Guest blog by Volker Schulte, Senior Industry Expert at Triton Partners and a member of the IPG Advisory Board, about how recent events in Texas underscore the true value of grid stability and flexibility.
Guest blog by Volker Schulte, Senior Industry Expert at Triton Partners and member of the IPG Advisory Board
Recent events in Texas and California show the shortcomings of highly centralized power systems and the real value of grid stability and flexibility. When our energy systems reach their limits and centralized power generation sources are taken offline, the effects are felt on a much greater scale. However, when we have a distributed and more diverse energy supply, we decrease our reliability with less large power sources and therefore limit the number of people affected if one or more of them fail.
Now that we are increasingly switching to an energy system powered by wind and sun, we are also switching to this distributed model. However, this poses a number of challenges due to the disruption of these renewable energy sources. While there are a number of reasons, such as freezer turbines, high heat and power demands due to cold temperatures, lack of gas, and power lines likely to result from the cold, the Texas blackouts give us a picture of what can happen when renewables on a large scale, in our increasingly electrified world, cannot provide sufficient flexible power reserve.
Flexible power sources are crucial for a sustainable and secure network
With the electrification of transportation and heating, the expansion of business use and global growth, we are simultaneously increasing the demand for our power grid and fundamentally changing the way it works. The growth of wind and sun with their inherently intermittent power not only disrupts our conventional methods of network balancing, but also increases the reliability of flexible power sources that can be sent.
Traditionally, diesel generators and natural gas peakers take on this role of flexible electricity due to their availability, portability and, ultimately, low costs. Due to the associated carbon and pollutant emissions, however, the production of fossil fuels is increasingly no longer useful. As a result, more and more grid-connected large batteries are making this emergency power reserve available. Batteries will grow exponentially, but by themselves they will not be able to economically balance the grid and provide enough intermittent power for intermittent renewables. Without fuel-based electricity, this would require a massive superstructure of the infrastructure for renewable energies and storage.
Biofuels, e-fuels, and hydrogen-based fuels such as ammonia are another form of energy storage that we can use to meet the challenges of intermittent generation. These alternative fuels have the ability to offset these weekly or seasonal fluctuations more cheaply than batteries and are therefore equally valuable in achieving a sustainable, safe and affordable energy system for all.
By using multiple sources for different types of electricity generation, we increase our grid stability and thus reduce the likelihood of major system failure. The challenge we now face is to accelerate the diffusion of alternative fuels and support greater growth in large-scale wind and solar infrastructure.
“Flameless Combustion” offers a possible solution for rapid decarbonization
The deadlines for the abundant availability of alternative fuels are uncertain and likely to be geographically specific. For existing power generation products that are relatively fuel specific, switching to hydrogen or biofuels is a high risk investment, especially if these renewable fuel technologies are significantly more expensive than their current alternative.
Intelligent Power Generation (IPG) recognized the critical role of fuel flexibility in reducing the risk of moving to renewable fuels and, over the past five years, has developed a power generation product that not only offers that flexibility but is also compatible with our clean air ambitions and makes economic sense for companies.
IPG’s breakthrough in flameless combustion means that the flameless ceramic turbine can literally “burn” any fuel, regardless of quality or calorific value, and with zero emissions. The flameless combustion provides high operating temperatures which, together with their innovative ceramic waste heat recovery process, guarantee high fuel efficiency. All of this with the aim of achieving energy costs that are comparable to those of a diesel generator.
IPG’s deep tech innovation not only offers an alternative way to part with diesel in fuel-dependent industries. With an energy storage medium that is able to handle the interruption of wind and sun sustainably and inexpensively, it could also support greater growth of this infrastructure worldwide. This, in turn, has the potential to accelerate global decarbonization – a goal that is critical to preventing climate-induced extreme weather events and the resulting effects on our energy security.
Intelligent Power Generation (IPG) is reinventing fuel-based electricity for the renewable future so that industry and companies can end their dependence on diesel today.
They are the developers of the Flameless Ceramic Turbine, a modular 100 kW generator designed to accelerate the decarbonization of fuel-based electricity by reducing the risk of switching to renewable fuels.
Thanks to innovations in flameless combustion technology and high-temperature ceramics, the flameless ceramic turbine delivers pollutant-free electricity from any renewable fuel at the same energy costs that are comparable to those of a diesel generator.
IPG is the first to commercialize fuel-flexible flameless combustion in small-scale power generation. They work with leading universities, government agencies, and pioneering retailers to bring fuel-based decentralized power into line with our climate ambitions.