Germany's Solar revolution threatens fossil fuel based generation

Daily Kos | October 5, 2014 | Post by HoundDog

In Fossil Fuel Generator Industry Will Be Hit Hardest By Energy Storage, Giles Parkinson, of CleanTechnica describes a new report from the investment bank HSBC that predicts "conventional energy generators will be the biggest losers from the upcoming energy storage boom, as both consumers and grid operators look to battery and other storage technologies."

attribution: Eurostate, E. ON. Federal Network News Agency, Germany, Bundesnetzagentur.d

Already under pressure from the rapidly declining prices of rooftop solar collectors and large-scale solar and wind generation, the declining prices of battery storage portends greater challenges ahead for traditional fossil fuel based electrical generators.

A major new analysis from global investment bank HSBC – Energy Storage, Power to the People – says the boom days for the fossil fuel generation are over. “There is no prospect of any return to anywhere near the level of profitability seen in the latter part of the last decade in generation,” it writes. [...]  Its major conclusion is that affordable battery storage will increase distributed generation – solar panels on household and business rooftops – and further reduce demand from the grid.

On top of that, grid operators are also likely to use large-scale battery storage to balance demand and supply and for smart grid enhancements. That’s more bad news for conventional power generators. Once again, it says, the revolution will be led by Germany, notwithstanding the major initiatives in California and China.

“The German energy transition encourages the retail customer to become a ‘pro-sumer’,” the HSBC analysis notes. And it says that domestic storage of solar-generated power is set to take off. ... We believe that in markets such as Germany, households who are in ideological agreement with the drive towards renewables, who wish to be more in control of their own power supply and consumption (ie less of a “consumer” and more of a “pro-sumer”), and who are aware that the financial commitment is long at 20 years, will be prepared to embrace the battery storage principle.”

The graphs shows combined solar storage and battery systems reaching grid-partity in Germany, in late 2015–what the author calls "storage parity"–enabling consumers to become independent of the grid day or night.

As if this is not sufficiently challenging to traditional producers already, Jim Algar of Tech Times tells us how researchers at Ohio State University have combined a solar collector and battery into a single device, improving efficiency and reducing cost, in World's first solar battery promises to reduce cost by 'breathing':

"The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy," lead inventor Yiying Wu, a professor of biochemistry and chemistry, says. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost."

The mesh in the OSU battery belongs to a class of devices known as dye-sensitized solar cells, where colored dyes are used to tune the wavelength of light a cell captures.

Light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons that, inside the device, are involved in chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into oxygen and lithium ions. The oxygen is released while the lithium ions are stored within the battery.

When the battery is discharging, it consumes oxygen from the air to re-form the lithium peroxide.

"Basically, it's a breathing battery," Wu says. "It breathes in air when it discharges, and breathes out when it charges."

"Breathing combination solar collector - storage systems?" We might have the premise for a Sci-Fi movie here:

"It's Alive ... with energy!"
"The Solar Collectors that Ate New Jersey! -- Auggh!"

Seriously though, if these trends continue, combined solar-storage systems may very well "eat up" utilities' fossil fuel generated electricity profits. You have to admit, this is a tasty article.

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commented 2014-10-06 23:12:17 -0400 · Flag
Very exciting developments and Germany is on track to reach parity with fossil fuels NEXT YEAR!
@PAUSEnergy tweeted this page. 2014-10-06 21:40:41 -0400
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy posted about Germany's Solar revolution threatens fossil fuel based generation on PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy's Facebook page 2014-10-06 21:40:40 -0400
Germany's Solar revolution threatens fossil fuel based generation
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.