SOLCER “Zero Carbon” House Wins “Innovation in Sustainability” Award

Prompted by last Friday’s bombshell from Westminster we bring you this only slightly stale news about an award winning “Zero Carbon House” developed by the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University. The building does incorporate energy storage so we’re still on topic, and here’s a video that reveals how the “SOLCER House” manages to generate more energy than it uses, averaged over a calendar year:

As a Cardiff University press release revealed less than a month ago:

In a bid to meet tough targets for zero carbon housing, Professor Phil Jones and his team from Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture developed the first low-cost energy positive house.

Designed and constructed as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute’s (LCRI) SOLCER project, the house is the first to combine reduced energy demand, building integrated renewable energy supply and energy storage.

Professor Jones said: “We are proud of our house, and delighted to win this Award. Governments across the world, including the UK, have set a target of achieving zero carbon housing by 2019. We have to rise to that challenge and come-up with innovative new ways to build the homes of the future.”

The ‘Innovation in Sustainability’ Award, sponsored by leading law firm Geldards and IP Group, recognises the team’s outstanding contribution to the environment.

The SOLCER House is in the news again today, since the official launch is currently taking place near Bridgend in South Wales. According to the BBC:

Designers at Cardiff University say they have constructed the sort of house George Osborne once described as impossible. The chancellor scrapped a requirement for new homes to be zero carbon by 2016 because he said it would prove too expensive, but Cardiff University say they have built a house that exports more power to the grid than it uses, and crucially they say the cost fell within the normal budget for social housing.

A government spokesman said house builders needed to be given more time to develop low energy homes.

The house took just 16 weeks to construct and cost £1,000 per sq m – that’s within the range for social housing of £800 to £1,000 per sq m, the designers said. In future, they say its owners will make money from selling excess energy.

Here’s a slightly longer video that uses time-lapse photography to reveal how the house was constructed over those 16 weeks:

As the original press release concluded:

The story of the SOLCER house will be documented in academic journals and conferences, the project was supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The award was presented to Professor Phil Jones; Dr Joanne Patterson; Ester Coma (Welsh School of Architecture) and Andrew Davies (SIPs Wales) by Andrew Evans, Partner, Geldards Law Firm.

Do you suppose that George Osborne and David Cameron are qualified to comprehend academic architectural journals?

My Electric Avenue Preliminary Results Revealed

Just in case the name is unfamiliar to you, the My Electric Avenue project has been running for a couple of years now. According to the My Electric Avenue web site:

Whilst there’s plenty of capacity to deliver power for EV charging across the UK, if the charging requirements are concentrated in small areas and during peak demand, local feeders can become overloaded. With the development of even faster charging times, this problem shows no signs of fading.

The full size and scale of the problem that EV clusters could cause will only become apparent to Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) when they are already on the network, demanding costly mitigation measures in short timescales.

EA Technology and Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) are working together with partners under the Ofgem Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund to develop a ready-made low cost solution. EA Technology is developing an EV charge control system to balance out the charging cycles of EVs at times of network stress.

To test the system the trial is simulating a future EV network, and to do this, clusters of EVs have been ‘created’.

If all that information strikes you as being a bit on the dry side, here’s an episode of Robert Llewellyn’s “Fully Charged” show that explains the project in a more entertaining fashion!

I watched a webinar last week in which some preliminary results from the project were released, but EA Technology had a few internet connection problems due to high winds in the North of England, and the feed gave up the ghost halfway through! To rectify that they’ve made a video of the proceedings available to all and sundry, and here it is:

There’s also a page on the My Electric Avenue web site where you can download additional information.

The data referred to in the video is based on the initial results from an ongoing survey. It explains that the approximately 200 participants who each leased a Nissan LEAF were split into two roughly equal groups. The “technical” group used “smart” or “controlled” charging, whilst the “social” group simply had their EV charging activity monitored. There’s obviously much more detail available from the video and accompanying documentation, but in brief:

  • Only ~5% of people disagreed with the proposition that “EVs are easy to live with”, however
  • 117 out of 193 people “struggle to charge away from home”
  • Of those 117, 12% intend to buy their LEAF at the end of the trial and 43% intend to lease it
  • Overall 17% intend to buy their LEAF at the end of the trial and 41% intend to lease it
  • Even after the “controlled” charging trial 80% of people like to charge their car until it is full
  • Of the people on the “technical” trial, 16% disagreed with the proposition that “My electric vehicle charges sufficiently in the time available to charge”

The concluding section of the presentation points out that the sense of “community” was very important to the success of the project, with “local champions” recruiting friends and neighbours into their “cluster” of EVs a vital element of that.

The final report on the My Electric Avenue project is due to be released by De Montfort University towards the end of October 2015. In the meantime if you are in the EV business and you would like to take a quick survey yourself on the topic of “Industry Views on the Impact of Cycling Electric Vehicle Charging” then you can do so over at:

Nissan and Green Charge to Deploy Second-Life EV Batteries

In a press release earlier this week Nissan expanded on some of the points Carlos Ghosn made in his speech to Nissan shareholders last month. “In his latest LinkedIn Influencer post, Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn points to encouraging figures for electric vehicles, including the sale of the Alliance’s 250,000th EV in early June”

I don’t see other automakers as competitors when it comes to zero-emissions vehicles. They’re allies. And it is great to see the number of “Alliance allies” growing, as other automakers introduce more affordable EVs to compete with the segment-leading Nissan LEAF.

We reached the 250,000-unit milestone in early June, four-and-a-half years after the LEAF was introduced as the world’s first mass-market, zero-emission vehicle.

We also are seeing demand grow quickly in places where businesses and governments are joining to expand the charging infrastructure, and as more motorists get the chance to experience an EV.

In fact, computer engineer Yves Nivelle, who bought our 250,000th EV, was spurred in part by an incentive in France that encourages owners of older diesel-engine vehicles to trade them in on a new EV.

That sort of enthusiasm is quite common among our EV owners. Our EVs enjoy among the highest levels of customer satisfaction that we have seen for any vehicle. Operating costs are low, they require less maintenance, and they are fun to drive.

2015 Nissan LEAF cutaway

2015 Nissan LEAF cutaway

In other recent news, companies are forming to take advantage of re-packaging used EV batteries for other uses. Nissan recently announced it is teaming up with Green Charge Networks, an energy start-up, to reuse LEAF batteries to store energy for commercial and industrial buildings.

After many years of service, car batteries eventually need to be replaced. But they still retain enough charge for lighter chores.

When electricity rates are highest, in the middle of the day, a corporate customer can switch its energy use from the power grid to these re-packaged batteries. Or, even better, it can use the batteries to store unused energy from rooftop solar panels. Some homeowners already are doing this by connecting their solar panels to their EVs, to store the energy in the car’s batteries for later use.

Battery technology continues to improve, as well. In fact, the day is nearing when the typical EV motorists will be able to leave home with a full charge, go about their daily routine, and return home with ample charge remaining in their Nissan LEAF or Renault ZOE.

Later this year, you will hear more about our initial steps to increase the range of our EVs. Our goal is to eliminate “range anxiety” for our customers, as we continue our effort to make zero-emission vehicle a mainstream choice.

I missed it first time around, but additional information is available in the “Second-life” press release of June 15th:

Nissan Motor Company and Green Charge Networks, the largest provider of commercial energy storage, have joined forces to deploy second-life lithium-ion vehicle batteries for stationary commercial energy storage in the U.S. and international markets.

2015 Nissan LEAF battery pack

2015 Nissan LEAF battery pack

As part of the company’s commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Nissan has conducted multiple research projects in Japan, the U.S. and Europe to use LEAF batteries outside the vehicle through 4R Energy, a joint-venture with Sumitomo Corp. formed in 2010.

In a new stationary storage application powered by Green Charge’s intelligent software and Power Efficiency Agreement™, the second-life energy storage unit has a cost advantage over traditional units, opening up new markets where incentive programs are currently not offered.

Engineering teams from both companies have worked together for more than a year to ensure safety, reliability and performance of this offering for commercial customers.

The first combined storage unit will be installed at a Nissan facility this summer, where multiple Nissan LEAF batteries will be configured to offset peak electricity demand, creating savings while also benefiting the utility grid. Systems like this also can be paired with renewable energy sources such as wind or solar to further reduce a facility’s environmental footprint and enhance energy savings.


Hydrogen Fuel Cell Drive System is the Future of BMW eDrive technology?

In a press release about their 2015 Innovation Days the BMW Group have revealed that:

The strategic collaboration between the BMW Group and the Toyota Motor Company agreed at the beginning of 2013 has provided fresh momentum for the development of FCEV drive technology. The aim of the collaboration is to have an initial group of approved components ready by 2020. The successful introduction of FCEVs is dependent on the development of a hydrogen infrastructure in the markets concerned.

The two collaboration partners are supporting this process through jointly created technological standards which make fuel cell-powered vehicles easier to use and help to increase their reach and numbers.

Whilst we wait to discover how, where and when the hydrogen infrastructure BMW refer to materialises in Europe they go on to state that:

The hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) represents a pioneering concept focusing on locally emission-free mobility combined with hallmark BMW dynamics and a high level of energy efficiency. The hydrogen fuel cell drive system combines the benefits of BMW eDrive technology with a host of qualities familiar from conventional combustion engines:

  • All-electric, locally emission-free driving.
  • BMW eDrive electric motor generates instantaneous power delivery and impressive dynamics.
  • Power electronics, high-voltage battery and intelligent energy management based on the BMW Group’s eDrive technology.
  • Long-distance capability with an operating range of more than 500 kilometres (300 miles) thanks to the high energy density of the hydrogen carried on board.
  • Fast and convenient refuelling in under five minutes.

Fuel cell technology therefore makes an ideal addition to both the BMW i models and, in the future, the series-produced models from the BMW brand fitted with tried-and-tested eDrive technology. It converts the gaseous hydrogen contained in the storage tank into electric power and water vapour. The vehicle’s high-voltage battery serves as an energy storage unit and can therefore be considerably smaller – with a net capacity of around one kilowatt hour – than in battery-electric concepts. Storing hydrogen in a cryogenic pressure vessel can, depending on the type of vehicle, allow an operating range comparable with that of conventional vehicles powered by combustion engines. Filling up the hydrogen storage tank takes a similar amount of time as refuelling a petrol or diesel tank.

This seems to suggest that in the not too distant future we can expect to see a version of the BMW i3 with a much smaller traction battery plus a hydrogen fuel cell instead of the existing range extender, together with a similarly equipped although presumably more powerful version of the i8!

By way of a hint about what to expect the press release includes pictures such as this:

plus a video:

which according to BMW show:

The demonstration vehicle, based on a BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, [which] reveals a take on this form of propulsion in keeping with the brand’s profile and character. It combines locally emission-free mobility with sporting dynamics, excellent ride comfort and long-distance capability. Its key features are as follows:

  • Electric motor developing 180 kW/245 hp, power electronics and high-voltage battery for interim energy storage; developed as a variant of BMW eDrive technology for BMW i cars and BMW brand plug-in hybrid models.
  • Hydrogen storage in the form of a tunnel tank between the front and rear axle; industry standard 700 bar CGH2 vessel technology and cryogenic pressure vessel technology (CCH2) patented by the BMW Group for storing gaseous hydrogen at low temperature and 350 bar pressure; operating range: over 500 kilometres (more than 300 miles).
  • Fuel cells, housing and ancillary systems: initial results from the collaboration between the BMW Group and the Toyota Motor Corporation on Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) technology.

In the press kit BMW also reveal another vehicle emblazoned with the “Hydrogen Fuel Cell” logo:

According to Autocar the car:

Has been used as a rolling test bed for the German company’s hydrogen fuel cell technology, which is planned to head into large-scale production by 2020, according to the head of BMW’s vast research and development operations, Klaus Fröhlich.

Based around the contemporary new i8, the sleek two-door coupé relies on carbonfibre construction to keep its weight down and also features an aerodynamic package honed at BMW’s wind tunnel in Munich. The BMW research vehicle, which was constructed back in 2012 and remains unnamed, sites its fuel stack at the rear in the position usually taken up by the i8’s compact turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine.

Energy for the fuel stack is provided by cryogenically stowed hydrogen contained in a cylindrical tank mounted down the centre line of the car’s platform and oxygen provided by cooling air. The fuel stack subsequently provides electricity to run a rear-mounted electric motor, with the only emissions being water.

Here’s a video of the vehicle in action:

Evidently all sorts of exciting stuff is already well on the way to production. Now all we need, as so often seems to be the case these days, is the associated infrastructure!

Is Distributed Energy Storage on Ofgem’s Roadmap?

In the first of my reports from the Regen SW “Community Energy Markets” conference in Bristol last Thursday I’ll be highlighting references in several of the presentations to what I like to call “Distributed Energy Storage“, which encompasses a whole lot more than just the battery packs in electric vehicles.

The first person to mention the subject was Jeff Hardy, who is Head of Future Consumers & Sustainability at Ofgem. His presentation was on the topic of “Non-traditional business models: Supporting transformative change in the energy market” which deserves an article all of its own in due course. However whilst discussing “rapid technological innovation” Jeff pointed out that “battery storage is the current flavour of the month”. After that Sonya Bedford, Head of Renewable Energy at Stephens Scown solicitors, also hinted at the subject in her talk about “Local supply models” in which she mentioned “Demand Side Response” and “Local Balancing Units”.

At the conclusion of the morning session Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW and our host for the day, asked if there were any questions from the floor. Nobody else seemed very keen to put their hand up, so I waved my arm in the air and was duly invited to stand up, state my name and affiliation, and then pose the panel a question. In the event I actually asked two. The first was to enquire if anybody else present was interested in international smart grid standards apart from me, since the LBUs that Sonya had mentioned seemed to me to come within the remit of the IEC 62325 standard working group which I am part of. Then I asked the panel whether the battery packs in electric vehicles were anywhere near being “flavour of next month” in the UK as yet.

Nobody responded to my first question, but Merlin framed my second question to the panel in terms of the recent “Powerwall” announcement from Tesla Energy. I was both pleased and somewhat surprised when Jeff pointed out that V2G was indeed on his radar screen, since he is “fascinated by EVs” and the “traditional battery worries have been overcome by technology”. Sonya was then good enough to mention that I had said much the same thing at the AGM of Exeter Community Energy earlier in the week.

After lunch James Owen, commercial director of Public Power Solutions, started off by giving us a history lesson about local electricity generation in the UK.  Then he went on to discuss the benefits of “Local Balancing Units”, “street level storage solutions” and “a true local smart micro-grid” amongst other things, using both Swindon and the Danish island of Bornholm as examples. James freely admitted to having pinched an infographic of Bornholm, so I’ve taken the liberty of pinching one of his! Here is PPS’s template for a future Bristol, or Bornholm, or the Isle of Wight, or anywhere else in Europe for that matter.

See if you can spot the difference between this version and the one on the PPS web site. It seems those recent additions are Tesla Powerpacks, and in my own vision of a future sunny Southwest England the cars under the solar PV canopy at the park and ride would be connected to similar “black boxes” that incorporate V2G functionality.

Having finally got the preface out of the way, I’d like at long last to mention some alternative battery filled “black boxes” from suppliers other than Tesla Energy. For “grid scale” battery storage you can repurpose EV battery packs like Sumitomo, or use batteries designed for the task from the likes of Saft.

Moving down to the domestic scale I note that for some strange reason the solar PV equipped dwelling in a future Bristol/Bornholm lacks a V2x equipped garage similar to the one shown in the V2G banner at the top of this article. Moving indoors Moixa’s Maslow predates the Powerwall by a long way, and is designed to power a DC circuit for LED lighting, computers etc. Quite possibly prompted by Elon Musk‘s recent announcement, Samsung have also launched a domestic version of their modular Energy Storage System (or ESS for short). Stefan Quandt (of BMW fame) has launched the SolarWatt MyReserve, which has already won an award at the recent ees Europe exhibition over in Germany. Varta also launched their Engion Element “storage for beginners” at ees Europe. Here’s how they looked at the show:

and just in case you haven’t yet tasted the flavour of the month, here’s a Tesla Powerwall for your delectation:

As you’ve probably gathered by now I have a lot more to say about all of this and more, including covering Anthony Price of Swanbarton’s talk dedicated to “Local balancing using storage”. However for the moment at least I cannot help but wonder what Ofgem make of all this “rapid technological innovation”, not to mention the potential associated “non-traditional business models” and last but by no means least, international smart grid standards!

Carlos Ghosn Reveals Long Range Nissan LEAF

I visited Bristol yesterday to attend the Regen SW “Community Energy Markets” conference. More from me on the event in due course, but before that I must point out that Bristol is “European Green Capital” for 2015. Here’s a video revealing how Bristol looks from behind the wheel of the current Nissan LEAF:

Earlier this week BBC News revealed how Japan looks from behind the wheel of the current Nissan LEAF:

According to the BBC:

The boss of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, has not been shy about expressing his disdain for hydrogen. Instead, Nissan is betting on lithium ion batteries.

Coincidentally earlier this week Carlos Ghosn spoke at the Nissan annual shareholder’s meeting in Yokohama. Here’s the “Technology” part of his presentation:

All forthcoming products will reflect Nissan’s commitment to delivering breakthroughs that advance vehicle safety, efficiency, and connectivity.

During our discussion later in this meeting, we will update you on Nissan’s plans to introduce an autonomous drive vehicle by 2020. We are continuing to develop this exciting technology.

The vehicle that stands to my left features the latest versions of hardware and software that Nissan is developing.

The vehicle that stands to my right is another advanced technology breakthrough. It explores how far we can extend electric vehicle range by making changes to the battery.

Today there are only two reliable ways to increase electric vehicle range.

  • The first is to have a massive network of EV chargers, so that when you are away from home you have the ability to recharge easily.
  • The other option is to put a larger battery pack into the vehicle so that the driver enjoys greater range. However, with today’s level of technology, adding more battery means adding more cost.

As you know, Nissan has been one of the world’s foremost advocates for the development of recharging networks. With our efforts and the support of government and private sector partners, Japan has one of the most highly developed charging infrastructures in the world.

There are now more than 14,000 EV chargers, not including home chargers, in Japan. This means that EV drives already have the freedom to drive throughout mainland Japan without worrying about battery range.

Unlike customers in some other markets, where the charging networks are in earlier stages, customers in Japan who want to enjoy the benefits of driving a LEAF have no need to wait. Japan’s vast EV charging network already provides an incentive for you to move to Nissan’s zero-emission technology. And, during FY2015, the number of chargers in Japan will increase even further. However, that doesn’t mean we will become complacent and stop working to advance our battery and vehicle technologies.

We believe that, in the near future, Nissan can provide EV drivers with even greater “peace of mind” range, by offering comparative mobility to today’s conventional vehicles.

Nissan is exploring new materials and chemistry solutions in order to make thinner, lighter weight and less costly batteries. We foresee the day when you leave your home with a full charge, and are able to go about your day with no concerns…then return home with ample charge.

This video shows how we envision a routine day.

With this vision in mind, our advanced battery research will continue. But we will not wait for its completion to move forward. Later this year, you will hear more about our initial steps to increase EV range.

All of which puts me in mind of a couple of things a Nissan representative said in response to a question about “warranties” that was posed at the V2G workshop I attended earlier this month. It seems Nissan’s battery electric vehicle “warranty doesn’t prohibit V2G” and the “impact [of V2G] on the battery is insignificant”.

Solar PV Powered Public V2G Charging Launched in Utrecht

Earlier this week I attended a vehicle-to-grid workshop organised by Nissan Europe. This one was held in Utrecht in The Netherlands, where I discovered that the workshop coincided with the announcement of a new partnership between the City of Utrecht and a number of Dutch companies to ultimately deliver 120 “smart charging stations” across Utrecht. There’ll be more from me on the workshop itself in due course, but for now let’s take a close look at the world’s first publicly available solar powered V2G capable AC electric vehicle charging station:

The charging station itself is a GE DuraStation with added bi-directional capability. Sadly my wish of a few weeks ago has not yet come true, and the Tesla model S you can see in the foreground is still only capable of being charged by the DuraStation, which is IEC 61851/62196 mode 3 compliant. However the BYD e6 visible in the background IS able to discharge its batteries back to the local distribution grid.

This particular charger is situated outside the offices of LomboXnet, and hence integrated with the CHAdeMO compliant V2G system we reported on back in March, which stores the excess energy generated by the Solar PV installation at a nearby primary school. Here’s another angle on the event, showing Councillor Lot van Hooijdonk shortly after she cut the ribbon to officially open the charging station:

Another part of my wish from last month has also yet to come true. In Utrecht as in the United Kingdom, and despite the red carpet, whether you own an electric vehicle manufactured by Nissan, BYD or Tesla, and whether it prefers to be charged via CHAdeMO, IEC 62196 or a Supercharger, you still won’t get paid for allowing your battery pack to be used to provide an extremely useful service to the local distribution grid. However, perhaps mighty oaks from little acorns do eventually grow?

Whilst we wait to discover if/when/how that happens, here’s the video that Robin Berg of LomboXnet showed the attendees of the 3rd Nissan V2G workshop:

Renault-Nissan to Provide 200 Electric Vehicles for UN COP21 Paris Climate Conference

The Renault-Nissan Alliance announced today that they will provide a fleet of 200 all-electric vehicles as the official passenger-car provider for the United Nation’s COP21 climate conference in Paris later this year. The fleet of vehicles will include Renault’s ZOE and Kangoo Z.E. and Nissan’s LEAF and e-NV200. Here’s what a small part of it looks like:

According to the Alliance press release:

The partnership agreement was signed today between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and the General Secretary in charge of the preparation and organization of the 21st annual Conference of Parties (better known as COP21). The fully electric car fleet will shuttle delegates during the event from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

More than 20,000 U.N. participants from 195 countries are expected to attend the annual climate summit. It will be the first time the U.N. will use a zero-emission fleet for its entire passenger car shuttle at a COP event.

Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development and President of COP21, said that:

We are delighted to announce that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is an official partner of COP21 in Paris. Thanks to the Alliance’s fleet of 100% electric vehicles, it will contribute to our goal of achieving a carbon neutral event. The technology of electric vehicles helps reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation sector efficiently.

whilst Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said that:

Electric vehicle technology is an efficient solution for a practical and affordable mode of transportation. This solution has a positive impact on the climate and air quality in our cities. It’s time to accelerate the shift to zero-emission mobility by working together with all parties concerned.

At this point in time I cannot help but wonder what Amber Rudd and her new team at DECC will make of being ferried around Paris in 100% electric vehicles later this year? Maybe they’ll be so impressed that they will follow the lead of Paris and:

Set up network[s] of more than 50 quick and standard charging stations powered by 100% renewable energy in strategic locations. The quick charging stations will be able to charge the EVs from 0 to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes.

Tesla Energy Launches the Powerwall

In a much anticipated announcement last week Elon Musk told the world that Tesla Motors now had a sister business entitled “Tesla Energy” which would start delivering a new product called the Powerwall later this year. Here’s a video of Mr. Musk’s presentation:

Note that at around 2 minutes 25 seconds Elon points out that:

We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the Sun. You don’t have to do anything, it just works. It shows up every day and produces ridiculous amounts of power. Now a lot of people aren’t clear on how much surface area is needed to generate enough power to completely get the United States off of fossil fuels….

It’s really not much, and most of that area is going to be on rooftops. You won’t need to disturb land. You won’t need to find new areas. It’s mostly going to be on the roofs of existing homes and buildings.

Now the obvious problem with solar power is that the sun does not shine at night. This problem needs to be solved! we need to store the energy that is generated during the day so that we can use it at night.

I recommend watching the whole show, but if you’re the impatient sort then skip to 11 minutes 40 seconds and listen to this bit:

What about something that scales to much, much larger levels? For that we have something else. We have the Powerpack. The Tesla Powerpack is designed to scale infinitely. You can literally make this into a GWh solution. We already have one utility that wants to do a 250 MWh installation.

According to the Tesla Energy launch press pack:

Tesla is not just an automotive company, it’s an energy innovation company. Tesla Energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero emission power generation.

With Tesla Energy, Tesla is amplifying its efforts to accelerate the move away from fossil fuels to a sustainable energy future with Tesla batteries, enabling homes, business, and utilities to store sustainable and renewable energy to manage power demand, provide backup power and increase grid resilience.

Tesla is already working with utilities and other renewable power partners around the world to deploy storage on the grid to improve resiliency and cleanliness of the grid as a whole.

Here’s a picture of the combination of Tesla’s two businesses:

Tesla Energy reveals a Model S in close proximity to a Powerwall

Tesla Energy reveals a Model S in close proximity to a Powerwall

and here’s their description of the Powerwall:

Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level for load shifting, backup power and self-consumption of solar power generation. Powerwall consists of Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system and software that receives dispatch commands from a solar inverter. The unit mounts seamlessly on a wall and is integrated with the local grid to harness excess power and give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.

The battery can provide a number of different benefits to the customer including:

  • Load shifting – The battery can provide financial savings to its owner by charging during low rate periods when demand for electricity is lower and discharging during more expensive rate periods when electricity demand is higher
  • Increasing self-consumption of solar power generation – The battery can store surplus solar energy not used at the time it is generated and use that energy later when the sun is not shining
  • Back-up power – Assures power in the event of an outage

Powerwall increases the capacity for a household’s solar consumption, while also offering backup functionality during grid outages.

Powerwall is available in 10kWh, optimized for backup applications or 7kWh optimized for daily use applications. Both can be connected with solar or grid and both can provide backup power. The 10kWh Powerwall is optimized to provide backup when the grid goes down, providing power for your home when you need it most. When paired with solar power, the 7kWh Powerwall can be used in daily cycling to extend the environmental and cost benefits of solar into the night when sunlight is unavailable.

Since we are big fans of distributed energy storage here at V2G UK this is all music to our ears, but some things are strangely lacking from Tesla’s publicity.  Apparently:

Tesla’s selling price to installers is $3500 for 10kWh and $3000 for 7kWh. (Price excludes inverter and installation.) Deliveries begin in late Summer.

It looks as though inverters to attach to Powerwalls will be supplied by third parties and the pretty picture above notwithstanding connecting a Tesla Model S to one or more Powerwalls and thence to the local electricity distribution grid is a problem that has yet to be addressed by Tesla themselves.

There have been some associated press releases, such as this one from SolarEdge:

SolarEdge Technologies, Inc., a global leader in PV inverters, power optimizers, and module-level monitoring services, announced its collaboration with Tesla Motors to provide an inverter solution that will allow for grid and photovoltaic integration with Tesla’s home battery solution, the Powerwall.

The joint development by SolarEdge and Tesla builds on SolarEdge’s DC optimized inverter solution and Tesla’s automotive-grade energy storage technology to enable more cost-effective residential solar generation, storage, and consumption for the global market.

Designed to manage both functions with just one SolarEdge DC optimized inverter, the solution will allow for outdoor installation and will include remote monitoring and troubleshooting to keep operations and maintenance costs low. The solution will also support upgrading existing SolarEdge systems with the storage solution.

The SolarEdge solution is expected to be available by the end of 2015.

Once again, however, whilst the phrase “grid integration” is mentioned “vehicle to grid” is not. I cannot help but wonder when (and how) it will become possible for a Model S to earn its proud owner a modest income by feeding some of the energy stored in its battery pack back into the local grid at its times of greatest need.

Utrecht Gets V2G Based Energy Storage

In a ceremony at the Parkschool in the Lombok district of Utrecht on March 4th deputy Remco van Lunteren, officially opened the first Vehicle to Grid (V2G) energy storage system in Europe. The event was recorded for posterity:

The solar energy storage system supplied by Nissan charges electric cars but can also discharge their batteries in order to power houses. It helps to provide a higher return on solar power, reduces peak current on the grid and helps promote electric vehicles.  The opening of the V2G system is a sequel to the opening by Councillor Lot van Hooijdonk of a smart charging station from General Electric in Lombok on December 2nd 2014. The first charging station was unique because it had some built-in intelligence, and the V2G system adds an energy storage capability to it. Together, these are the first building blocks of Lombok’s Smart Solar Charging pilot project.

As the “Storage4all” project page puts it:

To create a truly smart grid using renewable energy, it is necessary to find a solution to the existing time differentials between generation and demand. The storage of energy is one way of achieving that.

Electric cars have a large storage capacity and are a major consumer of  future electric power generation. By making use of the storage facility of electric cars the “Smart Grid” can be made more sustainable.

In order to utilize the battery of an electric car for energy storage, it is necessary for the car batteries to be able to be discharged. In many cases this is not possible and the majority of EVs have internal protection against this. Only the Nissan LEAF currently has this possibility because of the Japanese market demand for storage (to protect against disruptions and power failures caused by earthquakes). The pilot project therefore initiated discussions with Nissan Europe and the provider of such a bi-directional charging system to achieve this in ​​Lombok.

Simulations show that there is much potential for storage of renewable energy in Smart Grids. Economically, it is not yet possible under current market conditions. The pilot project has ensured international recognition for this initiative, the development of the first European bi-directional charging station and a possible big roll out of them in Utrecht in the coming years.

Unfortunately market conditions here in the UK are currently also not economically favourable to this type of initiative.