In this issue of Ukrenergo Review, you can read about new trends in the global RES development, technology policy for Energy Storage in China, the US and the UAE, as well as about the ideas for the development of charging infrastructure for electrics vehicles in Germany.
1.Generation of “green” electricity in the EU reached 32.3% in 2018
In 2018, the share of RES in electricity generation in the European Union increased once again and reached 32.3%. This means an increase by more than two percentage points compared to the previous year. This is stated in the report “The European Power Sector in 2018”.
New wind farms, solar power plants and biomass installations drove coal back in the generation structure, especially in Germany, the UK and France. At the same time, the use of hydropower returned to its standard level, which allowed reducing electricity generation based on natural gas. In the end, the share of coal generation in the EU fell by 6% in 2018, while compared with 2012, it decreased by 30%.
Dynamics of the electricity generation structure in Europe
“The European Union proves that replacing coal generation with renewables is the most effective means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In just six years, the annual CO2 emissions produced by European coal power plants fell by 250 million tonnes without increasing emissions from gas power plants,” said D. Jones, the study author and analyst at Sandbag.
2.The US and China set the main trends in the development of charging infrastructure
The charging infrastructure becomes an integral part of the energy market due to such trends as electrification in most sectors of the economy, the expansion of mobility services and autonomy of vehicles. The main trends are set by China and the United States, where two different approaches to the formation of a national charging infrastructure system are rapidly emerging. This is reported in the research conducted by Centre on Global Energy Policy of the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (New York).
The US does not have a federal charging infrastructure support policy; there are only support programmes in individual states. However, business serves as a powerful driver that skilfully uses the opportunities of American legislation and the public demand for electric vehicles.
China developed a clear state policy of support through establishing short-, medium- and long-term goals for the development of charging infrastructure, financial support and synergy with other public policies, in particular electrification of transport, as well as the establishment of common standards and requirements. Regional and local authorities in China are also required to provide support and development at the administrative, licencing and financial levels.
Technologically, both the US and China use chargers to replenish the life of permanently installed storage batteries. Replacement of batteries and contactless charging are almost not used. In the US, there are three fast-charging standards, namely CHAdeMO, SAE Combo and Tesla, while China introduced the single standard called China GB/T.
In China, charging infrastructure is mostly built up by service companies, in particular, those providing utility services. Thus, they are responsible for building a network along main roads. Instead, the most active in the US market are automobile manufacturers, which establish the infrastructure linked to gas stations, recreation and entertainment.
3.“Green” hydrogen from solar power in the UAE
The first in the Middle East, the project for the generation of “green” hydrogen was launched in Dubai (UAE). This is reported by WorldConstructionNetwork.
Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) started the construction of a plant for the production of hydrogen with the support of the German company Siemens and the organisers of Dubai Expo 2020. The company will be located at open test sites at the Centre for Research and Development of the giant solar park Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and use solar electricity to produce hydrogen by electrolysis.
The solar park is a complex of power plants with the total capacity of 5 GW. One of its first facilities will sell solar power at the price of 2.4 cent per kWh. This is a very low wholesale price for “green” electricity, which creates attractive conditions for the production of electrolytic hydrogen.
“The hydrogen produced at the facility will be stored and deployed for re-electrification, transportation and other uses,” said DEWA managing director and CEO Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer.
4.The world’s largest storage device of 108 MW/648 MWh commissioned in the UAE
The UAE Ministry of Energy and Industry announced the launch of a sodium-sulphur battery installation of 108 MW/648 MWh, five times of the capacity of the battery Hornsdale, set by Tesla in Australia a year ago. This is reported by Cleantechnica.
The Tesla installation used lithium-ion batteries, while Abu Dhabi applied sodium-sulphur batteries of the Japanese NGK.
By 2030, the country plans to invest USD 160 billion in the development of RES, so that by 2050, more than 60% of electricity could be generated by alternative sources. The UAE has already built one of the world’s largest solar power plants and, along with the implementation of new similar projects, the need for storage systems is growing, which will allow ensuring stable supply of stochastic RES.
Lithium-ion batteries are capable of accumulating significant volumes of energy, but require cooling to maintain the desired operating temperature. The storage systems used in the UAE have no such disadvantages. Now, the storage installation is capable of providing around six hours of backup power to the whole Abu Dhabi.
According to Science Direct, their efficiency is about 85% and they have a response time of one millisecond. Other advantages are that they do not use lithium or cobalt – two elements that are high in value and rare. Instead, they use sodium and sulphur, both of which are inexpensive and widespread in nature.
Sodium-sulphur batteries provide high energy density, high efficiency when charging/discharging (89-92%), large number of cycles (4500) of charging/discharging and are produced from inexpensive materials. In addition, due to high operating temperatures from 300 to 350 °C and high corrosivity of sodium polysulphides, such batteries are generally suitable for the development of powerful stationary systems such as energy storage for power networks.
Quartz reports that the battery for Abu Dhabi combines 10 separate battery systems connected together and controlled as one, which, under the conditions of the development of distributed generation, essentially becomes a virtual power plant.
5.Germany looks for ways to unite prosumers and charging stations for electric cars
According to the research conducted by the German TU Braunschweig, a combination of energy accumulation and storage systems, small solar power plants and electric cars creates a win-win solution that makes the energy transition much cheaper and easier thanks to the reduction in the needs for the expansion of low voltage distribution networks. This was reported by Solarserver.
Until recently, 1.7 million household photovoltaic installations were considered in Germany as a challenge for TSOs due to increased load on the distribution network. The approach proposed by the researchers will allow using them as part of the solution to the network integration of electric mobility.
The research examined the possibility of balancing electricity supply in distribution networks for rural and suburban areas. According to researchers, the combination of solar power installations of private households with the energy accumulation and storage systems will ensure sufficient efficiency of 11 kW charging stations for electric cars and reduce the load on the distribution system by 60%.
To make this combination work, Germany has to amend the legislation on the taxation of so-called “prosumers” (consumers with their own rooftop panels, etc.), using a system of accumulation and storage of electricity, and review the practice of collecting duplicate fees. An appropriate dialogue has already started at the level of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, but the national level needs further attention.
German experts calculated that distributed generation would be an effective tool for voltage stabilisation in distribution networks, provided that about 60% of households with solar power installations will be equipped with charging devices for electric vehicles. Their influence is that inverters serve as the sources of reactive power and have a stabilising effect on the network in the process of charging electric vehicles.