Germany's Nuclear Free, Smart Grid Future
LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 21 August 2012 - Germany is moving towards a nuclear free future, but pessimism regarding the cost and reliability of renewable energy resources implies that smart grid technologies will be vital in order to keep the nation’s power on, states new research from energy experts GlobalData.
The new research* states that Germany’s plans to replace the country’s nuclear energy generation with renewable energy by 2022 will lead to a corresponding rise in smart grid technologies, as a stronger power system is needed to support alternative power generation.
Germany introduced a plan in 2011 to phase-out nuclear energy gradually, following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. Around eight nuclear reactors were closed immediately, reducing nuclear generation in Germany from 133.01 Terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2010 to 102.31 TWh. In 2011, the country’s installed capacities for wind and solar technologies were 29,264.8 Megawatts (MW) and 24,870 MW respectively, accounting for an impressive cumulative share of 32% of the energy mix. However, the anticipated loss of more nuclear power has prompted Germany to focus on increasing their renewable energy technologies further.
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Renewable generation can be sporadic, with voltage fluctuations being caused by cloud cover or shading effects on Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems or low wind speeds on wind farms. During peak-hours, congestion can occur in power transmission lines due to the exchange of excess electricity, and the intermittent nature of renewable energy resources implies that voltage and frequency fluctuations will become more common, threatening German electricity supply.
To prevent instability in the grid, smart grid technologies are required. Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS) can provide quick active and reactive power compensation, while Dynamic Volt-Amp Reactive (D-VAR) systems are used at the grid interconnection points of wind farms to detect voltage disturbances and provide reactive power on a real-time basis.
Energy storage facilities are already present in Germany, but more will be required to effectively utilize the country’s renewable energy. During windy days, surplus energy generated from wind power plants in Northern Germany is currently passed on to neighboring countries, who then experience an increased strain on their grids from the excess power. Various research and demonstration projects on energy storage technologies are already taking place. Technologies such as fuel cells, Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) and Pumped Hydro Storage (PHS) and hydrogen may provide a solution for excess power generated from renewable sources. Storage plays a key role in balancing electricity supply and demand, and it can also help to securing energy contracts, as power can be stored for a future date.
Large scale nuclear energy generation led to low power prices and a strong reputation, and it will take time and extensive R&D for renewable energy sources to catch up. The use of smart grid technologies will help Germany to become independent of its nuclear power plants, but it will be some time before these initiatives bear fruit.
This report provides an analysis on how Germany's transition from nuclear energy to renewable energy resources will be supported by smart grid technologies. This report was built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research, and in-house analysis conducted by GlobalData’s team of industry experts.
GlobalData is a leading global business intelligence provider offering advanced analytics to help clients make better, more informed decisions every day. Our research and analysis is based on the expert knowledge of over 700 qualified business analysts and 25,000 interviews conducted with industry insiders every year, enabling us to offer the most relevant, reliable and actionable strategic business intelligence available for a wide range of industries.
Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.
Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.
The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content.
In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.
Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.
"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president.
“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.
"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.
Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.
Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.
A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.
The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.