargers is to be located on canopies located over 254 parking spaces in the adjacent Park and Ride car park, with solar also going onto canopies above the five 7kW chargers, which will service 10 parking bays.

A battery storage unit is also set to go onto the site to store any excess solar, with the solar expected to generate up to 380,000kWh of electricity per year.

The carport is the first in the HyperHubs element of the Go Ultra Low York Programme and will be located at the Park and Ride site at Monks Cross. A second site at Poppleton Bar has also gone into planning.

The HyperHubs project will see multiple hubs located around the outer ring road of York, with the aim of providing charging in the key traffic flow corridor and accelerate the uptake of EVs in the city by supporting fleets, residents, through traffic and visitors to have the confidence to use EVs.

This is according to the planning documents submitted by Arcus Consulting Services on behalf of the City of York council.

The plans are still subject to approval from the City of York Council. If approved, building will commence in January 2020 with an aim of completion in six months.

Northumberland County Council had similar plans for a 800kW solar carport with battery storage approved in July. However, local councils were this month warned they may face legal challenges if climate change plans are not implemented, with environmental law group ClientEarthdescribing it as a “collective failure”.

The long history of solar power

Socrates

The classical Greek philosopher Socrates believed the ideal house should be warm in winter and cool in summer. With clarity of thought like that, it’s easy to see how the great man got his reputation.

At the time, such a desire was easier to state than to achieve, yet many pre-modern civilisations designed buildings to capture sunlight from the low-hanging winter sun, while maximising shade in the summer.

All very elegant but that’s not the sort of solar power that will run a modern industrial economy. And millennia went by without much progress.

A Golden Thread, a history of our relationship with the sun published in 1980, celebrates clever uses of solar architecture and technology across the centuries, and urged modern economies wracked by the oil shocks of the 1970s to learn from the wisdom of the ancients.

Oia village in Santorini, Greece, in July 2018
Image captionBuildings in Santorini, Greece, are traditionally painted white to reflect the Sun’s rays

For example, parabolic mirrors – used in China 3,000 years ago – could focus the Sun’s rays to grill meat.

Solar thermal systems used winter sun to warm air or water that could reduce heating bills.

Such systems now meet about 1% of global energy demand for heating. It’s better than nothing, but hardly a solar revolution.

A Golden Thread only briefly mentions what was, in 1980, a niche technology: the solar photovoltaic (PV) cell, which uses sunlight to generate electricity.

The photovoltaic effect isn’t new. It was discovered in 1839 by French scientist Edmond Becquerel, when he was just 19.

Edmond Becquerel
Image captionBecquerel first observed the photovoltaic effect in his father’s laboratory

In 1883, American engineer Charles Fritts built the first solid-state photovoltaic cells, and then the first rooftop solar array which combined different cells, in New York city.

These early cells – made from a costly element named selenium – were expensive and inefficient.

The physicists of the day had no real idea how they worked – that required the insight of a fellow named Albert Einstein in 1905.

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50 Things That Made the Modern Economy highlights the inventions, ideas and innovations that helped create the economic world.

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But it wasn’t until 1954 that scientists at Bell Labs in the US made a serendipitous breakthrough.

By pure luck, they noticed that when silicon components were exposed to sunlight, they started generating an electric current. Unlike selenium, silicon is cheap – and Bell Labs’ researchers reckoned it was also 15 times more efficient.

These new silicon PV cells were great for satellites – the American satellite Vanguard 1 was the first to use them, carrying six solar panels into orbit in 1958.

The Vanguard 1 satellite

The Sun always shines in space, and what else are you going to use to power a multimillion-dollar satellite, anyway? Yet solar PV had few heavy-duty applications on Earth itself: it was still far too costly.

Vanguard 1’s solar panels produced half a watt at a cost of countless thousands of dollars.

By the mid-1970s solar panels were down to $100 (£81) a watt – but that still meant $10,000 for enough panels to power a light bulb. Yet the cost kept dropping.

By 2016 it was 50 cents a watt and still falling fast. After millennia of slow progress, things have accelerated very suddenly.

Perhaps we should have seen this acceleration coming.

Innovative approach pairs Missouri’s first utility-scale battery installations with three large solar energy centres to boost reliability, allowing the use of domestic solar power at night.

Lights, dark, night

 

Ameren Missouri has filed plans with the Missouri Public Service Commission to build three Solar + Storage facilities across Missouri. These new, innovative installations would improve customer reliability and enable access to solar energy around the clock. Each location will connect a large solar energy generation facility to battery storage. The installations will be the first-of-their-kind facilities in the state and among only a handful of Solar and Storage facilities in the Midwest.

“At Ameren Missouri, we’re leading the region with this technology. These non-traditional solutions are expected to benefit customers by increasing reliability, growing the amount of renewable energy generation on the grid, and investing in the communities we call home,” said Michael Moehn, chairman and president of Ameren Missouri. “Innovative projects such as Solar + Storage are moving Missouri forward with smart energy.”

Ameren Missouri is investing approximately $68 million in these Solar + Storage facilities as part of the company’s Smart Energy Plan, which includes thousands of electric projects designed to create a smarter, stronger, more reliable energy grid and introduce new sources of renewable energy, all while keeping rates stable and predictable. The Solar and Storage installations are scheduled to be completed next year.

The proposed Solar + Storage facilities will be located in the communities of Green City, Richwoods and Utica and are expected to bring increased reliability to customers. Building renewable facilities in these communities is cost-effective due to their particular locations.

Each location is expected to have a 10 megawatt (MW) solar facility, making them the three largest investor-owned utility solar installations in the state. During sunny days, customers near the proposed facilities will receive their energy primarily from the solar facility. The solar energy will also charge the battery. In the case of a service interruption, each battery will be able to power connected homes for several hours, giving Ameren Missouri repair crews time to fix the service issue without causing an extended outage. Customers will also remain connected to the larger energy grid.

“This solution wasn’t available to us just two years ago,” said Kevin Anders, vice president of distribution operations and technical services. “Solar and storage technology has made significant strides in the past several years. Prices continue to decline, making them an attractive, affordable option for the communities we serve.”

Ameren Missouri is taking action on its commitment to transition to cleaner forms of energy in a responsible fashion. The new Solar + Storage facilities are part of the company’s plans to add 100 MW of solar generation by 2027. Today’s announcement comes soon after Ameren Missouri’s first Community Solar installation, near St. Louis Lambert International Airport, began serving customers.

“Incorporating several types of renewable energy, and now energy storage, will help us achieve our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050,” Moehn said.

Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company’s electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri’s mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 127,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company’s service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area.

STA calls for coordinated asset registration in light of ‘inaccurate’ BEIS stats

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has slammed government solar deployment statistics, issuing an ultimatum to either “get its house in order” or cease publishing the figures.

Official statistics released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) last week claimed there was 7.5MW of solar deployed in July this year. Around 4.4MW was installed in the 0-4kW band and 1.3MW in the 4-10kW band. A further 1.8kW was installed in the 10-50kW band, according to BEIS’ statistics.

July’s installs are up on the 6.7MW installed in June, but at a time where the Smart Export Guarantee has yet to come into effect, meaning installs aren’t required to be registered with the MCS, there is potential for new capacity to be missed.

The Solar Trade Association – which has previously called into questionthe accuracy of the “meaningless” figures released by BEIS – has once again criticised the stats, calling on the government to implement a centralised energy data catalogue that is accessible to industry.

Market data for small-scale renewables and energy storage that is detailed, accurate and timely is “critical” for driving investment and new business models, ensuring safe, efficient and cost-effective grid operation and supply and providing a robust evidence base for research and policy-making, the STA said.

STA chief executive Chris Hewett pointed to the lack of visibility of large-scale commercial and industrial rooftop PV, which are too large to be captured by MCS registration.

Hewett also cited a report released by the Energy Data Taskforce earlier in the year that stated around 10% of assets aren’t visible to National Grid ESO.

“How will we know if we are on track to reach net zero if the government cannot even be certain of what is connected to the grid?” Hewett said, stating there is an “urgent” need for a coordinated asset registration strategy as limited visibility is “holding back” innovation and decarbonisation.

“It is time for BEIS to either get its house in order or stop publishing these meaningless statistics which clearly do not capture the full picture of UK PV deployment.”

VEHICLE-TO-GRID PILOT SCHEMES GATHER PACE

Momentum is slowly building behind vehicle-to-grid (V2G) electric charging, as manufacturers, power companies and fleets look to capitalise on the opportunities presented by vehicle batteries as power storage solutions.

V2G chargers enable a two-way flow of electricity between vehicle and grid. This gives fleet owners a profit potential – buying electricity at cheap rates, storing it in vehicle batteries, and then selling it back to the grid at peak rates.

The technology also helps to support renewable energy by storing wind and solar power, which will help to smooth out fluctuations in supply.

Nissan ‘power station’

At the end of last year, Nissan became the first manufacturer to receive regulatory approval in Germany for one of its vehicles (pictured above) to be used as a reserve for the German electricity grid. The initiative prequalified the Nissan Leaf as a ‘large power station’ under the German Transmission System Operators’ (TSO) guidelines. The project also involves The Mobility House, which is already working with Honda on V2G technology.

Thomas Raffeiner, chief executive officer of The Mobility House, said: “We see electric vehicles as batteries on wheels whose storage capacities will help us offset the fluctuating availability of renewable energy. Electric vehicles will provide stability to the power grid and thereby make a valuable contribution to the energy transition towards renewables.”

V2G a commercial prospect

The world’s first fully commercial V2G hub is operational in Denmark, run by Nuvve .

“Awareness for V2G technology and the impact it can have for businesses, the electricity grid, and the environment is gaining momentum,” said Gregory Poilasne, chief executive officer, Nuvve.

1,500-vehicle V2G fleet trial 

In the UK, Nuvve has partnered with EDF Energy in a major pilot project to install up to 1,500 V2G chargers at the sites of EDF’s business customers. According to EDF, the chargers will give the national grid access to 15 megawatts of energy storage in vehicle batteries.

Beatrice Bigois, managing director of customers at EDF Energy, said: “We are investing in smart technologies that will help our business customers electrify their fleets in a cost effective way and support the UK’s ambition for clean growth.”

In Oxford, V2Go, a project led by EDF Energy R&D UK, is looking to recruit up to 300 electric fleet vehicles to take part in a real world V2G demonstrator project from 2020-21. Each participant must have a depot where V2G chargers can be installed for up to 10 electric vehicles.

V2G charger prices falling

At today’s prices V2G chargers still look expensive to fleet operators, but their costs are falling and the choice of chargers is rising, said Dr Marco Landi, innovation lead at Innovate UK, a government-funded agency. Speaking exclusively to Fleet Europe, he said the number of different V2G chargers is approaching 10, creating competition which is bringing down prices; these have fallen from £10,000 (€11,000) per charger to about £4,000 (€4,400) in the last few years.

“By 2030 it will cost about £1,000 (€1,100) for a domestic bi-directional charger,” said Landi. “And you will be able to save about £300 (€330) per year, so you will recover your costs within three to four years. That compares to about 10 years to recover the costs of installing solar panels.”

Landi added that with both smart charging and V2G charging, drivers need to change their behaviour to plug in their vehicles as soon as they are parked by a charger, rather than wait until their vehicles’ batteries definitely need to recharge.

“This technology is potentially huge for van fleets. If you are a commercial entity you have even more options to make money from energy services,” he said.

This includes businesses avoiding a ‘triad charge’, the levy they are forced to pay during the highest peaks of demand on the electricity network over the winter months, by using the electricity stored in their vehicle batteries to power their own businesses.

Early adopter fleets will, however, have to select the right vehicles to start V2G charging. At the moment the technology only works with CHAdeMOquick charging system, used by the Nissan Leaf, eNV200,Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Kia Soul EVand Tesla. The rival CCS charging system has said that V2G is on its roadmap by 2025.

Electrification is one of the main topics at the 2019 Fleet Europe Summit (6-7 November, Estoril, Portugal). Get your tickets now and learn how you can optimise your fleet and adopt electric vehicles.

Social Energy: How It Works

Social Energy is a smart energy trading network for solar PV panels and battery customers.

The decentralised grid-trading platform allows Social Energy customers to swap and trade energy with other customers and sell it to the National Grid for the best possible prices.

Firstly, What Is Grid Sharing?

Grid sharing, which the Social Energy energy trading platform is built on, is the term used to describe storage batteries that are connected and able to send energy between each other.

This decentralisation model reduces reliance on the big energy suppliers, while energy wastage is lessened by ensuring all solar energy generated is either used, stored, traded or sold.

The automated artificial intelligence system trades energy automatically, saving customers as much as 70% on their utility bills — but how does it work? We breakdown the mechanics.
Installation Of Solar PV Panels And Storage

For customers to take part in Social Energy they must already have solar PV panels and battery storage installed at their property, so they can generate and store solar energy.

Social Energy is partnered with battery brand Duracell to utilise its domestic 3.3kw batteries.

Home Assessment And Survey

A home assessment is completed to make sure the solar technology installed is compatible, before a survey is taken to discover the energy requirements and usage of the customer.

There are different Social Energy packages and the survey is taken to find the most suitable.

Installation And Connection To Grid-Trading Platform

Once the go-ahead is given the installation of Solar Energy takes just one day to complete.

A grid monitoring box is added to the battery so the system can send data wirelessly to the Social Energy cloud — it then takes up to 28 days before the system is fully connected.

Automated Artificial Intelligence System Kicks In

Once connected, the system’s artificial intelligence platform begins detecting changes to the National Grid, which often needs the additional energy Social Energy customers can provide.

The system, which enables customers to buy and sell energy when required, reacts quickly to the grid to sell energy at the best price possible, with prices fluctuating every half hour.

Customers can also use the grid-trading platform to trade with other Social Energy customers — all this is automated with tracking and monitoring possible using the app.

Battery Charges From Grid

Another great feature of Social Energy is the battery’s ability to charge from the grid when wholesale energy prices are low, before storing the power to be used at a later date.

This means customers don’t have to buy energy from the grid when prices are high.

Home Is Future Proofed

Cutting out the big energy companies and relying solely on renewable energy is one way customers can future-proof their homes from rising and increasingly unpredictable energy costs.

Once set up, customers can just sit back and benefit from the seamless, simple offering.

Social Energy: Powered To You

Net zero can be a catalyst for subsidy-free solar, Foresight says

Kencot Solar Farm, one of Foresight’s operational assets in the UK.

The UK’s net zero law stands to create a “supportive environment” that could act as a catalyst for subsidy-free solar developments, Foresight Solar Fund has said.

The investor, one of the UK’s largest holders of utility-scale PV assets, said this morning that while the UK’s decision to enshrine the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to pursue a net zero economy by 2050 into law did not explicitly mention solar, it provided a strong indication as to the direction of travel for low carbon technologies.

But, Foresight said, subsidy-free solar economics are yet to reach a stage where they’d be considered in line with the company’s expectations. Foresight stressed it still considers there to be “significant opportunity” in the UK’s nascent subsidy-free solar market, but it remains opportunity it is not yet ready to pursue.

Foresight made the comments within its H1 interim results, published this morning. The investor reported an increase in six-month profit to £9.4 million, triggered by a 2.9% jump in asset performance on the back of strong irradiation levels.

The company heaped praise on its asset management function, praising it for a “successful period of consolidation and performance optimisation”. Indeed, the company’s oft-reported troubles with SunEdison-built assets have been surpassed, and its remaining asset performance issues are linked to grid outages and curtailments.

However, one blight on the investor’s copybook is a £10 million hit on its net asset value, caused by a “material” downward revision of power price forecasts.

Nevertheless, Foresight said it was expecting its UK portfolio to enter “more of a steady state” moving forward.

“We remain confident that, with the positive operational performance of our assets, the delivery of value enhancing initiatives and the successful refinancing of 28 UK assets post-period, Foresight Solar continues to be well-positioned to deliver further growth in the second half of the year,” Alex Ohlsson, chairman at Foresight Solar Fund, said.

Renewable energy providing more electricity than coal and nuclear power combined in Germany

Electricity production from wind power increased by 20 per cent in Germany the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period last year

Renewable sources of energy produced more electricity than coal and nuclear power combined for the first time in Germany, according to new figures.

Solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric power generation accounted for 47.3 per cent of the country’s electricity production in the first six months of 2019, while 43.4 per cent came from coal-fired and nuclearpower plants.

Around 15 per cent less carbon dioxide was produced than in the same period last year, according to figures published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in July.

However, some scientists have attributed the high renewable power output to favourable weather patterns and “market-driven events”.

Fabian Hein, from the think tank Agora Energiewende, told Deutsche Welle the 20 per cent increase in wind production was the result of particularly windy conditions in 2019.

Meanwhile, electricity production from solar panels rose by six per cent, natural gas by 10 per cent, while the share of nuclear power in the country’s electricity production has remained virtually unchanged.

Black coal use fell by 30 per cent compared to the first half of 2018, and lignite – a coal-like substance formed from peat – fell by 20 per cent.

However, over the same period, electricity production by natural gas rose by 10 per cent.

Professor Bruno Burger, of the Fraunhofer ISE, said the drop in coal use was the result of a market-driven “fuel switch” from coal to gas.

He attributed the switch to low gas prices combined with a rise in the cost of carbon dioxide allowances in the EU Emissions Trading System.

Yan Qin, lead carbon analyst at final data business Refinitiv, told Clean Energy Wire:  “Since January, we have seen the high carbon price really making the perfect market for gas.”

“We really see an interesting phenomenon: in the daily German power market, a high carbon price and very low gas price is really pushing gas in front of lignite.”

Renewables accounted for 40 per cent of Germany’s electricity consumption in 2018, according to government figures.

While in the UK, 29 per cent of electricity was sourced from renewables last year.

Germany is aiming to phase out its nuclear power plants by 2022. Its renewable energy has been rising steadily over the last two decades thanks in part to the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), which was reformed last year to cut costs for consumers.

But Germany still relies heavily on coal, gas and lignite for its energy needs.

Germany’s reluctance to end its dependence on coal saw hundreds of climate activists storm one of the country’s biggest open-pit coal mines in June to protest against fossil fuel use.

Q CELLS takes aim at UK flexible energy market with home battery solution

Image: Q CELLS.

Q CELLS is launching its AC-coupled home energy storage solution in the UK and Ireland, taking aim at the country’s post-feed-in tariff domestic market.

The Q.HOME+ ESS AC-G2 storage solution has a 6.5kWh storage capacity, provided by a LG Chem lithium ion battery, as well as an AC inverter and energy management system.

The company said the UK’s post-FiT landscape will lead to greater demand for energy autonomy and self-consumption models, with Q CELLS hoping the launch will strengthen its position in the UK and Irish markets.

But Q CELLS has also been keen to paint a larger, more holistic vision for its battery storage product, talking up its ability to provide more flexible solutions for the energy markets, including for uses in grid-scale applications.

The manufacturer said that volume customers would be able to integrate large numbers of Q CELLS batteries for use in virtual power plant or micro-grid applications.

Sean Collier, head of sales for UK, Ireland and Scandinavia at Q CELLS, said that it was the firm’s ambition to become “the go-to energy provider across Europe”.

“The Q.HOME+ ESS AC-G2 storage system is a flexible and reliable piece of the energy puzzle: it can be retrofitted easily into current solar homes or it can be integrated in new installations with any PV inverter. Furthermore, it can connect to other systems to complement smart services for the operators of battery assets – which are a potential source of revenue.”

UK large-scale solar pipeline tops 5GW as project developers return to action

Image: Lightsource.

The UK solar pipeline of large-scale, ground-mount solar farms has grown dramatically during 2019, with 66 new solar farms identified, accounting for 1.8 GW of capacity.

This has taken the pipeline of UK large-scale, ground-mounted solar farms to 5.16 GW, according to the latest release of the UK Large-Scale Solar Farms: The Post-Subsidy Prospect List report.

At the start of 2019, the pipeline was 3.34 GW. However, in the past five months alone, 54 new large-scale solar sites have been added to the pipeline, as many of the original developers (those that were behind the first 8.5 GW of completed large-scale UK solar farms) have returned to greenfield site identification and planning.

The strong upward growth trajectory can be seen clearly in the graphic below.

The UK pipeline of large-scale ground-mount solar farms now stands at over 5 GW, with about 10 new sites being added to the database every month.

All the signs remain positive for the UK becoming one of the key European post-subsidy markets over the next few years. The fact that the first real post-subsidy sites are being constructed now is essentially validation of the economics and return-on-investment projections by developers and asset owners. This is now driving more of the 2010-2016 developers to return to new site identification.

A key driver is of course the fact that module prices have been falling significantly in the past few years, while power rating improvements have been considerable. While in the past, sites were fixed in location, and using mostly 60-cell p-type multi panels (ratings 240-260W), the industry is now moving to 72-cell p-type mono PERC panels with bifacial capability. This allows for 370-400W panels, with trackers and bifacial generation. This is a massive driver in compensating for the lack of subsidies today.

While some of the developers that have returned to the planning stage are still using a business plan that was tried-and-tested before (get planning approval and look to flip, subject to conditions), the approach of those with cash-reserves is seeing previous final asset owners driving site investment from initial planning.

The full audit trail of the sites is available now within our monthly-released UK Large-Scale Solar Farms: The Post-Subsidy Prospect List report. With much of the build-out phased for 2020/2021, component suppliers (modules, inverters, mounting) and EPC contractors (in addition to the sub-contracting network called upon) should ideally be populating sales prospects lists.