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4 min read

Battery Storage for Grid Support

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As the winter weather rolls in, Texans are reminded of deadly Winter Storm Uri. This 2021 storm saw widespread grid failure, exposing millions to the dangerous elements and resulting in 246 deaths. Without power systems in place to bring the energy grid back to life, thousands were left without electricity and clean water for weeks following the storm.

The reliability of our energy grid remains top of mind as we aim to lower our emissions and see inconsistent climate patterns. How can we achieve the ability to add additional power to the grid as needed? Utility-scale battery storage.

This blog will discuss the role that large-scale battery storage systems will play in the support of our power grid, especially during harsh weather or other fluctuations. We will also take a quick look at how battery systems support the electric grid and how automation tools can streamline the process of getting them up and running faster.

While a full treatment of how energy storage technologies work is beyond the scope of this article, we encourage you to learn more about battery energy storage and the attendant cost associated with storage development.

Potential Challenges to the Power Grid

During the winter months, solar power begins to produce less electricity, increasing non-renewable electricity demand. Though our nation is aiming to rely less and less on fossil fuels, our inability to optimize renewable energy threatens our grid, leaving policymakers and developers concerned for public safety.

It is frightening to consider how vulnerable we might be to storms and other eventualities, especially as Texas – still reeling from its last disaster – can already expect more challenges from the upcoming unseasonably cold winter.

Very likely, the coming years will bring stresses to our power supply, such as:

  • Transmission losses: Moving energy over large distances results in major losses of efficiency, but we’ll need to be able to do so to meet regular and peak demand power capacity using renewables. Optimizing transmission is a necessary focus in the coming years.
  • Cyberattacks: Now that grids are dependent on digital technology, they are vulnerable to attacks from hackers, which could potentially expose millions of Americans to the devastating effects of long-duration outages.
  • EV charging: While electric vehicles are a major tool in fighting climate change, the current power requirements of a single charge are daunting – equal to “the launch of 70 air-conditioning units at once,” says Fuergy. While Tesla and its competitors take center stage, electric cars are beginning to claim their rations of our energy grid.
  • Inconsistent climate: As our climate continues to shift, power usage will become unpredictable. The drastic ebb and flow of energy usage will stress our grid.

Happily, battery storage can help us respond to all of the above.

Battery Storage System in Practice

Batteries aren’t confined to the miniature scale of lithium-ion batteries seen in the modern American home. These batteries are large innovations that provide ancillary services for thousands of citizens at a time.

Grid-scale batteries are an increasingly available, rechargeable resource aiding our clean energy efforts. At the core of these battery technologies are flow batteries, large-scale lithium-ion batteries, and compressed air batteries, allowing renewable energy sources to continuously add energy to their storage banks.

Security and Ecology: Battery Storage for Energy Integration

The goal of battery storage for grid protection is simple: store energy typically lost during production, and grid operators can add these stored megawatt-hours (mwh) into the grid during times of peak usage, such as the 2021 winter storm.

Why does electricity storage matter for energy integration? Not only will it help remove the uneasiness felt during severe weather and seasonal changes, but increasing battery storage results in lower costs for renewable electricity and greater security and safety.

While wind and solar energy are at the forefront of our fight against climate change, we produce more clean energy than we can use at a time. The energy that isn't used is lost if not stored. This flaw makes these energy resources a more limited commodity, leading to higher costs.

Additionally, these technologies are subject to drops in production due to seasonality and weather patterns. While wind turbines and solar power plants generate perfectly usable, green electric power, they will experience significant losses if we don’t have electricity storage to save it for a (literal) rainy day. We need extensive grid storage capacity to ensure that renewable electricity has somewhere to “go” when it’s not needed and can then back up the grid when it is – say, during peak demand or weather events that take traditional resources offline. 

That’s why the Department of Energy (DOE) considers energy storage capacity or “bi-directional electrical energy storage technologies” to be “a key component of the future-ready grid.”

The ability to store this power means more supply for the demand. The once limited resource can become more accessible for all, providing lower-cost electricity.

 

Multi-Use Land For Optimized Energy

As established, to retain the gigawatts of solar and wind power lost in production, we must complement these energy sources with proper storage. Incorporating battery storage systems on renewable energy sites makes rapid capture, increased transmission capacity, and optimized distribution a more feasible reality for developers. These complimentary technologies allow for fewer losses of renewable energy via transmission and a higher return for the developer.

Battery technology sharing a land parcel is becoming common in the green energy industry and is an anticipated renewable energy trend for 2024.

According to SEIA, in 2021:

  • 34% of proposed solar energy projects were paired with battery storage systems
  • 6% of natural gas projects were complimented by batteries

As more developers discover the power of pairing these technologies on a single site, the fight for land will become even more competitive. Finding a suitable site to host these resources is key for project success and rapid development to power our nation.

Transect: Shareable Desktop Reports for Utility-Scale Storage Developers

As utility-scale storage developers race to connect renewable energy storage to the grid, they need tools to facilitate smooth, efficient, and rapid project completion.

One of the most important tools to ensure energy storage projects get done on time? Automated environmental and risk assessment reports. Rather than waiting weeks to see whether a particular area is suitable for a storage facility, best-in-class tools such as Transect can provide a view from above before you ever sign a contract or break ground.

Transect accelerates storage development by providing automated site assessments in minutes. Renewable energy and storage developers can see environmental risks, soil features, substations and transmission lines on a site within minutes. Additionally, these reports can provide tax incentives and required permits for these projects. With this tool, developers can find a viable site for their storage project without sacrificing their budget.

Curious how you can get a ready-in-minutes shareable report for yourself? Sign up for a demo today.

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