Jan 27, 2021

Aral selects Siemens for gas station upgrades in Germany

Siemens
electricvehicles
Germany
Dominic Ellis
3 min
The installation of intelligent substations, expected to be completed next month, will see ultra-fast charging technology for electric vehicles
The installation of intelligent substations, expected to be completed next month, will see ultra-fast charging technology for electric vehicles...

Aral AG, a subsidiary of the bp group in Germany, has tasked Siemens Smart Infrastructure with expanding the grid connection at 30 gas stations. 

The installation of intelligent substations, expected to be completed by the end of February, allows Aral to upgrade its gas stations with ultra-fast charging technology for electric vehicles. 

The expansion of the public charging infrastructure is an essential requirement for the acceleration of electric mobility. The joint project between Aral and Siemens is an important contribution to creating public fast-charging stations.

“By equipping our gas stations with charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, we are taking a major step forward in creating the gas station of the future,” said Patrick Wendeler, member of the Managing Board of Aral AG. “To make charging as fast as putting fuel in your car, we have opted for ultra-fast charging stations with a power of up to 350kW. But chargers alone are not enough: The retrofit also requires a powerful and reliable grid connection. That is why we are glad to have Siemens with its expertise in electrical infrastructure at our side.” 

Most gas stations currently only have a low-voltage connection and to meet the increased power demand of fast chargers, the grid connection needs to be upgraded to a medium-voltage connection with much higher power. This is achieved through the substations which connect the gas stations’ charging infrastructure to the public power grid. 

Each substation consists of a hermetically capsulated transformer, a gas-insulated medium-voltage switchgear, type 8DJH, and a Sivacon S8 low-voltage switchboard.

By using communicating hardware and IoT technology, Aral can obtain information about the status of the substations at any time. This will enable the blue-and-white labeled service station brand to guarantee their customers the full functionality of its ultra-fast charging stations even better than today. 

The utilization of sensors helps to generate data, thereby ensuring continuous monitoring of the health status and a safe operation of the equipment. These values are then transmitted over communication interfaces to a higher-level, cloud-based IoT system. The data is evaluated and visualized via a web application in a useful addition to those of the fast charging stations. 

“This intelligent substation not only allows Aral to introduce ultra-fast charging technology, but also ensures highest reliability and better grid utilization within the existing infrastructure,” said Stephan May, CEO of Distribution Systems at Siemens Smart Infrastructure. 

“Real time data monitoring enables optimal usage of the assets. For this reason, digitalization is an important prerequisite for efficient load management and to optimize the use of power resources.”

Aral operates all ultra-fast charging stations on its own, supplying 100 percent green power. Assuming the appropriate battery technology is provided, the electric vehicle can be fully recharged within ten minutes to a range of up to 350kms.

The roll-out of high-power chargers at Aral gas stations in Germany is part of bp’s strategy to increase the number of charge points. Globally operated charging points will be increased from 7,000 in 2020 to 70,000 in 2030.

Sales of battery-electric vehicles in Germany increased three-fold to more than 194,000 units in 2020 and the country is aiming for 7m-10m EV registrations by 2030.

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Jul 26, 2021

Form Energy receives funding power for iron-air batteries

Energy
batteries
grid
Renewables
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Startup Form Energy receives $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund to further develop iron-air batteries

Form Energy believes it has cracked the conundrum of commercialising grid storage through iron-air batteries - and some of the biggest names in industry are backing its potential.

The startup recently announced the battery chemistry of its first commercial product and a $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund. Founded in 2017, Form Energy is backed by investors Eni Next LLC, MIT’s The Engine, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group and Macquarie Capital.

While solar and wind resources are the lowest marginal cost sources of electricity, the grid faces a challenge: how to manage the multi-day variability of renewable energy, even in periods of multi-day weather events, without sacrificing energy reliability or affordability.

Moreover, while Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, they run out of energy after just a few hours. Iron-air batteries, however, are predicted to have theoretical energy densities of more than 1,200 Wh/kg according to Renaissance of the iron-air battery (phys.org)

The active components of Form Energy's iron-air battery system are some of the cheapest, and most abundant materials: iron, water, and air. Iron-air batteries are the best solution to balance the multi-day variability of renewable energy due to their extremely low cost, safety, durability, and global scalability.

It claims its first commercial product is a rechargeable iron-air battery capable of delivering electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with conventional power plants and at less than 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion and can be optimised to store electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with legacy power plants.

"This product is our first step to tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonisation: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather, grid outages, or periods of low renewable generation," it states.

Mateo Jaramillo, CEO and Co-founder of Form Energy, said it conducted a broad review of available technologies and has reinvented the iron-air battery to optimise it for multi-day energy storage for the electric grid. "With this technology, we are tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather or grid outages," he said.

Form Energy and ArcelorMittal are working jointly on the development of iron materials which ArcelorMittal would non-exclusively supply for Form’s battery systems. Form Energy intends to source the iron domestically and manufacture the battery systems near where they will be sited. Form Energy’s first project is with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy, located near the heart of the American Iron Range.

Greg Ludkovsky, Global Head of Research and Development at ArcelorMittal, believes Form Energy is at the leading edge of developments in the long-duration, grid-scale battery storage space. "The multi-day energy storage technology they have developed holds exciting potential to overcome the issue of intermittent supply of renewable energy."

Investors in Form Energy's November 2020 round included Energy Impact Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners III, and Temasek.

In May 2020, it signed a contract with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy to jointly deploy a 1MW / 150MWh pilot project to be located in Cambridge, MN. Great River Energy is Minnesota's second-largest electric utility and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the US.

Last week Helena and Energy Vault announced a strategic partnership to identify additional opportunities for Energy Vault’s waste remediation technologies as the company begins deployment of its energy storage system worldwide. It received new investment from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) in June.

Maoneng has revealed more details of its proposed 240MWp / 480MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in Australia (click here).

The BESS represents hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that will improve electricity grid reliability and network stability by drawing energy from the grid during off-peak periods for battery storage, and dispatching energy to the grid during peak periods. 

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