BY MATHIAS JULIUS FALKENGAARD
Published 29.07.19 at 11:06
If a ferry is docked for 5-10 minutes before sailing off again, refueling needs to be fast. If ferries at the same time, in the name of climate change mitigation, are to sail on electricity, proper battery solutions are needed. Effective battery solutions.
Danish subsupplier to the wind industry KK Wind Solutions collaborates with Aalborg University, Denmark, and companies Powercon and Beyonder to create such a solution. For this purpose, they have been awarded DKK 15.9 million (EUR 2.13 million) by Denmark's Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP).
This is the second-highest amount awarded to a project in the latest allocation round.
The project is titled "Sense – Renewable Energy Systems", and according to KK Wind Solutions Senior Specialist Bjørn Rannestad, the funding will be well spent.
"Energy is also power. Effect. Over time. That's what we're looking at with this project with a technology based on lithium-ion [Li-on] batteries," he states.
Rannestad gives the example that a megawatt-hour's recharge does not have to consist of 1 MW over 60 minutes but can also be 2 MW over 30, or 4 MW over 15. At times, this would be more appropriate.
Which brings us back to ferries.
Over the summer, EnergyWatch will focus on future solutions in the energy sector.
We write about a range of projects that have received support from Denmark's Energy Technology Development and Demonstration
Speeding up ferries
The EUDP project consists of two physical demonstrators, one somewhat more tangible than the other.
"One of the demonstrators included in the project is what we call a megacharger. It's for ferries," says Rannestad, continuing:
"A short-distance ferry is not docked for a long time. As such, it needs to be able to recharge very, very quickly if it is to sail all day. It needs a lot of power. It's not going to sail very far, so it doesn't need a lot of energy, but it needs effect. That's what we're trying to address with our megacharger," he says.
This type of solution has been seen before, for instance, ferries Tycho Brahe and Aurora sailing on the Øresund strait between Denmark and Sweden, the former country's first electric ferries. Or electric ferry Ampere, which has sailed across the Sogn Fjord in Norway since 2015. This is the type of vessel targeted.
The method is based on the project's Norwegian partner, tells Rannestad:
"This is not exactly new. But the mindset is interesting, and the new things we bring are in the technology, which Beyonder has refined and patented."
"The technology is similar to a supercapacitor, which has the property of being able to recharge and discharge very quickly. However, it doesn't hold a lot of energy. So you get the best of both worlds: li-on batteries and supercapacitor power. In this way, we merge two technologies," he continues.
Moreover, the project has an environmental aspect, says Rannestad. Beyonder has based its technology on wood from Norwegian forests, from which fine carbon has been made.
• The project is titled "Sense – renewable energy systems"
• The EUDP has allocated the second-largest amount to the partners at the latest allocation round, DKK 15.9 million (EUR 2.13 million)
• The funds have been allocated based on the EUDP category "System integration"
About the project
Besides ferries, the project involves another, as mentioned, slightly more abstract focus. This pertains to frequency regulation of the supply grid. The more renewable energy that fills up the grid, the more need there is for frequency regulation – to keep the grid in balance, so to speak.
Currently, this part is mostly handled by power plants. But the Sense project offers another way to adjust for unwanted impulses in the grid.
"Our technology can level out these imbalances. Not over a long time. Not over 30 or 60 minutes, but rather less than 15 minutes. To do this, you need high effect. And that's what we're doing: high effect over a short time rather than low effect over a long time," he says.
"Think of a bucket of water. Do you pour it all out at once or do it carefully with a thin squirt? Our method is to empty the bucket all at once. Correspondingly, you can recharge the battery at once as soon as wind arrives. We handle the gusts coming in using the battery, and then we stabilize the grid with it," continues Rannestad.
The battery technology is fundamentally the same, whether it is used for ferries or the grid. The differences lie in the details.
Unlike many of the competing technologies, this one has a high efficiency rate
BJØRN RANNESTAD, SENIOR SPECIALIST, KK WIND SOLUTIONS
Up against flywheels
Other technologies providing high effect in a short time might include flywheels, pressurized air and different kinds of chemistry related to li-on batteries. But compared to the competition, Sense has some clear advantages, Rannestad assesses.
First and foremost, the wastage rate is low.
"Unlike many of the competing technologies, this one has a high efficiency rate. You get a lot of energy back. For, as you recharge a battery and then discharge it, there is always some part being wasted. Some of it disappears in the process. But these lithium capacitors have a very high efficiency rate, compared to competitors," says Rannestad.
Moreover, he points out that the technology has a longer lifespan than other types of batteries. Thus, it has a high number of discharge and recharge cycles. This means that the battery simply lasts longer than what is often the case.
"When you're sailing on a ferry or using a form of stabilizing system, by which you need to recharge perhaps 10 or more times a day, you burn out the battery quickly. It might have 2000-3000 recharge-discharge cycles, which might take a year, and that's the end. But with this technology, the count is in the hundred thousands, providing entirely different lifespans," he says.
Now we will see if it all makes sense when the project is tested physically for the first time.
We have a business case for it, but whether it really holds up, and depending on how things look when reality strikes, that's what's exciting
BJØRN RANNESTAD, SENIOR SPECIALIST, KK WIND SOLUTIONS
The partners will begin later during the summer, and Rannestad is anxious to see how things will proceed once the Sense team establishes the two demonstrators: the megacharger and the grid stabilizer. He acknowledges that the project holds several variables.
"The challenges come from our aiming at high effect and reasonable energy density. We have some numbers that stem from some of the work done by Beyonder in the lab, but whether they hold up in actual application at a larger, physical scale, we'll have to find out," he says.
And then there is the price of the product. The parties have worked some numbers here as well, but Rannestad would rather not disclose them. He merely states:
"It's competitive compared to what we see in competing technologies, the price of other technologies and things like that. We have some estimates of a reasonable price, and we have a business case for it, but whether it really holds up, and depending on how things look when reality strikes, that's what's exciting."
In three years it will be determined if the Sense project has reached safe habor. The EUDP project is slated to end at that time – with a commercial, deployable technology, according to plan.