New report reviews top US projects

Grid-scale energy storage projects in the USA are causing problems for utilities, according to a report from Energy Storage Update. Photo: Borrego Springs microgrid, San Diego Gas & Electric Company

Grid-scale energy storage projects in the USA are a challenge for utilities, says an Energy Storage Update report. Photo: Borrego Springs microgrid, San Diego Gas & Electric

By Jason Deign

Grid-scale energy storage projects are still a challenge for US utilities, according to a new report from Energy Storage Report sponsor Energy Storage Update.

The free US Energy Storage Projects and Prospects Guide 2016 focuses on three leading battery plants and reveals two of them have experienced significant setbacks since they started.

Notrees, which is owned by Duke Energy in Texas, and Tehachapi, belonging to Southern California Edison (SCE) in California, both had problems with battery vendors and have subsequently had to overcome additional hurdles.

At Notrees, a 36MW, 24MWh plant that was commissioned in October 2012, the original battery provider, Xtreme Power, went out of business. The vendor’s assets ended up with the German energy storage project developer Younicos.

At the same time, however, Duke discovered the advanced lead-acid batteries installed by Xtreme were a poor fit to the storage applications emerging at Notrees, which was leading to more rapid battery degradation than expected.
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A common standard for energy storage in 2016

The MESA Standards Alliance plans to release open standards for energy storage this year. Photo credit: 1Energy Systems – Battery Innovation Center

The MESA Standards Alliance plans to release draft open standards for energy storage this year. Photo credit: 1Energy Systems – Battery Innovation Center

By Jason Deign

A draft open standard for energy storage could be released as soon as the end of this year, according to a US body.

The move could help bring down energy storage costs by making it easier to swap out system components, said Darcy Wheeles, programme director at the Modular Energy Storage Architecture (MESA) Standards Alliance.

“Standards will allow the components of energy storage systems be more plug and play,” she said.

“So if you have a new battery technology that comes along, you can replace it in the energy storage system without having to reconfigure all of the communications and do that additional round of non-recurring engineering.

“If you have common communication your instalment costs, your development costs, can be reduced immensely. It’ll allow vendors to not have to spend time with each client reinventing the wheel to standardise how they are going to talk.”
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LG Chem: C&I to be as big as grid-scale

LG Chem battery boss sees huge growth in C&I storage. LG Chem is also taking on Tesla in home energy storage and increasing its grid-scale projects.

LG Chem battery storage boss sees huge growth in C&I storage. The company is also taking on Tesla in home energy storage and increasing grid-scale projects. Photo: LG Chem

By Jason Deign

A top executive at LG Chem has added to growing optimism over the prospects for commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage growth in the US.

Peter Gibson, LG Chem’s director of energy storage system sales, told Energy Storage Report: “In North America, revenue-wise the C&I segment in the next five years could be as large as or even greater than grid-scale.”

His sentiment echoes views expressed by project developers such as Sharp and Demand Energy, which are seeing growing interest in behind-the-meter systems among large energy users.

“Looking at the advantages storage can bring to demand-charge management, we’re very optimistic about how large that C&I segment could grow in the next five years,” Gibson said.

LG Chem last month unveiled a partnership with the worldwide electrical distributor Gexpro, the operating system developer Geli and the power converter maker Ideal Power to target the C&I market.
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Car batteries for grids, the Duke way

Will car batteries really work as a distributed grid storage medium? Duke Energy says: “Yes, but not in the way everyone is thinking.” Photo credit: FIAMM

Will car batteries really work as a distributed grid energy storage medium? Duke Energy says: “Yes, but not in the way everyone is thinking.” Photo credit: FIAMM

Duke Energy, America’s biggest utility, is working on a way to use vehicle batteries for grid energy storage that could sidestep the concept’s biggest drawback. Electric vehicle batteries have long been mooted as a potential sink for distributed renewable energy sources, helping to mop up excess power in times of plenty.
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Xtreme Power completes four projects

The power management and energy storage company Xtreme Power has recently completed four projects to bring its total commissioned capacity to 77MW, making this its best quarter yet, reports Electric Light & Power and others.

The projects are a 3MW system for Kodiak Electric Association in Alaska, two 1.5MW systems for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, plus its largest energy storage system to date, of 36MW, in conjunction with Duke Energy’s Notrees Wind Farm.

And in other news…

Yet again our enthusiasm for a specific topic means that we’ve run out of space for some of the hot stories in energy storage. Here is a pick of recent headlines:

More good funding news for compressed air

General Compression has secured a USD$60 million investment which will partly go towards funding the company’s first grid-scale energy storage demonstration project, reports Recharge News. The 2MW compressed air energy storage (CAES) project, which is already underway in Texas, is aimed at storing surplus energy generated from wind power and is being backed by ConcoPhillips Company.

General Compression has also secured investment from Northwater Intellectual Property Funds, US Renewables Group, Duke Energy, Serious Change and the Wellford Energy Group.