The new year brings some good pieces of news on the energy storage front. If the first week of 2011 is any indication of trends to come over the next 12 months, there’s much to look forward to in the area of utility-scale energy storage.
Perhaps the biggest news (not in terms of scale but in terms of significance) is that the first utility-scale battery storage system in the U.S. is now in commercial operation. The system is an 8 MW lithium ion battery located in Johnson City, NY. The project, which is operated by AES Energy Storage, is operating simultaneously as a provider of frequency regulation services and load following, as well as customer electricity demand.
While there are dozens of MW of battery storage in various stages of development and testing in the U.S., the Johnson City installation makes history as the first one that is actually a full-fledged system playing in the natural gas dominated ancillary services market. The battery will compete alongside natural gas peakers to stabilize the New York Independent System Operator’s control area, which includes the entire state of New York. While the first phase of eight MW is in operation, plans are to phase in an additional 12 MW later this year.
The question of allowing batteries to play into ancillary services markets has been under examination over the last few years, as storage vendors have fought to allow their technologies to participate. FERC Order 890 made that a possibility, and only now, with the Johnson City Project, are batteries a part of the picture. Other non-battery storage technologies, such as Beacon Power’s flywheels, have been in operation on the grid providing ancillary services for some time. These storage technologies have advantages over traditional natural gas-based ancillary services including rapid response times and carbon neutral operation.
In other news, Xtreme Power, a Texas-based energy storage solutions company, announced a contract to provide energy storage and power management for the Kaheawa Wind Power II project in Hawaii. The project will be Xtreme Power’s fourth energy storage installation in Hawaii and its third project with Boston-based wind energy company First Wind. As in previous installations, this project will help integrate Hawaii’s wind energy resources with the grid.
At the other end of the storage spectrum, Gridflex Energy LLC just announced plans for five pumped hydro installations in Wyoming. The plants would increase the utilization rate of wind farms in the area for consumption in Wyoming and neighboring states. The total capacity of the five projects, if they all make it to operation, would be 1.9 GW with an energy storage potential of over 50 GWh.
No promises that the next few weeks will have as much buzz as the first week of the year, but 2011’s shaping up for a strong year for energy storage.
Article by Eric Bloom