The World Energy Forum 2018 took place in Ordos, Inner Mongolia (which is one of the autonomous regions of China) between August 10th-12th. Storelectric Ltd were personally invited by the President of the WEF Dr Harold Oh. To see the letter please click here. Tallat M Azad the MD of SEL Ltd presented under the session Advanced Storage Technologies with Professors Simon Hogg (Durham University) and Philip Leigh (Hull & Humberside University) amongst others.

There were dignitaries present from various interrelated areas including Ambassadors, Noble Laureates, Businesses, Government Officials and Academic Institutions. In total over 400 people attended, all focused on discussing renewable technologies, their challenges and their solutions (such as Storage, which is where SEL Ltd enters the discussion). The picture below was taken at the opening ceremony and shows the full group of presenters and our Inner Mongolian hosts (our Storelectric MD is in the middle directly under the word “culture”).

SEL Ltd was one of only 2 businesses present and as such a reflection of the importance of SEL’s role in championing grid scale storage (the other company Yunasko from Ukraine was involved with batteries and ultracapacitors therefore much smaller scale). A list of all attendees and the agenda is available on request.

What was of particular interest was the wide-ranging themes discussed at the forum, in addition to the more obvious topics such as the developments in different types of renewable technologies (Wind, Solar, Anaerobic Digesters), storage solutions (CAES, Pumped Hydro and Batteries) and grid integration there were discussions on the blue economy (opportunities in space), how to revitalize landscapes that have been heavily mined, the impact of air quality on the aged population and means of attracting tourism in the grasslands (of inner Mongolia).

Storelectric Ltd presented at one of the parallel sessions to an audience of 100 people (see below) and on the subject of Storage and Energy the following points were discussed/raised

  • Subsidies for storage are not the solution, we need to make storage prices attractive so that they become the natural choice of suppliers and consumers
  • Hydrocarbons are still expected to be prevalent in China for the next 10-15years, storage has to develop alongside a sensible transition to renewables. Simply hydrocarbons have the highest energy density per mass (the carbon molecule provides Hydrogen a carrier to make it safer and more transportable) and it is highly unlikely we will replace jet fuel with anything else. On ground electrification however is possible and this increase in usage will bring large storage into the picture more and more prominently.
  • With difficult problems like intermittency we need to take one step at a time and the first step is resolving the storage problem. Policy, Technology and Infrastructure are the triad we need to solve.
  • Does storage have a clear roadmap for realization of its full potential? The panel seemed to think not even though other industries (such as, for example, semiconductors) have greatly benefited by such an approach. This it was felt was leading to a lack of focused effort.
  • In parallel with storage careful thought needs to be given to the supporting energy infrastructure such as the transmission grid which is getting older and older and less fit for purpose in the energy landscape of tomorrow, there needs to be a coordinated development of the energy economy.
  • A closing comment was “if we don’t start the revolution we will be revolutionized”.
  • The east coast of China is where the technology hub is located.

Storelectric ended its presentation with a 5 step plan as follows

  • Joint activity to identify and map all suitable geological locations in China
  • Further technology development of CAES technology adapted for use in China (e.g. TES CAES, CCGT CAES and or hybrids using blended fuel mixes)
  • Joint co-operation with Storelectric ‘s first projects in UK (involvement with a real CAES project)
  • Joint co-operation to support education of Inner Mongolia delegation on CAES technology (including visit to 1st operational CAES plant in Europe)
  • To help promote large scale technology innovation in China by championing new innovative development approaches such as used by NAM in Holland (note the NAM video was shown to the delegation as part of Storelectric’s presentation)

Follow up discussions took place with the Mayor of Ordos and his deputies, all expressed an interest to take the next steps. There was also a discussion with Dr Robert Loughlin, a Noble Laureate of Physics (in 1996) currently Professor of Physics at Stanford University, someone who is passionate about storage, is very supportive of CAES and sees solving the storage problem as the most pressing issue this century. Robert agreed to a short video interview included in attachment 2.

In addition to the conference presentations the Chinese authorities kindly organized various excursions and extra-curricular events, these included

  1. Lavish opening and closing ceremonies (at which the press and film crews were present)
  2. Attendance at a local Inner Mongolia Grassland Cultural Event
  3. Visit to the WEF office housed in a traditional Mongolian Yurt
  4. Visit to Mausoleum of Genghis Khan

Closing Comment

Inner Mongolia has a rich and diverse cultural heritage and the Chinese authorities see this as an area with untapped potential. It has mineral wealth, the right balance between traditional culture and new technology, the inner Mongolian people are very protective of their heritage (in addition to Mandarin Mongolian is still spoken and written in the province) and importantly this is considered to be an area that can drive the new energy transition. Storelectric was honored to be invited to such a prestigious event.

Events such as these provide a limelight to SEL and demonstrate the importance of grid scale storage at a global level giving further support to the assertion that storage is a global business and essential if renewable deployment is to continue, a message the Chinese authorities (and others) have understood and fully endorsed. We hope to present at next year’s WEF to be hosted in New York.

A View on Energy Storage

A short but illuminating interview with a Noble Laureate in Physics (and a Professor of Physics from Stanford University).