Monday, December 19, 2011

A123 Systems and NSTAR to Launch Advanced Energy Storage Pilot Project

A123 Systems (Nasdaq: AONE), a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate lithium ion batteries and systems, announced that it is launching a pilot project with NSTAR to study and showcase the performance and reliability benefits of implementing A123's Grid Storage Battery (GBS) within a suburban electric grid. The system, NSTAR's first battery energy storage project, is proposed for installation at a substation in Medway, Mass. and is expected to be operational in 2012.

"We’re very interested in learning more about how advanced energy storage can help continue to improve electric service reliability for our customers," said Lawrence Gelbien, vice president of engineering at NSTAR. "Launching this pilot project with A123 will allow us to gain invaluable hands-on experience with clean, efficient energy storage technology and, ultimately, it will help determine how we can utilize larger-scale energy storage projects on our system."

Under the terms of the agreement, one of A123's two-megawatt (2MW) GBS solutions is proposed to be interconnected to the power grid at NSTAR's substation in Medway. It will be owned and operated by A123, and will be designed to provide area regulation services, which are used to address momentary differences between electric power supply and demand. A123 expects to earn revenue from these area regulation services from ISO-New England (ISO-NE) as part of the Alternative Technology Regulation (ATR) Pilot Program, which allows "non-generating resources" such as advanced energy storage systems to receive compensation for area regulation and other ancillary services. In addition, the pilot project is expected to allow A123 to learn more about how its GBS performs in real-world applications in order to facilitate further product improvements designed to reduce total cost of ownership.  

"Working with leading utilities like NSTAR enables us to showcase the economic and operational viability of our advanced GBS solutions and helps to further validate our position as the leading provider of storage technology for electric grid services," said Robert Johnson, vice president of the Energy Solutions Group at A123 Systems. "We expect that this pilot project will allow us to demonstrate how energy storage can generate revenue for area regulation services. Further, we believe that owning and operating our own real-world storage system will allow us to enhance our product offerings to continue delivering cost-effective, efficient solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing grid infrastructure and technologies."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NREL Reports on Value of CSP with Thermal Energy Storage

A new report, Enabling Greater Penetration of Solar Power via the Use of CSP with Thermal Energy Storage, published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says concentrating solar power (CSP) plants with thermal energy storage (TES) can dispatch power even during periods of high demand or reduced solar output. This flexibility could boost the use of other types of renewable energy, such as solar photovoltaic (PV)or wind power, that are generated intermittently, the report notes.

Authors Paul Denholm and Mark Mehos describe how CSP systems with TES address the challenges anticipated as greater levels of variable resources, such as PV and wind, are integrated into the Western Interconnect, the major power grid that extends from western Canada, south to Baja California in Mexico, and eastward over the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains.

There are two major challenges to economically integrating such variable and uncertain resources into the grid. One is the mismatch between when the sun shines, or the wind blows, and when there is a demand for energy. To address this obstacle, CSP with TES can shift energy production to periods of high demand or reduced solar or wind output.

A second challenge is the limited flexibility of conventional generators, such as fossil-fueled power plants, to accommodate variable generation resources, like PV and wind. In this case, CSP with TES can provide substantial grid flexibility by rapidly changing output, via higher ramp rates, in response to the highly variable net load created by high penetration of solar and wind generation.

The report describes how NREL examined the degree to which CSP may complement PV by performing a set of simulations in the U.S. Southwest. The results indicate the general potential of CSP with TES to enable greater use of solar generation, including additional PV.

The authors state that the preliminary analysis performed in their work will require more advanced grid simulations to verify the actual ability of CSP to act as an enabling technology for other variable generation sources. An important next step will include complete production simulations, using utility-grade software, which consider three things: the realistic performance of the generation fleet, transmission constraints, and actual CSP operation.