funded projects start to prove their cost-benefit ratios to utility regulators

When the power went out a few years ago, she said, she had no battery-powered capabilities and spent the duration of the outage sitting in the dark with a candle. In a more recent outage, she had a solar-panel-powered, battery-charged lamp, and batteries in her computer and phone with charge remaining. “I pretty much just continued on as usual until the electricity came back on,” Margonelli said.

Because ultracaps are more efficient at higher voltages, that translates to a 25-percent to 40-percent improvement, he said — at little or no extra cost. EnerG2 is targeting partners in the automotive energy storage space for this application, he said, a list that could include ultracap makers like Maxwell Technologies and others.

Likewise, EnerG2’s material, added to the “lead paste” that goes into lead-acid batteries, increases their cycle life at a “tiny cost, compared to the improvement in performance it delivers,” Wheaton said. Short cycle life has been the Achilles heel of lead-acid batteries in such applications as grid storage and stop-start hybrid vehicle energy storage, with many startups trying — and some failing — to improve on the age-old chemistry.

The Wildlife Conservation Network works to protect endangered species and preserve their natural habitats. The organization supports innovative strategies for people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive. The WCN has a solar project, and it needs donations of solar equipment.

Dedicated conservationists all over the globe are studying species in decline and trying to learn enough to save them. They live and work in extreme environments and they need electricity to run their camps, power their communications and just to keep their modest facilities in good repair.

Hanwa Solar bought a controlling interest in China’s SolarFun in 2010. HelioVolt received a white-knight investment from Korea’s SK Innovation for its CIGS technology in September of last year. Stion, also a CIGS vendor, received a major investment from Korean equity firms as it established a Korean subsidiary. Samsung Fine Chemicals recently entered a joint venture with U.S.-based PV wafer maker MEMC to manufacture polysilicon.

A new report from KEMA looked at the growth in U.S. energy storage in the coming five years. It concluded the domestic market is likely to quadruple and to offer significant opportunities in electrochemical, mechanical and thermal methods of storing energy over a wide range of applications.

The KEMA study, conducted on behalf of the Copper Development Association to define the impact U.S. growth in storage technologies will have on copper, used two scenarios, one in which there is no tax credit incentive to drive the energy storage sector and another in which the tax incentives proposed in last year’s U.S. Storage Act (S.1845) become available.

The Southern California Edison (SCE) Tehachapi Wind Energy Storage project, to be carried out in partnership with A123 Systems, will test the capabilities of an 8-megawatt, 32-megawatt-hour lithium-ion battery at SCE’s Monolith substation in the wind-rich Tehachapi Mountains, according to Mark Irwin, a director in SCE’s advanced technology department.

To fund the $53.5 million test, DOE will supply nearly $25 million and other partners, including the California Public Utilities Commission and A123 Systems, will supply over $29.9 million. After the panel discussion, Margonelli told a story about two recent blackouts.

GTM Research predicts the U.S. market for distribution automation — the sensors, controls, and centralized or distributed intelligence needed to manage distribution grids — will grow to $3 billion by 2015, as stimulus-funded projects start to prove their cost-benefit ratios to utility regulators.

GTM Research smart grid analyst Ben Kellison has also laid out how the DA sector is ripe for consolidation, with the “Four Horseman” of the grid — Siemens, Schneider Electric, ABB and General Electric — spending billions of dollars on acquiring startups and long-established companies that help them fill out the gaps in their distribution grid offerings.

At nearly every electric vehicle or smart grid conference, someone in the audience asks the question about just how clean electric vehicles are given that they are probably fueled by coal power plants.

There is a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is that if you are just asking about CO2, the electric vehicle, even from the dirtiest of U.S. coal plants, is still cleaner than a traditional internal-combustion vehicle.

The kind of tensions now being worked through were undoubtedly present in trade partnerships between China and other countries, Tse pointed out. “But we never did see that emerge into the open.” His implication seemed to be that legal action is the way it is done in the U.S., whereas a private resolution between involved parties is the Chinese way. But, he said, “it is in the best interests of everyone to resolve this.”

At the same time, EnerG2 is looking at partners for grid-scale energy storage, enabled by its life-extending lead-acid battery tech. Of course, grid-scale energy storage remains a market constrained by the fundamental cheapness of its alternative: power generated with cheap natural gas.

SunPower has created an educational and advocacy organization to organize and fund worthy projects, called The SunPower Foundation. One of its partnerships is with One Million Lights, which aims to replace dangerous kerosene lamps with solid-state lighting, presumably charged with solar power. D.light design (see below) is working on this crusade, as well.

D.light and Fenix International are for-profit energy and lighting firms with more than just the fiscal bottom line in mind. The firm also just kicked off a campaign to raise donations to provide power systems to relief agencies in Japan.

Without a tax incentive driving growth, KEMA foresaw the addition of a total of 630 megawatts of new storage capacity. Thermal storage will grow by 222 megawatts, but battery storage will leap forward, with lithium-ion technology leading (255 megawatts) and lead acid following (72 megawatts). Flywheel technology is expected to grow by 77 megawatts in the next five years, according to KEMA.

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