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Batteries are ancient, by today’s tech standards.  Benjamin Franklin is the first person we know of to use the term, and the first published science on the topic dates to 1791.  The days of metal disks stacked in brine are long gone (except in middle school science class).  Lead-acid batteries in cars and golf carts are still common and will be for years, given their low cost.  But the focus here is on the next generation of large-scale systems.  And the question is how these batteries – bigger and more powerful than anything we’ve known  can redefine and remake the world’s electrical grid. 

You’ve likely heard the expression “lightning in a bottle”.  Storing electricity at industrial scale is very much like that.  Electricity moves fast.  In copper wire or other conductors, it’s traveling at somewhere between 50% and 99% of the speed of light.  And in grid operations, it has to be sold – that is, used – as soon as it’s produced.  If it isn’t, grid and utility engineers run the risk of power plants disconnecting, since they’re only designed to run in a very narrow range of conditions.  What this next generation of battery tech provides is a way to store that electricity and in doing so provide a whole basket of benefits – financial, technical and environmental.   

Arguably the biggest single benefit battery storage provides is the ability to capture electricity from renewable sources.  Obviously, the wind doesn’t always blow.  And even when it does, that’s an issue in itself.  In February 2017, the Danes powered their entire country for 24 hours on windpower.  But if a wind farm produces more power than needed, the system operator must start shutting down turbines or face overloading the grid.  And while the sun defines “predictable”, solar plants only provide power for so many hours per day.  Large-scale storage means that intermittent, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly electricity can be stored now and used later.    

Having large amounts of electricity in storage and ready to go at a moment’s notice is a financial boost for power companies.  It means that utilities can sell back low-cost power from renewables to meet peak demand; when power sells for far more than it cost to generate.  It also means that utilities can meet their own demand spikes without having to pay the often-bruising high prices electricity markets produce at peak demand. 

There’s more.  Energy storage can improve the system’s operating reserve.  Like energy, the grid is always moving – more demand here, less demand there, big storms and equipment failures now and again.  It’s a dance that never stops.  Engineers and analysts meet these constant changes with machines and data to keep the system balanced.  But they are never 100% correct in predicting what will happen on any given day.  Having stored reserve power that can be deployed in seconds boosts the operating reserve, and in doing so, boosts grid stability.  Improving stability can mean lower infrastructure investment costs.  It can also cut the costs of “black starts” when generators go down.  Typically, they have to be restarted with diesel generators, but battery systems for just this purpose have already been successfully tested. 

So, what do utility-scale batteries look like?  Imagine shipping containers lined up in an electrical substation, or row after row of gigantic desktop computer towers.  The Hornsdale Power Reserve, in South Australia, was designed and built by Tesla.  It uses lithium-ion batteries (like in your computer) and provides 129 MWh of power – enough to supply all the electricity for about 3,500 homes for an hour.  These projects sound large, though total deployments to date are tiny – globally about 6 GWh through 2018.  But there’s one simple fact that you need to remember.  In 2010, commercial battery packs cost about $1,100 per kilowatt-hour.  By December 2019, that price had fallen to $156 per kilowatt-hour, a drop of 87% – and nearly 50% of that total decline came in the preceding three years.  With costs set to break the $100 mark by as early as 2024, batteries are increasingly likely to be included in energy infrastructure and development for years to come. 

Considering converting your fleet to compressed natural gas?  Join this complimentary webinar, sponsored by Quantum Fuel Systems, to learn more about the environmental and economic benefits of natural gas trucks.

When:  April 4th at 12:00 P.M. CST

What:  Webinar for fleet operators who are considering converting their fleets to natural gas.  This complimentary webinar will allow our fleet managers to explore the many environmental and economic benefits of low-emission natural gas engines.

 

Click here for Webinar details.

Events

Join us for a FREE workshop to learn more about biodiesel and how it works in today’s diesel engines.

Changes in vehicles and fuels require changes in service

Vehicles, equipment and fuels have changed significantly in recent years. Alternative fuels are becoming increasingly more available in the marketplace. National, state and organizational goals to reduce vehicle emissions and increase use of domestic and renewable fuels have resulted in new pollution control equipment, reduced sulfur levels in fuel, and increased use of biodiesel. Mechanics and technicians in the vehicle and equipment industries need the most current information on fuel and vehicle changes and to better understand how biodiesel operates in today’s vehicles and equipment.

The goal of this workshop is to educate diesel mechanics, automotive technicians and other automotive industry professionals with the most up-to-date knowledge on biodiesel, allowing them to accurately diagnose fuel-related issues, answer customer questions about fuel, and provide recommendations about proper fuel handling and use best practices.

This workshop is targeted at fleet mechanics, diesel technicians, diesel technology students and others who work on diesel engines. Participants should have basic diesel engine experience.

After completing a workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Describe and compare the characteristics of petroleum diesel and biodiesel
    • Explain how the fuels work together to power vehicles and equipment
    • Match biodiesel blends with compatible vehicles and equipment
    • Accurately identify fuel-related issues
    • Provide recommendations for preventing fuel-related issues through best management practices

MEG Corp is an ASE-accredited Continuing Automotive Service Education (CASE) provider. ASE Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be offered for those that meet the requirements for this training. Please indicate when registering if you are interested in ASE CEU credits. Requirements for CEUs are as follows:

    • Take a pretest before the workshop
    • Take a posttest after the workshop
    • Complete a workshop evaluation
    • Complete a survey provided 30 days after the workshop

Participants receiving 80% or higher on the posttest receive a certificate of completion with corresponding CEUs. Participants receiving lower than 80% receive a certificate of attendance.

The workshop will be presented by Hoon Ge of MEG Corp.

In order to provide adequate opportunity for attendees to ask questions, workshop size will be limited. Register today to reserve your spot!

 

 

Hoon Ge, president and founder of MEG Corp, is a chemical engineer with more than 35 years experience in the fuel industry including refining, additive formulation and alternative fuels. MEG Corp conducts educational seminars for students, farmers, mechanics, fleets and the fuel industry throughout the Midwest to provide the latest information on renewable and petroleum fuels.

 

MEG Corp is an industry leader in fuel consulting and testing services, providing technical support to fuel industries and end users. MEG Corp staff have more than 90 years combined experience in traditional and alternative fuels. MEG Corp has been providing diesel/biodiesel and gasoline/ethanol training throughout the Midwest since 2008 and conducts more than 100 events per year to educate current and future transportation industry professionals.

 

This workshop is being offered for free thanks in part to funding from the Kansas Soybean Commission.

The Kansas Biodiesel Consortium will hold its annual workshop on Wednesday, January 6th, 9:00 am – 11:30 am. This year the event will be virtual. Join us from wherever you are to learn about the Sustainability of the Biodiesel Industry. We’ll look at how biodiesel is both financially and environmentally sustainable. Good for the planet and good for your wallet! All speaker sessions will be followed by an open Q&A with attendees. We’ll finish out the morning with a roundtable discussion about the biodiesel industry. Hear from producers, users and retailers about the benefits of biodiesel. The event is free, but you must register to receive the link. Click the registration button below to join us virtually on January 6th.

Workshop Topics

  • Jim & Andy Barta from Hutchinson Salt will speak about using biodiesel in their mining equipment
  • Jill Johnston with Cargill Biodiesel will discuss the co-products of biodiesel production which improve financial & environmental sustainability
  • Colin Huwyler from Optimus Technologies will share about the fleet experience from B100 biodiesel users
  • Ted Augustine from 24/7 Travel Stores will give his perspective as a fuel retailer offering a biodiesel blend
  • Roundtable Discussion: What does the biodiesel industry need to be environmentally & economically sustainable?

Miss this event?

Click to view the Event Recording.

 

 

MEC welcomes the students and instructors of the ECOS Outdoor Nature Club to Project Living Proof.

MEC welcomes the students and instructors of the ECOS Outdoor Nature Club to Project Living Proof.

MEC welcomes the students and instructors of the ECOS Outdoor Nature Club to Project Living Proof. Weekly through May 2019.

MEC welcomes the students and instructors of the ECOS Outdoor Nature Club to Project Living Proof. Weekly through May 2019.