New 5 MW Lithium-Ion Energy Storage System for Intermittent Renewable Energy Sources

(The following article was written by Nathan and originally published in Clean TechnicaImage Credit: Portland General Electric.

Editors Note: The principle obstacle to renewable energies becoming the world’s main power supply is their intermittent nature. When we can store surplus energy for weeks, instead of hours, that obstacle largely disappears.)

A new, state-of-the-art, 5 MW lithium-ion energy storage system was recently unveiled in South Salem, Oregon. The new energy storage system — which is a demonstration project — will allow the storage of the excess electricity occasionally produced by some intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, as well as providing other services.

Image Credit: Portland General Electric

The energy storage system is integrated with a localized power zone — a microgrid — which means that about 500 customers in the area will be able to retain power even during regional electrical blackouts. The microgrid, and the new energy storage system, are both a part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project — a project designed with the intention of testing out innovative technologies and energy solution methods in the real world, and potentially spurring their wide-scale adoption.

“The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project is a successful public-private partnership involving 17 organizations across five Northwest states,” said Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary for DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, which oversees regional smart grid demonstration projects. “It is a highly innovative project demonstrating transactive energy management, which is a promising, cost-effective way to integrate variable renewable energy, energy storage and demand response at scale. The celebration of the Salem Smart Power Center makes it clear that Oregon is helping to lead the way on energy storage commercialization and grid modernization.”

The 5 MW lithium-ion energy storage system was developed by Portland General Electric as part of its contribution to the Battelle-led Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Half of the facility’s development cost of $23-million-dollars was covered by the US Department of Energy. As a whole, the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project is a five-year, $178-million project that launched in 2010.

The press release gets into the specifics of the new system:

 

The energy storage system will respond to regional grid conditions with the help of a key aspect of the demonstration called transactive control. Transactive control is based on technology from DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is managed by Battelle. The technology helps power producers and users decide how much of the area’s power will be consumed, when and where. This is done when producers and users automatically respond to signals representing future power costs and planned energy consumption. The cost signals originate at Battelle’s Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center in Richland, Wash. They are updated every five minutes and sent to the project’s participating utilities, including PGE.

The automated signals allow project participants to make local decisions on how their piece of the smart grid project can support local and regional grid needs. Participants are now gathering data to measure how the signal can help deliver electricity more effectively, help better integrate wind power onto the power grid and more. The Salem battery will use the signal to coordinate its charge and discharge cycles with the power grid’s supply and demand.

The new energy storage system should give grid operators the information they need to design better, larger systems and offers a means of exploring different ways to integrate wind power with the grid.

Energy storage systems of a much-larger scale are currently in the planning stages in the Pacific Northwest — most utilizing relatively unconventional systems, such as underground compressed-air energy storage in porous rock, or abandoned mines. The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently released a comprehensive report on two particularly attractive sites for compressed air energy storage in Eastern Washington.

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