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Page added on June 24, 2015

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Japan Building Giant Battery Systems to Store Solar Power

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Japanese companies are building some of the world’s biggest battery systems to address one of solar power’s biggest problems–its volatility.

Handling the surges in power when the sun shines and storing that energy for use when it is cloudy or dark is a major headache for solar power producers and the utilities they supply.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp.6503.TO +0.79% and NGK Insulators Ltd.5333.TO +1.68% are assembling a 50,000 kilowatt battery system for Kyushu Electric Power Co.9508.TO +0.41% to study ways to better accommodate solar power.

A slightly smaller, 40,000 kilowatt battery system is under construction in Minami Soma, north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, for Tohoku Electric Power Co.9506.TO +0.52% to conduct similar research.

The government is financing both projects at a total cost of ¥31.7 billion ($257 million), a government official said.

Power companies have cited the volatility of supply as a reason for refusing to accept new solar power suppliers, effectively putting a brake on efforts to increase use of this renewable power in Japan.

Part of the problem lies in the relatively small size of Japan’s power grids, due to the geography of the archipelago and the lack of compatibility between regional power utility grids.

In Europe, where renewable energy is widely adopted, power grids are connected across the continent enabling surges in electricity generation in one location to be sent elsewhere relatively easily.

During a boom in solar power investment in the two years after Japan’s renewable energy law took effect in July 2012, the southern island of Kyushu saw an especially large number of solar projects due to its relatively high levels of sunshine.

Kyushu Electric suspended making contracts with new projects last September, citing problems with its grid capacity.

The utility will use the new battery system to study how to stabilize electricity flows when solar power generates a large amount of power on a low demand day, a company spokesman said.

Tohoku also enjoyed a solar investment boom because of its large areas of unused land. Tohoku Electric’s research into improved handling of solar electricity will start in February.

WSJ



15 Comments on "Japan Building Giant Battery Systems to Store Solar Power"

  1. ghung on Wed, 24th Jun 2015 9:05 am 

    “…assembling a 50,000 kilowatt battery system…”

    Kilowatt hours? That’s how battery capacity is measured. If that’s the case, for perspective, our home’s battery set is rated at 52 kilowatt hours, so this system is only about 1000 times as large….

    …. or maybe the authors should know WTF they are writing about.

  2. Lawfish1964 on Wed, 24th Jun 2015 10:06 am 

    A kilowatt hour is simply 1000 watts being produced for one hour. Watts are volts x amps, so it could be any combination, but likely something in the area of 200 volts @ 250,000 amps. Or perhaps it’s high voltage, maybe 5000 volts @ 10,000 amps or vice versa.

    Your car battery is a better comparison. All are 12 volts and the stronger ones have high amperage, like in the 150-200 amp range. So a battery of 12 volts @ 150 amps = 1,800 watts. If it could produce that full charge for an hour, it would be capable of producing 1.8 kwh.

  3. Newfie on Wed, 24th Jun 2015 5:28 pm 

    “a 50,000 kilowatt battery”

    A typical power plant produces 500,000 to 1,000,000 kilowatts. They will need a lot of those batteries to store the energy equivalent of hundreds of power plants.

  4. Makati1 on Wed, 24th Jun 2015 7:53 pm 

    Batteries are the stumbling block to most ‘renewables’. None of them are reliable. Even hydro requires a constant flow of water at certain levels to be practical. With climate change, that too is becoming less and less reliable.

    As I flew over Tokyo last month, I saw many small solar farms all over the suburbs and many factory and warehouse roofs covered with panels. Those are the most practical systems. Not country wide commercial systems.

  5. peakyeast on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 8:28 am 

    257 million $ for 90.000 KW(h) battery.

    That is incredibly expensive.

    Putting it at 2855$ per KWh.

    In comparison a lead acid battery would cost approx. 46$ per KWh. – Please mind to add support electronics and pacakaging on top.

    If used with musks new wall battery: Approx. 300$ per KWh (if i remember correctly)

    So what justifies this being a factor of 10 above musks wall battery??

    That must be some pretty special batteries and fancy packaging and expensive support electronics – to justify this price…

    Something is very wrong – either with the numbers, the description or (hopefully not) the project itself…

    Or perhaps its just me…

  6. Davy on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 9:17 am 

    Peak, that will be a bargain when one considers the cost of a KWH of fusion power that likely will never be produce.

  7. Kenz300 on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 9:56 am 

    The transition to safer, cleaner and cheaper alternative energy sources continues.

    Renewable Energy Responsible for First Ever Carbon Emissions Stabilization – Renewable Energy World

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2015/06/renewable-energy-responsible-for-first-ever-carbon-emissions-stabilization.html

  8. apneaman on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 1:37 pm 

    770,000 tons of solar panels to end up in garbage in 2040

    “About 770,000 tons worth of solar panels will end up in the garbage in Japan in fiscal 2040 after the end of their useful life, according to an Environment Ministry estimate.

    Most old solar panels are now disposed of in landfill due to a lack of a framework for recycling or reusability, the ministry said, adding it plans to establish guidelines by next March on their disposal.

    Some panels contain harmful materials such as lead and selenium and may pollute the environment, ministry officials said.”

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/23/national/770000-tons-of-solar-panels-to-end-up-in-garbage-in-2040/#.VYxJvlIV1NE

  9. Steve O on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 2:21 pm 

    “770,000 tons of solar panels to end up in garbage in 2040”

    That kind of mindless business-as-usual article is pretty typical of where we are now. The reality is that, barring some cornucopian miracle, they’ll be running those panels until their output hits zero because Japan will need every source of electricity they can find in 2040.

  10. Davy on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 2:37 pm 

    Ape Man, the greenies tell me solar is a clean energy source who am I supposed to believe you or Kenz?

  11. apneaman on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 4:44 pm 

    Well Davy, all living things produce a waste stream and it is always reincorporated back into the earth. But when it comes to the naked apes, our waste streams are torrential rivers now and they far exceed the earths capacity to reincorporate them while still keeping the biosphere in the reasonably stable condition for us to flourish. It is simple cause and effect. Too many of us have pushed too hard for to long and now the system is pushing back. There will be a new system, but it will not be one friendly to apes and probably not survivable for any. Solar is currently generating about 1% of electricity globally. Imagine how many dystopian lakes and toxic towns would be created if it was 10% or 20% or 50%? Don’t look to clean to me, but then again privileged green latte liberal westerners are the biggest NIMBY people around.
    Doesn’t really matter Davy, it’s just another drop in the bucket and will not change anything in the aggregate. There are many good reasons to get solar, but saving our environment ain’t one of them. Smoke em if you got em.

    Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech, discovers Tim Maughan.

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150402-the-worst-place-on-earth

  12. Davy on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 6:26 pm 

    Ape Man, you do know I was being stupid to be funny to make the same point. We are on the same page. Anyway thanks for the comment. What you said is what I would say saving my fingers the effort.

    Now will Kenz reply and give us his idea on the subject not just his greenie advertisement “go green and all will be good.”

  13. Northwest Resident on Thu, 25th Jun 2015 7:25 pm 

    “Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech”

    One of many, no doubt.

  14. Kenz300 on Sat, 27th Jun 2015 9:40 am 

    Climate Change is real……. deal with it….. phase out FOSSIL fuel use…..

    Renewables to Beat Fossil Fuels With $3.7 Trillion Solar Boom – Renewable Energy World

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/news/2015/06/renewables-to-beat-fossil-fuels-with-3-7-trillion-solar-boom.html

  15. Kenz300 on Sun, 28th Jun 2015 7:13 am 

    TESLA is building their GIGA battery factory and one of the uses of the batteries that will be produced is for grid storage and to supply his other company Solar City with home energy storage solutions to go with their home solar panels.

    Wind and solar are the future. They are safer, cleaner and cheaper than Fossil fuel alternatives.

    We can deal with the cause of Climate Change or we will deal with the impact from Climate Change.

    Pope Francis On Climate Change: Man Has ‘Slapped Nature In The Face’

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/15/pope-francis-climate-change_n_6477388.html?utm_hp_ref=generation-change

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