PG&E Successfully Demonstrates Utility-Scale Battery Storage


By Editors of Power Engineering

Pacific Gas and Electric Company successfully completed a technology demonstration project to explore the performance of battery storage systems in California’s electricity markets.

The project, which began in 2014, used a two-MW Vaca-Dixon and 4-MW Yerba Buena battery storage systems in California Independent System Operator (CAISO) markets. In particular, the Yerba Buena system both participated in the market and served as a backup in the event of disturbances or outages.

PG&E compiled a report that includes an overview of the market participation process and the challenges of operating battery resources on the grid.

“We see great potential for energy storage systems to benefit Californians, said Kevin Dasso, vice president, Electric Asset Management, PG&E. “Through this demonstration PG&E has addressed multiple barriers and gained incredible operational experience with battery storage. We’ve identified and resolved challenging implementation issues, established a new interconnection process, and developed an automated dispatch system that will serve as a platform for continued market participation.”

During the course of the project, PG&E developed and deployed a scalable technology platform to automate the response of current and future battery storage resources to CAISO markets, quantified the financial performance of battery systems and identified opportunities and challenges associated with operating dual-use energy storage systems.

The project also included tasks to put in place processes and technology to enable the efficient operation of battery storage resources.

“When we started this project, there were no batteries participating in the CAISO markets, so the only information available about battery market performance came from economic models,” said Manho Yeung, senior director, Transmission Asset Management, PG&E.

“So much goes into deploying a completely new type of technology in the CAISO market, and PG&E developed new workflows and procedures, and a new IT technology platform to make it all work. We’ve successfully tested how batteries actually perform in the markets, substantially helping to inform the conversation about energy storage in California. Now that we have put these elements in place, it will be much easier to bring future battery systems online,”

Next year, PG&E will use the Yerba Buena battery for another demonstration involving the coordination of third-party distributed energy resources, such as residential and commercial solar, using smart inverters and battery storage controlled through a distributed energy resource management system. 

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