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PV Taiwan Report: Efficient energy storage and smart grid forum

moderator and speakers-s

On 15 October 2015 the half day "Efficient energy storage and smart grid forum" was held to coincide with PV Taiwan, the largest annual photovoltaic (PV) conference and exhibition in Taiwan. The forum was organized by the ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative (LCI) in conjunction with Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), the global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for the micro- and nano-electronics industries and the Taiwan Battery Association. The forum was moderated by Dr Chi Gou-chung, Co-Chairman of SEMI Taiwan's High Concentration Photovoltaics (HCPV) Commission. It featured five presentations, including two by representatives from LCI member companies ABB and Schneider. The main recurring theme and focus of the forum was finding ways to improve energy storage efficiency and smart grid usage to solve problems such as voltage disturbances and poor power quality resulting from integration of renewable energy into the grid.

Dr Chi Gou-chung, Co-Chairman, SEMI Taiwan HCPV Commission

Chen Yi-cheng, Section Head, Taiwan Power Company
Dr Giacomo Bambi, Marketing Product Manager, ABB
Jim Cherng, CEO, Amita Technologies
Chen Chao-shun, Professor, I-Shou University
James Chen, Sales Manager, Schneider Electric


Topic: Progress of Taipower's PV project development
Speaker: Chen Yi-cheng, Section Head, Taiwan Power Company

Chen gave an overview of Taiwan Power Company's (Taipower) plans and ongoing efforts to integrate renewable energy installations (particularly photovoltaics, PV) systems with the grid.

While Taiwan still relies on fossil fuels for the majority of its 40.7 Gigawatts (GW) of installed electricity-generating capacity, there has been a large increase in renewables in recent years, albeit from a very low base.

Chen pointed out that under Taiwan's Renewable Energy Development Act, utilities are obliged to purchase renewable energy and that targets will increase this capacity further in the years ahead. According to Chen, Taiwan has a national target to increase renewable energy capacity to 17.25 GW by 2030. Of this, the target is to increase PV capacity to 8.7 GW and wind energy to 5.2 GW (1.2 GW onshore and 4 GW offshore) by 2030. Since PV capacity was only 615 MW in 2014, there is a long way to go to reach the target. However, there are already a number of small demonstration PV plants all over Taiwan and Taipower is learning from its experience from smaller projects.

Topic: PV and storage in residential applications
Speaker: Dr Giacomo Bambi, Marketing Product Manager, ABB
According to Bambi, while many PV systems were initially installed as investments to take advantage of government subsidies and high feed-in tariffs, PV systems are now becoming more attractive as a way to generate electricity for personal or business use and to save on electricity bills.

Given a rapid increase in renewable energy in the electricity mix in many countries (particularly in Europe), since wind and solar energy are not stable, overall grid stability is becoming an issue. This is why storage and smart grid systems are needed. With PV systems and storage combined you can solve the problem of unstable supply. If you go a step further and integrate these with smart grids, you can minimize the impact on the grid and maximize the use of renewable energy when it is most available. For example, a smart system always use renewable energy when it is available and would automatically run a washing machine when solar energy output is at its peak, in the middle of the day. When the battery is fully charged and the energy is not being used, it can be automatically fed into the grid. When there is insufficient power in the grid, the battery can be used. Alternatively, when the battery is flat, the user can get power from the grid.

ABB will introduce smart systems that do all of this in 1Q16. According to Bambi, while solar storage systems are still quite expensive, as the market expands, prices will come down. He expects a 35% decline in prices by 2018.

Topic: Lithium-ion battery development for ESS applications
Speaker: Jim Cherng, CEO, Amita Technologies
Cherng gave an overview of various types of battery technologies, covering current solutions and development and possible improvements in the future. He explained a number of improvements that have been made in technology to make batteries more efficient and durable and gave examples of how different materials may be used to make batteries even better in the future.

Topic: Application of smart inverters for enhancement of PV penetration in the power grid
Speaker: Chen Chao-shun, Professor, I-Shou University
If Taiwan's target of 8.7 GW of PV energy is realized, this will place a lot of pressure on the electric grid. This has been the experience of countries like Germany. Systems have to be modified to deal with the PV load. Chen talked about some testing demonstration sites on the island of Penghu, which already gets 30% of its power from renewables. In particular, he talked about smart inverters, which modify the voltage and frequency to prevent the grid from being overloaded. He also said that an undersea cable is being laid between Taiwan and Penghu so that wind energy can be transmitted to Taiwan.

Topic: Solar and storage for utility power plants and large buildings
Speaker: James Chen, Sales Manager, Schneider Electric
Chen introduced real cases of smart grid platforms. Starting in 2015 Schneider teamed up with 11 partners to work on the GreenLys project, the first full-scale smart grid demonstration project in France. Under the project, two experimental technology platforms are being tested in the cities of Lyon and Grenoble which will ultimately involve 1,000 residential customers and 40 commercial building sites. The goal is to standardize and showcase a functional smart grid, setting the stage for widespread deployment.

Schneider Electric is applying a variety of new technologies to engage businesses and homeowners. The cloud-based StruxureWare Demand-Side Operation platform will enable participation in programmes like demand management and demand response to help energy users optimize their energy bills. New energy storage solutions will enhance energy flexibility and maximize financial benefits. The commercial building solution monitors and controls loads, onsite renewable energy production, energy storage and heating/cooling systems. The residential home solution monitors and controls all electrical equipment, and offers the user access to energy use, room temperature adjustment, lighting control, energy-saving modes and provisional end-of-month bills to check energy savings.

The first stage of the project involved the installation of a system prototype at a building in Grenoble. Since then hundreds of systems have been installed, which have resulted in 16% cost savings by shifting consumption from high-cost peak hours to off-peak hours. To maximize flexibility, the second stage includes load aggregation across multiple buildings and the addition of local PV energy production, energy storage technology and integration with electric vehicle charging stations.

Chen also introduced Schneider's electricity grid self- healing system, which is able to isolate faults and restore power within 20 seconds.