Battery-based energy storage has become the mainstream means to aid in reliable and affordable electric energy. Many have thought that energy storage would be counter-productive for utilities, but the opposite may be true.
Utilities have recognized many aspects of battery energy storage as beneficial to their services and practices. Some of those benefits are:
- Saving money by deferring or eliminating potential upgrades in Transmission and Distribution (T&D) investment. Storage supplements the T&D system by taking congestion and stress off of the system and storing electricity for future use.
- Solve intermittent energy provided by renewable energy vehicles. Renewable energy sources are still working to provide large amounts of energy. The problem with many types of renewable energy (e.g. wind and solar) depends on cooperation from Mother Nature. Sometimes, that cooperation does not happen. Storage of energy addresses the intermittency of renewables and may even enhance them.
- Improving stability of the grid. Generation can sometimes provide too much energy for the grid to handle. In order to keep the grid stable, ramp-rates are controlled. By adding battery storage systems, generation can be added or removed quickly, keeping the grid stable and not curtail power output within the grid.
- Providing load and generation to the system or grid. This is generally accomplished by ramping generation assets up and down, which is time consuming. Utilizing energy stored in batteries provides the ramp-up within seconds, saving time and money.
- Utilizing assets more efficiently and reducing peak power problems. Peak power usually varies by length of the peak and how much power is used during peak times. Companies have spent billions on power plants that only provide for peak energy needs. The use of storage batteries can reduce uncertainty through providing the peak needs on demand as opposed to using estimates.
- Improving grid resilience and power quality. Battery systems can provide a “peace-of-mind” back-up plan in the event of long-term power outages. This back-up plan provides resiliency to the grid and allows for utilities to fix problems on their systems while still providing reliable energy.
The issue with these storage mechanisms is how to classify them. This can be confusing due to the various issues they can resolve and where exactly to classify the asset on financial statements. Energy storages systems are intelligennt systems and can act like energy grid computers and control systems.These can be a potential benefit to utilities and help them provide safe and reliable energy service to their customers, which makes energy storage a valuable asset to any utility that decides to move in that direction.
John Jung. Energy Storage: The Utility’s Best Friend. Public Utilities Fortnightly. March 2015 Edition.