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Bipartisan support for technology start ups

Wed, 11/13/2013 - 17:17 -- Ruth Williams

Two US Senators have introduced a bill to the Senate that, if passed, will support energy storage entrepreneurs. The Start-up, Jobs and Innovation Act aims to stimulate innovation and generate investment in ground-breaking research and development at start-ups and growing businesses, including pre-revenue energy storage companies, through reforms to the existing tax codes.

Several technology stakeholder groups including the Electricity Storage Association have formed a Coalition of Small Business Innovators to support the bill.

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Exide plant demolition begins

Wed, 11/13/2013 - 17:16 -- Ruth Williams
Exide Technologies Baton Rouge Recycling Centre

Exide’s disused lead-acid battery recycling plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US is being demolished. The facility has sat idle since 2009 when Exide asked the local Department of Environmental Quality to pause production, a procedure that should begin the permanent closure of the plant.

Exide had to apply for extensions to remain out of action while economic conditions were unfavourable for operation. Extensions were granted in 2009, 10 and 11 but denied in 2012 because the company was unable to prove market conditions would become ripe for restarting the site within 12 months. The demolition begun at the end of October and is expected to be completed by December 1st

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California becomes first state to introduce energy storage targets

Thu, 09/05/2013 - 16:54 -- Ruth Williams
Welcome to Cali

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has authored a proposed decision to install 1.325GW of energy storage across the state by 2020. Commissioner Carla Peterman has set out year-by-year procurement targets for Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

The installed energy storage can come from any type of technology and can be employed for a variety of functions such as capacity, ancillary services and peak shaving.

PG&E and SCE are each required to install 580 MW of capacity and SDG&E must acquire 165 MW in total by 2020. The utilities would be allowed to own some of the energy storage capacity as part of their distribution system planning process.

This is the first time energy storage has been included in a State policy, supporters hope it will create a market for electrical energy storage solutions. There has been opposition to the proposal from stakeholders, including generator set trade representatives, who believe electricity storage suppliers should compete in the capacity market with other technologies rather than being prioritised in such a way.

The first installations of capacity must be no later than December 2014.

Chinese rare earth exports

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

China has published a white paper confirming its position on rare earth elements following a complaint filed to the World Trade Organisation.  The US, EU and Japan protested China are limiting their export of rare earth elements to protect domestic industries. China has rebuked this claim and cites mounting environmental damage by over-mining as the reason for slowing its mining programme.
The country is now being criticised for manipulating its estimation of reserves held. Previously they claimed to have 30% of the global reserves but now state it is closer to 20%. The Chinese government is fearful of the environmental impact of over mining.  The country has already come under much scrutiny for its poor environmental track record so vigilance should be welcomed. However some critics fear the re-estimation and slower mining of reserves could have more to do with keeping prices up than concerns for the land they come from.
Industries rely heavily upon rare earth elements and will have to look elsewhere for resources if China is to stand by its conviction.  Greenland could hold the answer, there is an estimated quarter of the elements required globally hidden beneath its ice.  Alternatively countries could follow suit with South-East Asia and by ‘urban mining’ – reclaiming used materials from landfill sites.

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