So, what exactly is involved in calculating solar panels cost in Mt Helix? When thinking about solar power very few people know the way the cost of solar panel systems is actually measured. Or even, for that matter, do we automatically grasp the connection relating to the cost of solar power and the value of solar power. We all know that gasoline prices are in dollars per gallon. We likewise are all aware of approximately how far we’ll be able to drive after spending 40 bucks for a tank of gas. In contrast to a tank of gas, the value of which can be consumed pretty much instantly, solar panels deliver their value across a period of time.
Mt Helix 3 Undervalued Solar Leaders
Caption: Kokam 24-megawatt Energy Storage System (NYSE:ESS), used by South Korea's largest utility, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO): world's largest Lithium NMC ESS for frequency regulation
Sometimes technology creeps up on you before you realize what is happening. Then something happens to get your attention and you realize that things are changing fast. And so it is with batteries, the missing link in replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
Here I cover two areas of battery technology that are transforming power management at scale. The first comes out of left field as a solution to frequency regulation in power plants. The second relates to management of excess energy generated by solar and wind, followed by dispatch of that energy when needed. At its most extreme this role may involve near complete charge and discharge once, or even twice, in a single day, every day.
Grid reliability, increased efficiency and frequency regulation
Late last month Kokam (XKRX:040480) a veteran Lithium ion South Korean battery manufacturer, announced the deployment of 3 high performance Lithium ion battery systems to provide 56MW of specialized batteries for frequency regulation in large power plants in South Korea. The batteries are: two Kokam Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) battery systems with capacities of 24 MW/9 MWh and 16MW/6MWh, and a 16MW/5MWh Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) battery system. The LTO system was implemented first. While LTO technology is robust, with less dependence on temperature control, it is more expensive than NMC batteries and the specifications from the utilities often require temperature control (hence housing in containers which are cooled or heated). I suspect that NMC will become the preferred technology for frequency regulation.
The 24MW NMC battery system is the largest used in the world for frequency regulation. These batteries provide the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) (NYSE:KEP) with ~10% of the frequency regulation needed to allow its entire system to run largely with batteries. KEPCO plans to install ~500MW of rapid response batteries by 2017 to effectively wean South Korea off the need for fossil fuel to provide this reserve power need for frequency regulation. Several battery manufacturers are involved in this project (Kokam, LG Chem (OTC:LGCLF), Samsung (OTC:SSNLF). It isn't clear how much KEPCO has already installed but it may be as much as 230MW of batteries for frequency regulation.
South Korea is special in that it has a single power authority, KEPCO, which is largely responsible for managing the nation's power capacity. So it is possible for one organization to setup a national program to manage 65 GW of power capacity. This capacity is mostly coal powered (~47GW) but with substantial nuclear and hydro capacity (~18GW). There is a very small contribution of wind and solar renewable energy in South Korea.
Currently ~5% of the coal needed to run a coal fired plant is dedicated to frequency regulation, so having batteries take over this role is a substantial saving in coal used. More importantly the South Korean plans (within 2 years!) indicate one of the first examples of batteries assuming a central role in an aspect of power generation that has been seen as a fossil fuel role.
Clearly Kokam doesn't see South Korea as the only market for this role and they have pilot facilities (2-5MW) being reviewed in both Germany and the US. Kokam has the capacity to deliver 100's of MW of the NMC frequency regulation batteries at short notice.
There is a lot of interest in fast response Lithium batteries and a substantial system (2MW) was recently announced in the UK using Toshiba (OTCPK:TOSYY) Lithium Titanate batteries in association with energy company E.ON (OTCPK:E.ON) and it's wholly owned subsidiary Uniper at the Willenhall substation. E.ON also has a 10MW/2.5MWh battery system under development with Tucson Electric Power in Arizona. E.ON is shortlisted for a 250MW tender for frequency response storage in the UK and Kokam is involved in tendering, so Korea's implementation is being watched in Europe too.
Interestingly lithium technology is being used to replace lead acid batteries by Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) in a 35MW facility. There are also major frequency regulation projects in Canada (e.g. 12MW system in Ontario's Independent Electrical System Operator).
These Lithium NMC and LTO batteries are also useful for peak load management improving power quality and reliability in solar and wind applications, and also for spinning reserve applications.
Energy management for renewable energy
This is a big one, as you need a way to store and then access the intermittent power from solar PV and wind. Unlike the frequency regulation application described above, which needs fast, but short term response and high power delivery, energy arbitrage for solar and wind smoothing requires slower and longer term charge/discharge (up to over a number of hours).
A frequency regulation application has a high life cycle (10,000, compared with 4000-8000 with arbitrage), high power (i.e higher than arbitrage), but lower energy density than arbitrage. Because frequency regulation is a special rapid application it is more costly than an arbitrage battery.
The actual needs for energy management at scale are more varied than frequency regulation and so the actual configurations for batteries for this purpose are still evolving. It might be that the critical requirement is ramp rate control, or charge/discharge over hours may be more critical. Battery manufacturers are focusing in on their preferred configurations. For example Kokam has a High Energy NMC battery for energy management at scale.
For the technically minded here are a couple of links to give a sense of the kinds of lithium battery technology and how the different formulations behave. A good summary is here, and for those who want a deeper dive into lithium battery chemistry, here is a pretty up to date article.
Energy management applications for renewable power generation
Pumped hydro has a significant role in energy storage and this is well established with 140GW of pumped hydro already implemented. This large scale storage allows long term (even seasonal) energy storage.
There are surely many old mines, with tailing dams at the top and down below an open cut mine, that can be flooded. GW levels of power can be addressed in such schemes, but the capital costs are not small and they attract controversy because of their size. Two pumped hydro projects in California, Eagle Mountain and Iowa Hill, have been on this path for a long time, but capital and approvals are elusive.
This is happening at several levels. The easy one involves home solar PV systems linking with a home battery. Because it is a small cost (relatively) and the market is big (1.5 million homes in Australia have solar PV), just about all of the battery providers are interested. Here numbers matter as many small systems add up to a lot of power managed and it is managed locally (at the individual house level).
The harder thing is larger scale energy management, and detractors of Lithium batteries point to frequency regulation to indicate why Lithium batteries are inappropriate for energy arbitrage. However, Lithium battery chemistry configured for frequency regulation is not the only chemistry or configuration for lithium batteries, as Tesla is doing fine with its electric cars that have a range of several hundred miles and hence can discharge over many hours.
It seems that a 40ft container housing a 2-2.5MWh system is the scale for a number of utility energy management systems, but systems as large as 100MWh give a sense of the scale being implemented. Obviously a 100MWh plant would involve 40 x 2.5MWh 40ft containers.
Utilities adopting lithium battery energy management applications
There are now many multiple MW systems being installed for this kind of application. Kokam gives details of 12 of its systems installed in the US, South Korea and Australia that have more than 1MW power capacity. In 2015 Kokam alone installed 85MW of battery storage systems and 75MW of that capacity was larger than 1MW.
Substantial lithium batteries are also being adopted (along with solar PV) in remote and mining communities to partially substitute for diesel-powered systems. For example a remote indigenous community in Northern Australia is installing a 2MWh lithium battery storage system to store solar PV and take over grid forming functions from a diesel system. This will allow switchoff of the diesel system during the day as well as storing solar PV produced power.
Lithium batteries as part of a renewable energy project
Clearly renewable energy projects are considering including arbitrage, as there are various management functions that batteries do well, and holding the power generated to be delivered at a time when the value of the energy is greater may make sense. An early example of this kind of arbitrage involves Statoil (NYSE:STO) which recently announced a pilot 1MWh Lithium battery (technology not given) storage system to complement its Hywind Scottish floating 30MW wind farm.
Image : Statoil Hywind turbine
However, there are other battery technologies for deep charge/discharge on a daily basis. While at an earlier stage of development, flow batteries seem well suited to this task. It is a race to see if flow batteries will get a place at the table or whether lithium batteries now have sufficient momentum to dominate the battery arbitrage space.
Update on flow batteries
Six months ago I wrote an article on three flow battery companies (Redflow (ASX:RFX), Imergy Power Systems and ViZn Energy which had partnered with substantial manufacturing companies (Flextronics (NASDAQ:FLEX), Foxconn (OTC:FXCOF) (TWSE:2354) and JBL Circuit (NYSE:JBL) respectively for manufacture of their flow batteries.
While it is too soon to see a lot of progress, there have been developments in each of the partnerships.
Redflow/Flextronics ZnBr flow batteries :
The last 6 months have seen substantial progress with Flextronics now assuming 100% of manufacturing from Redflow. Flextronics now controls all aspects of manufacturing of the RedFlow batteries, with production ramp up in April 2016.
In 2015 in partnership with FLEX, manufacturing costs have been decreased by 15%, the lifecycle/longevity has been improved and cycle cost/kWh over battery lifetime decreased by 50%. Redflow will soon deliver an on-grid demonstration 0.1MW/0.48MWh flow battery system to Ergon Energy.
In addition to exploring remote markets around the world, Redflow is entering the Australian home battery market with a smaller offering. The Redflow share price has doubled since the start of 2016.
Imergy Power Systems/Foxconn :
It is too early to know how the Imergy projects in India, China and Africa are proceeding, although the status of the Sun Edison (NYSE:SUNE) purchase of up to 1000 of Imergy's vanadium flow batteries for implementing in India could be problematic given the disaster that has recently befallen SUNE and news that it is not supporting its activities in India. The rumor is that Adani (IN:ADANIT) may be interested in SUNE's Indian projects.
Recently (end of February 2016) SUNE announced agreement with Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (Ontario IESO) to supply an Imergy 5MW/20MWh system in 2017; this was to be SUNE's first large scale grid-connected energy storage project and it will need to be restructured with SUNE in difficulty. Imergy and Foxconn will need to think creatively about diversifying the route to market for their flow batteries.
ViZn Energy/JBL Circuit : ViZn reported 20% improved capacity and reduced life cycle degradation, which is important for frequency regulation applications.
At the end of the day there will be winners and losers and here sits the dilemma for investors. Is it still too soon to know which technology to back and which companies to invest in? Given the intense interest in frequency regulation I suspect that this market, will be satisfied soon by companies like Kokam and LG Chem who have done the hard yards on understanding Lithium battery chemistry. I suspect that for management of renewable energy it will end up a combination of pumped hydro, Lithium and flow battery technologies, with the latter becoming increasingly important.
What is abundantly clear is that all investors need to look carefully at their fossil fuel portfolios, as the complacency that the switch to renewable energy (with storage) is going to take a long time seems misguided in 2016.
This story about battery storage starting to do heavy lifting has implications in two areas of large scale energy supply: frequency regulation and management of renewable energy. It will help resolve issues of intermittency of renewable energy. The impact will be felt not only on adoption of renewable energy (and hence solar and wind companies) but also on fossil fuel power generation. Investors in fossil fuels should think carefully about where this is heading.
Disclosure: I am/we are long ASX:RFX.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Editor's Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
3 Undervalued Solar Leaders
To Find Out What Your Dream Means, You Need to Be Honest With Yourself
For the most part, dreams are challenging us to be honest about who we are, what we want, what we fear, what causes us pain, our insecurities and the things that are holding us back in life. Dreams often tell us where we’re at in terms of what’s going well and what’s going not so well in our lives.
Our subconscious is like our own personal therapist and we’d be wise to listen to her!
Getting into dream interpretation has so many benefits. It can bring liberation, self awareness, self knowledge, a strong connection to our inner selves and an awareness of our emotions.
Dream interpretation is a massive topic, but this article will explain many of the most important elements you'll need to interpret your dreams.
Step 1: Determine the Function of Your Dream
You can go a long way towards answering the question of what your dreams mean by identifying which of the following functions the dream you want to interpret may be able to serve.
For example, if you were watching a movie about vampires and that night you have a dream about vampires, then the most logical function of that dream, taken from the list below, would be "Organizing Knowledge & Experience." Your brain took in certain elements of the movie and the dream's purpose is to organize them into your existing knowledge base.
The Main Functions of Dreams
- Expressing and processing emotions
- Maintaining or improving mental health
- Providing information on what we want, need, think or feel
- Giving sexual release
- Organising knowledge and experiences – de-fragging the mind like a computer
- Learning (making connections)
- Helping with problem solving (creativity, thinking out of the box, new inventions, finding solutions)
- Providing wish-fulfillment (e.g. having a sexy dream with someone famous)
- Connecting to spiritual realities (rare!)
Through lucid dreaming and dream incubation, we can develop confidence in ourselves and any area of our lives that we choose to. We can also go on some amazing adventures!
Step 2: Don't Ignore Your Emotions
The emotions we experience in our dreams are one of the most important aspects to dream interpretation. Believe it or not, our dreams are trying to be obvious! Understanding dream language can take a bit of practice but once you get into the right mindset you’ll find the majority of your dreams can be interpreted quickly and easily.
An Example of Why Emotions in Dreams are Important
If you are driving a fast car in your dream and feel exhilarated, this could mean you're progressing at a great speed in some area of your life and you are finding it exhilarating and exciting.
- But, what if you are driving a fast car and feel terrified of crashing? The meaning will be vastly different. Something along the lines of, you are traveling too fast in an area of your life and feel out of control.
- Or, what if you are driving in a fast car that will only do 10 miles an hour and you feel impotent and frustrated? You would need to look at what is holding you back in life either through inside or outside circumstances.
Make a special note of your feelings in relation to each symbol that appears in your dream as it's going to give you some of the most valuable information on the dream's message to you.
The Relevance of Recent and Past Events in Dreams
- Recent events come up a lot in our dreams. Sometimes it is because our minds are trying to process and organise what happened, other times they offer the mind handy symbols to present other information.
- Past events, people and places also come into our dreams frequently. They are usually telling us that there is something from our past that needs understanding or resolving. You will normally find that the issue is something that is also prominent in your life now.
If you dream about a house you lived in as a child, for instance, ask yourself what was happening in your life at the time you lived there.
- Did your parents separate?
- Did you change schools?
- Was it a particularly happy time?
- Ask yourself why your mind would want you to revisit that time again.
- Are there things issues from that time still holding you back?
- Did you make decisions based on events in the past that are no longer relevant or useful?
- Do you need to recapture a certain quality or feeling?
Prophetic and Psychic Dreams
There’s a strong myth stating that all of our dreams are foretelling the future, and this is simply not true.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen -- I've had quite a few myself. Dreams can occasionally give us information about future events, (which is where the myth comes from). However, unless we have highly developed psychic abilities, these are usually few and far between. This begs the question, “How do we know when our dream is prophetic?” Unfortunately, the answer to that is that you can’t know until the event you dreamt of takes place.
A lot of people have experienced dreams that involve ESP or what we might call psychic events. Again, these are quite rare -- most people might be lucky to have one or two of these in their lifetime. They include:
- Dreams of a deceased relative or friend (accompanied by feelings of joy, peace and love)
- Dreams of a deceased person we do not know
- A dream involving extra sensory perception (ESP) such as seeing an event in a dream that is taking place at the very moment you dream it
- Dreams of angels, spirit guides or religious figures
- Dreams of past lives
- Out of body experiences
- Astral travel
Those who have had these kinds of dreams report that they are exceptionally vivid and the feeling quality of the dream is different than in ordinary dreaming. The emotions are particularly intense and there is a sense of watching the scene as an observer rather than being involved in it.
While distressing, nightmares can tell us a great deal about ourselves. In particular: what we fear, what causes us the most emotional pain and what is holding us back in life. Nightmares are usually expressing deep feelings and thoughts that we are unconscious of. That's why they're so frightening -- because they are bringing to our attention emotions that were perceived to be threatening, devastating and/or overwhelming at some point in the past.
The occurrence of a nightmare is a sign that you're now ready to deal with these emotions and that you need to deal with them for the sake of your emotional, mental or spiritual health.
This statement may sound obvious, but it's surprising how many of us don't understand that our nightmare is telling us about something we are frightened of or anxious about. Take the time to discover its meaning, and you'll benefit in the long term.
Below are three common dreams that show examples of the kinds of questions you need to be asking yourself to enable you to accurately interpret your dreams
A Partner Being Unfaithful
Dreams of your partner cheating on you are most often an expression of your own anxiety and insecurity. Very rarely will they be your intuition alerting you about actual cheating -- rule out all other possibilities first:
- Are you scared your partner will leave you?
- Do you have low self esteem and/or confidence and wonder whether you deserve your partner?
- Have you or your partner cheated on each other or other partners before and you are worried this will happen again?
- Do you have problems with trusting people?
- Do you find it difficult to trust yourself?
- Are you attracted to someone else?
Dreams of Being Naked
What is your dream of being naked telling you? It will depend greatly on how you feel about it in your dream. Are you embarrassed? Ashamed? Free? Liberated? Vulnerable? Scared? Indignant? Exposed? Natural? Exhilarated?
If you experienced a negative emotion in relation to your nakedness, it could mean:
- You are feeling very vulnerable at the moment.
- You are scared of being exposed in some way.
- You have problems with your relationship with your body.
- You are hiding something you need to share.
If you experienced a positive emotion in relation to your nakedness, it could mean:
- You feel totally free.
- You feel liberated from a problem, setback or difficulty.
- You are at one with your physical nature.
- You enjoy your body.
- You are being completely honest about who you are, what you want or need.
Dreams Involving Animals
One way of interpreting animal symbols that I often use is to ask myself, "What special characteristics does this animal embody?"
- The eagle soars freely high above the earth. Therefore, the eagle has a broad perspective of what is below and will be able to "take in the whole picture." Do you already see the whole picture, or you do need to take a more objective view of something? Maybe you need to look at things from another perspective.
- The eagle is strong and powerful. Do you feel strong and powerful or does someone in your life embody these qualities?
- The eagle is a skillful hunter. Do you need to hunt something down or do you feel like someone is hunting you down?
- Are you feeling stung by something that happened recently or by something someone said?
- Bee is a homophone of "Be." Is your dream of bees telling you to just "be" yourself?
- Think about what is special about bees. Bees are very busy, productive and industrious creatures. They work cooperatively for their survival. They swarm together for protection and to attack. They are hive creatures - the group is more important and powerful than the individual. They produce a nourishing food (honey). Do one of these things prick your intuition about what the bees mean to you?