3,000 new solar-powered homes in Arizona to be equipped with Sonnen batteries

October 19, 2017 by  
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Prescott, Arizona sees around 277 days of sunshine every year. Arizona-based house builder Mandalay Homes plans to take advantage of all that sunlight in 3,000 new homes to be built in the city, all equipped with rooftop solar panels and batteries from German company Sonnen GmbH . The price of the batteries will be included in the sale price of the homes. Mandalay Homes and Sonnen have partnered to allow homeowners to store extra solar power in Sonnen batteries that cost between $10,000 and $20,000 on their own. Sonnen and Mandalay Homes hope they can work out an arrangement so utilities will pay homeowners to use power stored in their batteries. According to Reuters, the 3,000 batteries, offering eight megawatt-hours of electricity , basically create a virtual power plant that could power around 5,000 homes for a day. Related: Wind and solar-powered Thunder Valley Regenerative Community rises in South Dakota Sonnen senior vice president Blake Richetta said even if utilities don’t purchase the energy, homeowners would save money since they won’t have to purchase as much power – if any – from the grid . There’s no firm agreement as of yet, although Mandalay and Sonnen have reportedly been in talks for a few months with Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project . A Salt River Project spokesperson told Reuters there aren’t any agreements in the works; Arizona Public Service declined to comment but did say batteries “can provide benefit to both our customers and the grid.” The Prescott community will be the first one like it in America, according to Sonnen and Mandalay. Reuters said in Germany, Sonnen has many such communities, but the idea is still fairly new in the United States. Mandalay Homes is a certified United States Department of Energy (DOE) ZERO Energy Ready Home builder, according to their website, and have earned multiple awards from the DOE for energy efficiency . There are around 1,000 Sonnen batteries in America right now, although the company hopes to increase that number to at least 20,000 by 2020, and deals such as the one with Mandalay Homes should help. + Mandalay Homes + Sonnen Via Reuters Images via Mandalay Homes Facebook and Sonnen GmbH

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Huge battery in the UK holds the energy equivalent of 500K smartphone batteries

October 16, 2017 by  
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A large new battery storage project could help the United Kingdom’s grid handle power from more renewable sources . The 10 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion battery , on the grounds of a biomass plant in Sheffield, is contained inside four 40-foot shipping containers . It can hold the same amount of energy as around 500,000 smartphone batteries. UK energy company E.ON installed the battery , called the Blackburn Meadows battery for its location at the Blackburn Meadows biomass plant, and connected it to the grid . They said in their statement the battery has the same power as around 100 family cars. Related: Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia The Blackburn Meadows battery is one of the first of what The Guardian described as a fleet of industrial-scale battery plants. National Grid, the firm that owns England and Wales’ electricity transmission network, requested new technologies to help keep the grid balanced, a challenge as more renewable sources come online – since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. The large batteries are a response to that request. When supply is high, the batteries can store power, and when supply drops, they can provide power. National Grid commercial development manager Leon Walker said in a statement, “Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It’s an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced. Over four years we estimate that this service will save the system operator around £200 million.” While the Blackburn Meadows battery is currently one of the largest in Britain, The Guardian pointed out it won’t be long before others even bigger are built. They said British Gas’ parent company Centrica is building a 49MW battery facility, and EDF Energy is also building one that’s the same size. Their article included a graphic saying renewables provided almost 30 percent of the UK’s power between April and June of this year. Via The Guardian and E.ON Images via E.ON and Darren Cool / E.ON

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Huge battery in the UK holds the energy equivalent of 500K smartphone batteries

German company steps in to help Puerto Rico with microgrid installations

October 3, 2017 by  
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As Puerto Rico assesses the full extent of hurricane damage and continues its long, challenging road to recovery, energy companies from around the world, such as Sonnen GmbH of Germany, are stepping in to assist. Sonnen is planning to install energy-storage systems known as microgrids at fifteen or more emergency relief centers in the American island territory. “Our smart energy storage system is uniquely positioned to serve as a critical resource during the emergency in Puerto Rico,” said Blake Richetta, the head of Sonnen’s U.S. unit. Sonnen’s systems were first delivered last week, with more arriving weekly as ports reopen. Pura Energia, a Puerto Rican solar installer, is working in collaboration with Sonnen to deliver the necessary systems and restore local power. The total knockout of Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure, which could remain inoperable for months, has made microgrids (often paired with solar panels to restore power to essential buildings), particularly vital as Puerto Ricans struggle to secure basic needs. As Sonnen installs its microgrids on emergency relief centers, it expects local consumers to seek out their own microgrid systems. Profits from these sales will be donated to build additional microgrids throughout Puerto Rico. Related: Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico Since 2016, Sonnen has installed over 20 storage systems, the most recent of which have been produced at its new factory in Atlanta . The first microgrids on Puerto Rico are expected to begin operation next month. In its support for the American Commonwealth, the company is clear in its broader mission to change the world. “It is our duty to stand firmly with the people of Puerto Rico and do everything possible to help start the rebuilding process,” said Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann. “There is a clear connection between our mission to support humanity during a climate disaster and our mission to fight climate change .” Via Bloomberg Images via Pew Charitable Trusts and Sonnen

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Tesla nears halfway mark with world’s largest battery installation in South Australia

October 2, 2017 by  
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Never one for small talk, Tesla announced that one of its most significant projects, apparently the world’s largest battery installation, is just about halfway finished. The 100MW/129MWh utility-grade battery bank near the site of the 100MW Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia will be the largest system connected to an energy grid. This massive undertaking was inspired by a bet between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who could not believe that Tesla was able to install its grid-tied battery systems as quickly as it claimed. Musk, confident in his company’s work, promised to install the world’s largest battery bank in 100 days or the State of South Australia would receive it for free. The clock is now ticking. After accepting the challenge, Tesla participated in a competitive bidding process to unlock a $115 million renewable energy fund from the State of South Australia , which has suffered disruptive blackouts in recent summer seasons. After estimating that the world’s largest battery bank would cost $32.35 million, excluding labor costs and taxes, Tesla was awarded the contract in partnership with the French company Neoen, which owns the Hornsdale Wind Farm on which the battery bank is being built. Musk made clear that the negotiation phase did not count towards the 100 days deadline. The stakes are high; if Tesla fails to complete its task within 100 days, it could suffer a loss of $50 million or more. Related: Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico Last Friday, Tesla officially announced the start of its 100-day challenge, though it would seem that the company gave itself a bit of a head start. The battery bank, which is being built at the Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada , is nearly halfway complete as is the installation of batteries into the bank. “To have that [construction] done in two months … you can’t remodel your kitchen in that period of time,” said Musk at a kickoff event, seeming to acknowledge the absurdity of the situation. If any company is up to this kind of challenge, one based on a bet between billionaires, it’s Tesla. Via Ars Technica Images via Tesla

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Tesla nears halfway mark with world’s largest battery installation in South Australia

Former Tesla executives to produce battery "with significantly lower carbon footprint"

September 28, 2017 by  
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Tesla is attempting to shake up the car and energy industries with their battery -producing Gigafactory – and two past employees hope to bring the revolution to Europe. Former Tesla executives Peter Carlsson and Paolo Cerruti aim to build Europe’s biggest lithium-ion battery factory with startup Northvolt in Sweden . Carlsson said, “We will produce a battery with significantly lower carbon footprint than the current supply chains.” The $4.5 billion Northvolt factory in Sweden will pump out batteries for electric cars , ships, trucks, and snowmobiles. They’ll source materials like nickel and graphite from Swedish deposits, and cobalt from a Finland refiner. They’ll power the factory with renewable energy from Sweden’s hydropower dams. They’ll reuse waste heat and recycle old batteries. Northvolt just this week announced a “wide-ranging supply and technology partnership” with company ABB . Related: Tesla executives start mysterious new recycling company Northvolt batteries will have an almost zero carbon footprint, according to Carlsson. He said, “Right now the flow of batteries to Europe would mainly come from Asia. If you take the [ coal -powered] energy grids of China or Japan, both of their carbon footprints are pretty high. When you accumulate that into a battery pack for a vehicle, that’s a significant footprint.” Northvolt will be able to differentiate themselves using hydropower. They’ll also create their own anode and cathode chemical mixes rather than purchasing them from Asian or European manufacturers. Is Northvolt making a run for Tesla’s business? According to Wired, Carlsson said he’s not competing with old boss Elon Musk . He said, “Tesla is a very challenging culture, but it’s also a very rewarding culture. There’s one thing that nobody can take away from Elon; he has always put his mission above everyone else. Hopefully we can spread that kind of culture also within Northvolt.” The 32 gigawatt hour plant could begin production in 2020. + Northvolt Via Wired Images via Northvolt

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Former Tesla executives to produce battery "with significantly lower carbon footprint"

Tesla patent reveals plans for a new battery-swapping machine

September 20, 2017 by  
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In the not-so-far future when  electric vehicles (EV) rule the road, don’t expect to sit around in line waiting for your battery to charge. That’s because electric automaker Tesla recently filed a patent for a mobile battery swapping technology that could replace a depleted battery in under 15 minutes. In 2013, the company toyed with the idea of building stationary rigs that can replace a car’s battery pack. However, that idea never took off. Now, the EV maker is improving on the concept and has filed a patent application for a more compact, mobile version that would be placed in strategic locations where Superchargers aren’t always available. As Elektrek reports, Tesla’s original system was designed to be autonomous, while the newer one can be operated by technicians. Additionally, the original battery swap service claimed a 90-second swap, whereas the new one says “less than fifteen minutes” is more plausible. Says the patent application, “In some implementations, the battery swap system is configured for use by one or more technicians, who will monitor certain aspects of the system’s operation and make necessary inputs when appropriate. For example, the battery -swapping system can be installed at a remote location (e.g., along a highway between two cities) and one or more technicians can be stationed at the location for operating the system. This can reduce or eliminate the need for the system to have vision components, which may otherwise be needed to align the battery pack or other components. Using techniques described herein it may be possible to exchange the battery pack of a vehicle in less than fifteen minutes.” As can be seen from the application figures, the patent application references swapping Model S and Model X battery packs. Both vehicles’ battery packs have been designed to be easily swappable. Model 3’s battery pack is not, on the other hand. Because the company aims to expedite the process in 15 minutes or less, it is unlikely the system will apply to more complicated swaps. Related: Tesla to TRIPLE number of Superchargers by end of 2018 When Tesla CEO Elon Musk last mentioned the battery swap system, he said it would likely be developed to support commercial fleets — if pursued at all. Now that plans for Tesla’ all- electric Semi-Truck have been shared, Musk’s vision is coming into focus. + Tesla Via Elektrek Images via Tesla , Pixabay

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Tesla patent reveals plans for a new battery-swapping machine

World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars

September 15, 2017 by  
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Even the construction industry can “go green.” A collection of Swiss companies is proving this to be true by developing the world’s largest electric vehicle and in record time. The E-Dumper weighs a whopping 45 tons and has 700 kWh of storage capacity. That’s as much as eight Tesla Model S vehicles. To ensure it is as environmentally-friendly as possible, the E-Dumper’s base is a used Komatsu HD 605-7 dumper truck. The original diesel engine has been removed and replaced with a chassis for battery packs that will power the new E-Dumper. When we say this vehicle is big, we mean big. Its tires measure over 6.5 feet in diameter, and the driver is required to climb nine stairs to reach the cabin. Its size and strength ensure it can transport materials from a mountain ridge to a valley 20 times per day. This is important, as moving materials from the slopes of the Chasseral to the Ciments Vigier SA cements works near Biel is what the e-dump truck will be doing for the next 10 years. Because the vehicle is electric , there is no need to “heat up” the brakes when descending. This is because the enormous electric engine acts as a generator and recharges the battery pack. That same energy is then used to help the vehicle travel back up the hill. Phys reports, “If all goes as planned, the electric dumper truck will even harvest more electricity while traveling downhill than it needs for the ascent. Instead of consuming fossil fuels , it would then feed surplus electricity into the grid.” The costly venture is being spearheaded by Ciments Vigier SA . Lithium Storage GmbH from Illnau and the Kuhn Group have been hired to “get the ball rolling,” so to speak. The project is also backed by Empa; battery expert Marcel Held is in charge of safety assessments. Related: Chinese company LeEco begins building $3 billion electric car factory The E-Dumper’s battery pack will weigh an incredible 4.5 tons and consist of 1,440 nickel manganese cobalt cells. This is the first time ever a land vehicle has been equipped with such a vast battery pack. “Nickel manganese cobalt cells are also the choice of the German automobile industry when it comes to the next generation of electric cars,” Held said. This is also the first time a vehicle of this performance class has been constructed to ascend and descend slopes of up to 13 percent inclination, all the while charging its battery pack by 40 kWh during a single descent and using electrical currents up to 3,000 amperes while climbing steep terrain. If the E-Dump Truck proves successful, Ciments Vigier SA could potentially power up to eight purely-electric vehicles using long-term. Once this has been accomplished, other companies may start producing large-scale, electric construction vehicles as well. + Ciments Vigier SA Via Phys.org Images via Lithium Storage GmbH ,  SAE International

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World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars

Chinese researchers develop flexible salt-powered batteries

August 14, 2017 by  
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As the world rushes to transition to a new energy economy, researchers are uncovering novel methods to harvest energy from mundane, everyday sources. A research team in China has created a new battery that could be safely used in wearable or implantable devices, thanks to its use of salt-based electrolytes. This breakthrough could drastically improve the quality and safety of battery-dependent medical technology and may even pave the way for sweat-powered devices. In order to be effective, implantable or wearable batteries need to be flexible to allow functional bending on organic surfaces. In prior iterations, these batteries usually included a mix of toxic chemicals that serve as the electrolytes through which electrical charge can flow. This new battery uses non-harmful electrolytes such as sodium sulfate and saline. Because there is less of a concern regarding leakage of these chemicals, the battery’s design does not require extra material to protect humans from exposure and is significantly less bulky. Related: Inexpensive new battery generates power with just a drop of saliva One particularly interesting implication of a salt-based battery is the idea that the batteries could prove effective at harvesting sweat and other salty bodily fluids to power a workout assistant device. The researchers also noted that the batteries have a marked ability to convert dissolved oxygen into hydroxide ions, which could prove useful in medical applications.  “We can implant these fiber-shaped electrodes into the human body to consume essential oxygen, especially for areas that are difficult for injectable drugs to reach,” said researcher Yonggang Wang. “Deoxygenation might even wipe out cancerous cells or pathogenic bacteria since they are very sensitive to changes in living environment pH. Of course, this is hypothetical right now, but we hope to investigate further with biologists and medical scientists.” Via Engadget Images via Deposit Photos , Tim Simpson/Flickr  and Andy Armstrong/Flickr

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Solar-powered Tesla Tiny House hits the road in Australia

August 14, 2017 by  
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Tesla’s taking to the streets to demonstrate their clean technology . A Model X is pulling around a tiny house showcasing a solar power system and Powerwall , giving the curious a way to check out their renewable technology in action. Electrek shared some stunning images of Tesla’s Tiny House , which is serving as a mobile design studio in major Australian cities. The Tesla Tiny House is incredibly eye-catching: clad in sustainable, locally-sourced chemical-free timber , the rolling design studio gives locals an up-close look at Tesla’s renewable wares. The Tiny House measuring 20x7x13 feet is outfitted with a 2 kW photovoltaic system with six panels. There’s also a Tesla Powerwall on the home’s exterior. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Naturally, the Tiny House is entirely powered by renewable energy , and people can step inside to use a configurator to design a solar system with storage for their own homes. A tour with staff provides detailed information; Electrek quoted the company as saying: “The tour is designed to provide a one-on-one educational experience on how to integrate Powerwall and solar to seamlessly power an entire home 24/7, allowing Australian consumers to gain control and understanding of their power use.” According to Electrek, Australia is a key market for Tesla’s products: 1.5 million households in the country have solar for the highest per capita penetration of rooftop solar power in the world. Tesla plans to take their tiny house to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane throughout August, September, and early October. But, the company says on their site that anyone in Australia can request a stop. They “want to bring the Tesla Tiny House to you, so you can fully experience what it means to be self-powered.” + Tesla Tiny House Via Electrek Images via Electrek/Tesla

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Solar-powered Tesla Tiny House hits the road in Australia

Inexpensive new battery generates power with just a drop of saliva

August 10, 2017 by  
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In addition to aiding digestion, it turns out saliva can also power batteries. Researchers at Binghamton University discovered this while inventing a small, paper-based battery that generates energy when mixed with a drop of saliva. The batteries, which are more like tiny microbial fuel cells, are inexpensive to make and could be used in natural disasters and remote settings where on-demand power is hard (if not impossible) to come by. As a result, access to medical care and screenings in rural settings could improve. Binghamton University Electrical and Computer Science Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi spent the past five years developing the micro-power sources. His ultimate goal was to find a way to power medical diagnostic tests in poverty-stricken regions; finally, he succeeded at developing paper-based bacteria -powered batteries “On-demand micro-power generation is required especially for point-of-care diagnostic applications in developing countries,” said Choi. “Typically, those applications require only several tens of microwatt-level power for several minutes, but commercial batteries or other energy harvesting technologies are too expensive and over-qualified. Also, they pose environmental pollution issues.” Related: Indian startup pioneers new battery swapping system for electric buses The batteries contain freeze-dried exoelectrogenic cells which generate power when saliva is added. Astonishingly, with just one drop of spit, the paper batteries can produce enough power for low-power biological sensors in just a matter of minutes. Eureka Alert reports that a benefit of freeze drying the cells is that they can be stored for a long time before use. This means they can be stocked in medical clinics around the world. An additional perk is that the required biological fluid (saliva) can be easily obtained anywhere, anytime. At present, the battery can only produce a few microwatts of power per square centimeter. However, Choi and his research assistant, Maedeh Mohammadifar, are working on boosting the output. In the future, the team hopes to make the paper batteries more robust so they can sustain devices other than LED lights when connected in a series. The paper, “A Papertronic, On-Demand and Disposable Biobattery: Saliva-Activated Electricity Generation from Lyophilized Exoelectrogens Preinoculated on Paper,” was published in Advanced Materials Technologies. + Binghamton University Via Eureka Alert Images via  Binghamton University , Pixabay

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