Quick Microgrid News…Constellation/Bloom Team on Fuel Cells…Stem Scores Another Investor…E.ON Begins Mega Battery…From Pacemaker to Microgrid…And More

Constellation and Bloom Energy plan to develop 40 MW of fuel cell projects for commercial and public sector customers in four states, including at a microgrid in Hartford, Connecticut.

The other fuel cells will be installed in California, New Jersey and New York.

“The City of Hartford benefits from this partnership by creating Connecticut’s first public-private microgrid. It will ensure that essential services in our Parkville neighborhood, including an elementary school, senior center, library branch, gas station and supermarket, remain operational during power outages,” said Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra.”Utilizing fuel cells also provides power in a cost effective manner while increasing Hartford’s use of clean energy sources.”

Constellation will provide equity financing and own a majority equity interest in Bloom Energy Servers at more than 170 sites for customers. In addition to Hartford, customers will include AT&T and Walmart, among others.

The projects require no upfront capital from customers, who will purchase the power generated by the fuel cells under 15-year power purchase agreements.

“Walmart currently has more than 40 installations with Bloom Energy, and through this partnership with Constellation, we are looking forward to expanding our Bloom deployments into new territories,” said David Ozment, senior director of energy at Walmart.

The portfolio of customer projects builds on Exelon’s 2014 equity investment in 21 MW of Bloom Energy Servers and supports the growth of Constellation’s distributed energy business, which has more than 300 MW of assets in operation or under development.

Constellation and Bloom Energy plan to complete the installations in phases by the end of 2016.

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Germany-based RWE Group, one of Europe’s largest electricity and gas companies, is investing $45 million in Stem, a California-based intelligent energy storage company.

Stem sites storage in buildings and then aggregates the output to sell services from the system into wholesale energy markets. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) recently approved rules that make it easier for aggregators to bring together a group of consumers or businesses and then sell their combined energy output into the wholesale electricity market.

“RWE brings more than a decade of successfully integrating high penetrations of renewables, across Western Europe and provides valuable case studies on the evolving grid — and the opportunity for Stem to help reshape energy delivery and consumption,” said John Carrington, CEO of Stem. “Stem is fortunate to count the organization as a partner as we strategically expand our presence globally.”

The second tranche in Stem’s Series C funding round was led by RWE Supply & Trading, the energy trading arm. RWE Supply & Trading will take a seat on Stem’s board of directors to support the company’s evaluation of new markets.

Stem’s Series C round opened earlier this year with a $12 million tranche led by Japan-based Mitsui & Co. Existing investors also contributed to the raise which was oversubscribed by fifty percent. Other investors in Stem include Exelon and Total.

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A group that includes E.ON has started contruction of what they describe as a unique modular hybrid battery, mega in size at 5 MW.

Called M5BAT (Modular Multimegawatt, Multitechnology Medium-Voltage Battery Storage System), the project is being built at RWTH Aachen University.

Given its large size, the battery is expected to significantly advance use of batteries to provide system stability when renewables are incorported into the grid.  The project also is unique for its use of several different battery technologies in combination.

M5BAT is backed by a $7.5 million grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The project’s partners include the E.ON Energy Research Center and the Institute of Power Systems and Power Economics at RWTH Aachen University (IAEW), the energy company E.ON, the battery manufacturer Exide Technologies GmbH with its business unit GNB Industrial Power, and the inverter manufacturer SMA Solar Technology AG.

“As part of its innovation activities, E.ON is investing in a broad spectrum of future technologies for energy storage. Large battery storage systems are particularly interesting thanks to their flexible possibilities for use. The findings expected from M5BAT are of value for the entire energy industry, particularly as a means of support on the path towards low-CO2 power generation,” said Bernhard Reutersberg, chief markets officer on the E.ON Board of Management.

The power storage system will stretch over two floors and the roof, covering total floor space of approx. 500 m².  E.ON is handling building conversion and the E.ON Energy Research Center will coordinate the battery assembly. The manufacturers Exide Technologies and SMA Solar Technology AG are supplying the technical components. The partners expect to complete the system in mid-2016.

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Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and Tigo Energy have partnered to create what they describe as one of the world’s largest residential renewable energy microgrids.

The solar microgrid is at the home of Earl Bakken who founded Medtronic and invented the first battery-powered pacemaker.

The system includes a 176 kW ground-mounted PV system capable of generating 350 MWh per year and Tigo’s smart optimization product

Tigo says that its product lets customers monitor their systems at the module-level, deactivate high voltage with a push of a button, and allow for the design flexibility on systems of any size. Tigo’s innovative technology performs data acquisition via a cloud-connected data logger across new systems and retrofits of all sizes. Tigo-optimized modules work efficiently with battery backup systems, charging from the sun during the day, then discharging during the night.

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Navigant Research sees steady growth ahead over ten years in the global market for natural gas generator sets (gensets) from less than 15 kW to 20 MW.

Used in emergency standby, prime, peaking, or continuous power generation, NG gensets will grow into a $147 billion market from 2015 to 2024, despite a short-term slowdown due to volatility in the oil & gas market, Navigant said.

“The reciprocating engines used in NG gensets are used for many different types of distributed power generation, from small portable purposes to large, multi-megawatt installations,” says Taylor Embury, research analyst with Navigant Research. “NG gensets are also gaining ground in backup and standby application due to their reliable performance.”

NG gensets cannot match the performance or convenience of diesel gensets since diesel has a higher energy content and is easier to transport than NG, Navigant said. But today the line between NG and diesel gensets is becoming blurred with the increasing popularity of dual-fuel gensets. The dual-fuel units offer the performance of diesel while taking advantage of the low price and low emissions of NG.

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Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy has sold 5.6 MW of fuel cell modules to South Korean partner POSCO Energy.

The company is expanding its fuel cell component manufacturing production to South Korea for the Asian market. The Pohang manufacturing building in Pohang, South Korea, which it expects to begin operating in the fall of 2015.

FuelCell Energy expects per-unit cost for its product to drop with increased production.

“A key aspect of our continued cost reductions is reducing the per-unit cost of raw materials and componentry, which is coming from higher production volumes,” said Tony Rauseo, FuelCell Energy chief operating officer.  “Our two organizations are closely coordinating purchasing, and FuelCell Energy is placing combined volume purchase orders to ensure tight purchasing integration to drive down costs, and receiving compensation from POSCO Energy for procurement services rendered.”

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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