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    1. First Utility-Scale Microgrid in U.S. Enters Service

      First Utility-Scale Microgrid in U.S. Enters Service

      Photos taken during the 2012 Hurricane Sandy disaster almost literally turned the spotlight onto microgrids. Images posted on social media and in the news during the storm showed swaths of Manhattan plunged into darkness as power outages cut off electricity to large parts of America’s biggest city. Just as striking, however, were blossoms of light visible against the otherwise black skyline.

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      Mentions: DoE U.S. IL
    2. New Method for Layering 2-D Materials Offers Breakthrough in Energy Storage

      New Method for Layering 2-D Materials Offers Breakthrough in Energy Storage

      Now researchers at Drexel University have multiplied the number of potential silicon replacements by demonstrating that they can combine two transition metals—in this case molybdenum and titanium—using carbon atoms as the glue bonding the two together. With the method they have developed for combining the two-dimensional (2-D) versions of these materials, the researchers are testing various combinations to see what combinations might be applicable to energy storage, electronics, or wear-resistant materials.

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      Mentions: IEEE
    3. Wind Turbines Power Liquid-Air Energy Storage

      Wind Turbines Power Liquid-Air Energy Storage

      One startup energy company is looking to reinvent not only wind energy, but also energy storage. Keuka Energy recently launched a 125-kilowatt prototype vessel that uses its novel floating wind turbine design paired with liquid-air energy storage to create a steady source of electricity. Unlike traditional wind turbines, which have three blades and a central gearbox, Keuka’s turbine is a pinwheel of aluminum blades that sits atop a floating V-shape platform containing liquid air.

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      Mentions: GE FL UK
    4. Flywheels Get Their Spin Back With Beacon Power's Rebound

      Flywheels Get Their Spin Back With Beacon Power's Rebound

      Flywheel-based energy storage got a black eye with the 2011 bankruptcy filing of Beacon Power Corp., a leading energy storage company, based in Massachusetts, whose technology upgrades pushed flywheels to grid-scale applications. But that blemish proved ephemeral. New investors pulled Beacon Power out of bankruptcy, and last July the firm started a second commercial facility, in Hazle, Pa., to provide power-grid-regulation services. Beacon is attacking new markets that would take the technology in a new direction, followed closely by new grid-scale flywheel competitors.

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      Mentions: MA Beacon Power
    5. How Much Energy Storage Do You Need to Back Up the London Array?

      How Much Energy Storage Do You Need to Back Up the London Array?

      Storing electricity underwater in the form of compressed air is a tantalizing notion that could, if it works, help solve the intermittency problem of wind, solar, and other renewable sources. That “if” is a big one, though, because there are many details engineers have yet to nail down for underwater compressed-air energy storage (UW-CAES). 

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      Mentions: Ontario Hydrostor
    6. Hydrostor Wants to Stash Energy in Underwater Bags

      Hydrostor Wants to Stash Energy in Underwater Bags

      With the worldwide proliferation of wind- and solar-generated power, the fickleness of these renewable sources is a problem crying out for a good solution. A Canadian start-up called Hydrostor thinks it has an answer: air-filled bags. In August, the Toronto company plans to sink several large balloonlike bags into Lake Ontario, and then, using electricity from Toronto Hydro’s grid to run a compressor, it will fill the bags with air. Later, when the utility needs electricity, the air will be emptied from the bags and run through a turboexpander, which uses the expanding air to drive a turbine.

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    7. Time to Swap Power Plants for Giant Batteries? Almost

      Time to Swap Power Plants for Giant Batteries? Almost

      High costs have limited the use batteries in the electricity grid, but emerging technologies will make batteries a more compelling way to supply power during hours of peak demand. And they'll do it soon, say battery firm executives. Utilities and energy project developers are now considering batteries as alternatives to traditional grid infrastructure, such as substation upgrades and natural gas-fired “peaker” power plants that only run a few days a year, according to industry executives who spoke at the Utility of the Future conference in Washington D.C. last week. Once the price of energy storage goes below US $300 per kilowatt-hour, batteries could transform how power is delivered, they said.

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      Mentions: CA HI GE
    8. The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

      The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

      At first glance, downtown Fort Collins, Colorado, looks like a sweet anachronism. Beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings beckon from leafy streets. A restored trolley car ding-dings its way along Mountain Avenue. It’s safe and spotless, vibrant and unrushed. And yet this quaint district is ground zero for one of the most ambitious energy agendas of any municipality in the United States. 

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      Mentions: U.S. Belgium Germany
    9. Iron-Chromium Flow Battery Aims to Replace Gas Plants

      Iron-Chromium Flow Battery Aims to Replace Gas Plants

      The four round structures pictured above may look like grain silos but they're actually giant flow batteries. They're part of a demonstration plant going online this week, and proponents say it could represent the future of long-duration energy storage on the electric grid. Startup EnerVault will unveil tomorrow what it says is the largest iron-chromium flow battery ever made. Installed in Turlock, Calif., the four-hour, 250-kilowatt battery will be charged by a solar array and power an irrigation system. The project was funded by about US $5 million from Department of Energy through the stimulus program and the California Energy Commission.

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      Mentions: CA DoE CA Energy Comm
    10. Supercapacitor-Enhanced Hybrid Storage to Earn Cash for Subways

      Supercapacitor-Enhanced Hybrid Storage to Earn Cash for Subways

      A moving train represents a significant amount of energy, which is often lost as carriages slow to stop at a station. Trains in the Philadelphia subway are not only capturing that energy in banks of batteries but also selling it to the local grid operator. This fall, it’ll be capturing even more energy—maybe earning more money from grid operators—because it plans to upgrade the system with a hybrid of both lithium ion batteries and supercapacitors.

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      Mentions: PA U.S. ABB
    11. Terrafore Looks to Cut Molten Salt Energy Storage Costs in Half

      Terrafore Looks to Cut Molten Salt Energy Storage Costs in Half

      As we have seen in recent months, energy storage is becoming a pretty big deal. California has the country's first energy storage mandate in place, and plants like Solana in Arizona have started trying to incorporate storage in from the beginning. Solana uses molten salt energy storage, a common idea wherein salts are heated, retain that energy for relatively long periods of time, and then discharge it by heating steam to turn a turbine. Solana, a concentrating solar thermal plant, can keep running for six hours after the sun drops below the horizon.

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    12. Hybrid Generator Would Cut Military Base Fuel Costs in Half

      Hybrid Generator Would Cut Military Base Fuel Costs in Half

      The phrase "An army marches on its stomach," often attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, underscores the importance of logistics in the military. And in the 21st century, keeping up the supply of diesel fuel is one of the most challenging logistical tasks for military forces in the field.  Last month, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) awarded a contract to a company that says its “hybrid generator” can reduce the amount of fuel used by generators at outposts by more than 50 percent. The company, Earl Energy, uses a rack of batteries coupled to diesel generators—and, if available, solar panels—to optimize fuel consumption. It’s one of a number of projects funded by the Department of Defense to reduce fuel consumption through efficiency and renewable energy.

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      Mentions: Harvard U.S. TX
    13. What California's Energy Storage Requirement Really Means

      What California's Energy Storage Requirement Really Means

      A few weeks ago California passed the United States' first energy storage mandate. Issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the mandate commits all investor-owned utilities in the state to collectively buy what the mandate refers to as “1325 megawatts of energy storage” by 2020.  But as many Spectrum readers pointed out in the comments section of a recent Energywise post, energy storage is usually measured in units of energy, like joules or megawatt-hours, not units of power like megawatts. So what does it mean to ask utilities to prepare 1325 megawatts of energy storage?

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      Mentions: CA U.S. EPRI
    14. Energy Storage Front and Center at ARPA-E Summit

      Energy Storage Front and Center at ARPA-E Summit

      The Technology Showcase at the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy Innovation Summit is dotted with projects from companies, national labs, and universities that aim to change how we produce and use energy ... what's clear from wandering the floor is how many of them are related to energy storage. A few examples of innovative energy storage projects that ARPA-E is helping get off the ground:

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      Mentions: Beacon Power arpa-e
    15. Germany Meets Half Its Energy Demand From Solar ... for a few hours (storage mentioned briefly)

      Germany Meets Half Its Energy Demand From Solar ... for a few hours (storage mentioned briefly)

      These isolated milestones of renewable generation do raise the specter of storage, however. Without good options for storing excess power, any extra supply is essentially lost ... work is continuing on ideas like vehicle-to-grid (V2G) storage, where a fleet of electric cars could act as batteries for renewable energy.

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      Mentions: Europe Germany Spain
    16. Scientific American Ranks Energy Storage Technologies

      Scientific American Ranks Energy Storage Technologies

      The March issue of Scientific American, available online and on newsstands, contains a very useful article describing and assessing five energy storage technologies . The magazine assembled a panel of experts and had them rank the five in terms of scalability, cost effectiveness, and energy efficiency.

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      Mentions: Japan U.S. Italy
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