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California has essentially jump-started the renewable energy storage market in North America with its requirement that the big three public utilities in the state deploy a total of 1.325 GW of grid storage capacity by 2024. (See “Get Ready For California’s Energy-Storage Boom,” Solar Industry, April 2014.)

The California Energy Storage Alliance, an advocacy group, says utilities will be allowed to employ energy storage for a variety of functions throughout the electric power system, such as capacity, ancillary services and peak shaving.

While the new energy storage mandate creates opportunities for chemical-, thermal- and mechanical-based storage technologies, many analysts expect battery storage to emerge as a dominant force in energy storage because it is scalable and widely deployable.

According to Navigant Research, batteries have not traditionally been an integral part of the utility grid, primarily due to concerns about cost, safety, durability and efficiency. However, the research firm says technological advances have enabled a new generation of advanced batteries to start playing an important role in grid management.

According to IHS, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries will account for 64% of energy storage installations through 2017. However, the market research firm says opportunities also exist for other battery-based storage technologies, including sodium-sulfur, sodium nickel chloride and flow batteries.



Although Li-ion batteries have been favorites in consumer electronics for the last decade, Navigant Research says the technology is only just now finding its place on the grid, as next-generation cathode chemistries and new manufacturing processes are allowing for larger-format battery cells.

In September of last year, Virginia-based AES Corp. completed the 40 MW Tait Energy Storage Array, located at Dayton Power and Light’s Tait generating station in Ohio. The Li-ion battery array provides frequency regulation in the PJM grid.

In March, the company opened its AES Battery Integration Center in Indianapolis to evaluate new battery and power conversion technologies for use in AES Advancion battery-based energy storage systems. So far, Parker Hannifin and battery-maker LG Chem have announced their participation in the center.

Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) is operating a 4 MW, 2.6 MWh energy storage system in Ohio, also providing frequency regulation services to PJM. RES Americas says it is delivering a 4 MW energy storage system for Canadian grid operator IESO in Ontario this June.

Last year, Portland General Electric (PGE) opened its Salem Smart Power Center that is outfitted with a Li-ion battery-based energy storage system. PGE says it is using the center, part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, to test how to store and better integrate variable renewable energy sources like solar and wind into the electrical grid.

PGE collaborated with Eaton and EnerDel Inc. on the $23 million project, which received U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) matching funds. EnerDel outfitted the center with its 5 MWh Li-ion battery system, and Eaton is providing two-way inverters to manage and operate the energy storage system.



Sodium-based batteries include high-temperature sodium-sulfur energy storage devices, as well as low-temperature aqueous sodium batteries. Most sodium batteries, Navigant says, are capable of low-cost production.

In May 2013, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) and the California Energy Commission unveiled the Yerba Buena Battery Energy Storage System Pilot Project, which includes utility-scale sodium-sulfur battery energy storage, has a 4 MW capacity and can store more than six hours of energy. NGK Insulators is the manufacturer of the sodium-sulfur battery system. S&C Electric Co. is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project. PG&E says it is working with the Electric Power Research Institute to study how sodium-sulfur battery energy storage can improve power quality and reliability and support greater integration of intermittent renewable power.



Flow batteries are single-celled battery cells that transform the electron flow from activated electrolyte into electric current. Navigant says flow batteries can be set up for very long-duration energy storage simply by adding more tanks of liquid electrolyte.

Massachusetts-based WattJoule Corp. has entered into an intellectual property licensing agreement to enable the commercialization of Battelle’s flow battery electrolyte technology, developed over the last several years by the research team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The research was funded by the DOE.

Primus Power, a developer of utility-scale grid storage systems using zinc-flow battery technology batteries, is backed by I2BF Global Ventures, an international clean technology venture capital firm.

Primus has a contract with the Bonneville Power Administration to install and support two of its 250 kW EnergyPod storage devices as part of a research and demonstration project in the Pacific Northwest.

“Our fund is very focused on storage,” says Ilya Golubovich, managing and founding partner of I2BF. “Storage is the missing link.” S

Marketplace: Large-Scale Energy Storage

Mandates Unleash Power Of Large Battery Storage

By Michael Puttré

Different battery technologies feature in pilot programs and full-scale grid stabilization systems.











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