Energy Storage Moves from an ‘Emerging’ to ‘Emerged’ Technology

Energy storage is no longer an emerging technology, said Audrey Fogarty, vice president of product management for energy storage integrator Younicos, Dec. 8.

“It’s safe to say that it has emerged,” she said, speaking during the session “Do we need a hybrid grid to provide high renewable penetration?” at PennWell’s Power Generation Week in Las Vegas.

Fogarty explained that energy storage is already creating a hybrid grid by doing much more than providing high renewable penetration. She said that energy storage is meeting a range of operating needs, such as supporting renewable energy developers with plant operations, enhancing grid reliability, managing load demand changes and managing grid stability. Those services, she said, are being driven by a diverse set of factors, such as power grid challenges, aging conventional power plants, increased share of renewable resources in the power mix, changes in environmental regulations and increased energy demand.

Speaking during the session, Dan Grant, senior electrical engineer for EPC Energy Services said a growing trend in the energy storage sector is an increased interest in supporting remote and rural renewable applications as it pertains to the impact of energy interconnection to upstream grid operations.

Grant said that renewable power solutions are evolving into scalable solutions. Those modular solutions, he added, do not have to be permanent or purchased. They can be mobile and rented or leased solutions.

According to Grant, scalable power applications are needed in locations such as oil and gas gathering sites, weather tracking stations, water management processes and pumping stations, for example. The trend toward remote power applications is driven by the fact that utility power often is unavailable or is available as a delayed resource, and that service is not meeting the needs of the remotely located projects.

Grant said that the lag in available power prompts owners to install power generation as a self-sustaining solution to maintain project schedules. He added that project owners view renewable energy as option to supplement or augment localized energy needs with solar, wind, micro-hydro and battery storage systems, and those applications can be used on a micro scale or as a remote, distributed micro-grid infrastructure.

Looking beyond the question of need, Robert Sherick, manager in SCE’s advanced technology group spoke during the session about the future of energy storage and how the grid will be shaped by both behind-the-meter and front-of the-meter installations.

He said that the current incentives for behind-the-meter installation – those that are installed by end users at their homes – are greater than front-of-the-meter installations – large-scale utility installations. That means, in the short term, those incentives will drive growth of behind-the-meter applications faster than front-of-the-meter, he said.

Front-of-the-meter installations, on the other hand, will prevail in the long term as a result of state-level mandates, such as those now in place in California, for utility purchases of power from large-scale energy storage projects.

According to Fogarty, behind-the-meter and front-of-the-meter projects will each serve different needs in the future.

“It will be necessary for the right market design to be in place, and for utilities to allow aggregation behind the meter and add large scale energy storage,” she said. “It won’t be either or, but a good mix.”

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