Reality check: First-year report card for North America's largest energy storage project
Quick Take: Fortnightly's Power Profit blog has an interesting interview with Jeff Gates, Managing Director of Duke Energy’s commercial transmission business. He reports on the findings for the first year of operation at Duke's 36-MW advanced lead acid battery at the Notrees, TX wind farm. With anything as speculative as energy storage, it's always nice to get real-world results. - Jesse Berst
The $43 million battery project was funded by Duke with 50% of the cost covered under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. By storing wind energy, the battery smoothes the wind farm's variability. It can respond quickly to regulate frequency and also provide ancillary services.
Duke is currently preparing its first report for the U.S. Department of Energy. One benefit is reducing emissions compared to power from gas-fired generation. There are other benefits as well. The battery is very fast and very accurate. A conventional power plant can take several minutes to ramp to a output level. But the battery can respond with full output in less than a second.
The system is currently delivering power for frequency regulation 6 to 10 times per hour. The system has also done some dispatch into the energy market during peak periods when prices were high. "To use storage only for what conventional generators do doesn’t tap its true value," says Gates. "Flexibility and reliability are probably the two biggest values."
One remaining issue is how storage is viewed by the regulators. Utilities must value storage in a way that regulators agree it is the best-fit solution. Duke is currently studying whether storage makes sense in the Carolinas.
"To me, it’s not a question of whether storage will become more prevalent, it’s a question of when."
Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.
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