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  • Ukrenergo Review 27 April – 3 May

    Holidays or not, Ukrenergo Review is right on time! Last week was a generous one in exciting news of the power industry. 

    In particular, minerals for low carbon technologies will be mined in an environmentally friendly way, while in Switzerland, they created a smart device to produce high volumes of pure hydrogen, and the market for electricity accumulation may exceed $13 billion by 2023. Read more in the next issue of the weekly digest.


    1. The British are creating a “local energy market”

    The British energy company Centrica is testing a new Local Energy Market project with combined use of solar panels, energy storage, blockchain software, combined heat and power generation, and energy efficiency monitoring.

    The project was deemed feasible due to the limited network capacity and large RES generation in the Cornwall county. In order to overcome these obstacles and ensure RES integration into the grid, significant investments are required in modernising the infrastructure. Instead, Centrica has proposed a more flexible approach to address this issue, Current News reports.

    The company is proposing to combine several technologies simultaneously. In addition to solar-plus-storage, the project is using cogeneration units (CHP). CHP plants generate electricity using heat, which is usually expended in conventional generation. CHP systems developed by Centrica Business Solutions can achieve around 90% efficiency and reduce carbon emissions by about 70 tons per year.

    For greater convenience, the company suggests using a specially created platform (software) for electricity purchase and sale transactions.

    Another solution offered by the company to ensure the security of supply is using gas in the winter months, when RES generation is rather low.

    Also, for more energy efficiency, the company uses special monitoring devices. Centrica collects and analyses data on energy saving, frequency of storage devices and frequency of their use. These data are also available to customers through the corresponding app.


    1. Switzerland creates a device for pure hydrogen production with 17% efficiency

    Scientists from the Renewable Energy and Engineering Laboratory of the Polytechnic Institute in Lausanne, Switzerland, have created a smart device capable of generating significant volumes of pure hydrogen. By concentrating the sunlight, the device consumes a smaller amount of rare, expensive materials required in hydrogen production. Combined with the intelligent thermal control, such installation is capable of 17% efficiency. Moreover, this technology takes into account the stochastic dynamics of solar energy.

    According to the design of the device, a thin layer of water passes through a solar cell to cool it down. In this way, the temperature in the system remains relatively low, allowing the solar cell to deliver better performance. At the same time, heated water improves the chemical reaction of catalysts and increases the rate of hydrogen production, reports Science Daily.

    The device is currently being testing outdoors. The research team installed a parabolic mirror 7 m in diameter, which increases the concentration of solar radiation 1000 times and sets the device into action. 

    According to the scientists’ preliminary estimations, their system can work more than 30 000 hours (or almost four years) without any replacement of parts, and up to 20 years, if certain parts are replaced every four years. In sunny weather, the system can generate up to 1 kilogram of hydrogen per day, sufficient to fuel a car with a hydrogen engine, to cover the distance of 100 to 150 km.


    1. Market of battery storage to surpass $13 billion by 2023

    According to the analyst GlobalData, the market for battery storage will increase by 7% worldwide over the next four years, reaching a total value of over $13 billion.

    The main drivers for such a development are lower production costs and the growing pace of development of the energy market, leading to greater demand for lithium-ion batteries.

    The company’s report states that the Asia-Pacific region has become the leader over the past year, accounting for 45% of the global installed capacity. As the region’s countries are actively improving the network infrastructure and changing the market structure to attract foreign investment, it is set to maintain its top position and reach $6 bn by 2023.

    At the same time, the US electricity market is projected to reach $2.96 billion by 2023, accounting for 23% of the global market, according to GlobalData, pointing out that the United States have been the largest market for battery storage systems, both in terms of total installed capacity, and the market value for projects set up until 2018, and only last year ceded the top spot to the Pacific.


    1. Minerals for low carbon tech to be mined in environmentally favourable way

    The World Bank has set up a fund that will promote the sustainable extraction and processing of minerals and metals used in low carbon technologies: wind and solar generation, the manufacture of batteries for e-vehicles and accumulators for electricity storage.

    According to Energy Live News, the new fund with total investment of $50 million will work in four main areas: mitigating climate change, adaptation to climate change; reducing the cost of materials and creating market opportunities that contribute to decarbonising and reducing costs throughout the entire mining and supply chain of minerals needed for smart technologies.

    It is expected that the global demand for strategic minerals such as lithium, graphite and nickel will have a sharp increase by 965%, 383% and 108%, respectively, by 2050.

    The fund will work with developing countries as well as with those with a full-fledged market economy. The fund collaborates, among others, with the German government and Rio Tinto Group, a transnational mining corporation, as well as Anglo American, the finance holding company from South Africa.

    Priority projects to be covered by the fund include initiatives for RES in mining, prevention of deforestation, repurposing of mines, and re-use of minerals.

    Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director and Head of the Energy and Extractives Global Practice in the World Bank, stated: “Developing countries can play a leading role in the energy transition: to extract the vital minerals in a way so as to take into account the interests of communities, ecosystems and the environment.”


    1. Electric vehicles to provide balancing of microgrids and virtual power plants

    The research conducted by the consultancy Navigant, demonstrates that the growth of the number of electric vehicles is creating both challenges and new opportunities for the power grids. On the one hand, they impose additional load on the network. However, on the other hand, electric cars can be useful when applying new business models and their platforms, such as microgrids and virtual power plants.

    Integrating electric vehicles into the grid allows their participation in balancing the network, as they both consume electricity while charging, and supply it back to the network.

    In the study, Navigant’s experts are considering energy-saving potential when using electric vehicles, demonstrating global implementation of the use of electric vehicles for distributed generation of energy for microwave and virtual power plants and defining the implementation of market-based capabilities that have been introduced for implementation.

    The study also recommends that participants in virtual power plants apply artificial intelligence technologies, support market reforms and seek opportunities in the market for distributed energy management systems, Smart Energy reports. At the same time, microgrid stakeholders should focus on the possibility of plugging electric vehicles to stationary batteries. 


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