Utilities in California and Ohio Test New Power Storage Technologies

March 17, 2010

Utilities in several states recently embraced new energy storage technologies as part of the deployment of advanced Smart Grids. In Ohio, International Battery will supply large-format lithium-ion batteries for the first-of-its-kind Community Energy Storage (CES) system, a distributed energy storage system developed by S&C Electric Company for American Electric Power (AEP). AEP Ohio's gridSMART Demonstration Project, funded in part by a $75 million DOE grant using Recovery Act funds, will be deployed to 110,000 of the utility's customers in a patchy rectangular area stretching from northeast Columbus to about 25 miles east and about 15 miles north. The CES systems will be added to certain AEP circuits in the gridSMART test area to provide improved distribution line efficiencies, local back-up power in case of outages, better integration of community renewable power, and support for plug-in electric cars. See the press releases from International Battery and S&C, as well as the gridSMART map from AEP Ohio.

AEP has also been testing the use of large-scale sodium-sulfur (NaS) batteries for energy storage on the grid. AEP installed a 1.2-megawatt (MW) NaS battery near Charleston, West Virginia, in 2006, followed by three 2-MW NaS batteries in Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia in 2008. California is following suit, as the California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded $2 million to Pacific Gas and Electric Company for a 36-month NaS battery demonstration project. The utility will invest an additional $13 million in the 4-MW system, which will have a 28 megawatt-hour storage capacity. Once installed and operating, this will be the largest stationary battery energy storage system in California. It too is seen as a key to the future use of Smart Grid technology, and as a way to integrate renewable energy sources into the grid. See the CEC press release.

And in the application of a different technology, the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) and Ice Energy announced in January a 53-MW project using ice energy storage to provide utility-scale distributed energy storage. Ice Energy's products produce ice during off-peak hours and use it for cooling commercial buildings during peak hours. By combining hundreds of these systems with the Smart Grid, the systems can work together to act as a large distributed energy storage system. The SCPPA project could shift as much as 64 gigawatt-hours of on-peak electrical consumption to off-peak periods every year, improving the reliability of the electrical grid. Installation of the Ice Energy storage systems will begin in the first half of this year and will be completed by 2012. The SCPPA agreement also allows other municipal utilities and agencies in Southern California to deploy similar systems. See the Ice Energy press release and technology description.