> FOCUS POWER COUPLE
200 MW by this year. The target would more than double the
amount of nonhydro storage capacity in the United States today.
This is the first energy-storage mandate in the country and
could help promote economies of scale.
In Hawaii, solar is now cheaper than power from the grid.
Hawaiian Electric Co. reports nearly 11 percent of utility customers now have solar (typically rooftop), compared with 0.5
“Energy storage is one of the key missing elements in integrating high levels of renewable energy from variable sources
like solar and wind,” said Colton Ching, Hawaiian Electric vice
president for energy delivery.
The utility is reviewing requested proposals for large-scale
energy-storage systems able to store 60–200 MW for up to 30
minutes, second in size to California’s ambitions. The utility
sees multiple uses, including as an auxiliary service for grid
operation through subsecond frequency response (
near-instantaneous changes to keep power quality at 60-hertz) and
minute-to-minute load following (power output adjustments
for fluctuating demand).
“One MW of batteries for one application might be economic, but using it for multiple functions will better the
economics,” Roberts said.
It’s not just the sun-drenched states looking at renewable
and energy storage. Minnesota and New York are both investigating this power marriage for possible distributed generation
or other utility power uses.
Advancing one breakthrough at a time
Energy storage can be driven by all sorts of methods, including
flywheels, pumped-hydro storage, compressed air, thermal and
flow batteries. The most commonly envisioned storage device
features solid-state batteries. Battery manufacturers are working to advance battery chemistries, stack configurations and
other areas to extend battery life.
Jim McDowall serves as business development manager for
Saft America Inc., a worldwide battery manufacturer involved
in the energy-storage market.
“There’s a growing divergence in the energy-storage mar-
ket as it grows and coalesces,” he said. “Sometimes storage
discharge is demanded for only two hours or less. Large-scale
lithium-ion [Li-ion] works best in this situation. Discharge for
energy services, such as peaking systems or shifting to renew-
able energy, might be up to four hours. Li-ion might not be the
best choice for longer discharge applications. It’s clear we need
different batteries for different uses. We’re investigating flow
batteries, sodium-ion, [and] sodium-chloride batteries for lon-
ger discharge times.”
McDowall sees the energy-storage market maturing as it’s
proven in demonstration projects.
“A lot more lenders are getting involved and applying due
diligence so systems operate as advertised. The future is looking bright,” he said.
ECs getting hands-on experience
In its day, the historic 1,200-acre Philadelphia Navy Yard
was the nation’s largest facility for the construction, storage
and repair of U.S. naval vessels. Today, this prime real estate
is undergoing a massive commercial and residential redevelopment. It also is serving as an incubator and prove-out site
for smart grid and green technologies within a community
microgrid. Electrical contractors are part of the redevelopment
team working with the GridSTAR Center, an educational and
research organization operating within Pennsylvania State University’s Architectural Engineering Department.
Kenneth MacDougall, director of business development for
the Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, said the site already has a smart home
(part of the GridSTAR effort) that features solar energy storage. Serving as an educational center, the home allows the trade
community and general public to learn how green technologies
can work together to drive optimum efficiency.
“Working with an energy-storage unit requires training,”
MacDougall said. “You have to understand how it works. For
instance, how do you connect the transformer? How do you
work with smart inverters? Those ECs who have worked on
substation and other utility work will already know the components used in energy storage be it batteries or inverters.”
MacDougall said the Navy Yard’s microgrid electric room
will soon serve as a training space, allowing electricians to see
first-hand how green power and its delivery through energy
storage serves the site’s infrastructure. He added that contractors involved in the site redevelopment will be poised to
educate their customers and win projects that involve this burgeoning power configuration.
GAVIN, LEED Green Associate, is the owner of Gavo
Communications, a sustainability-focused marketing services firm
serving the energy, construction, and landscaping industries. He can be
reached at email@example.com. I M
“I definitely see clean energy
as a driver that will enable
energy storage to take off.”
Energy Storage Association
Saft America Inc. PV energy-storage project