I attended the 2010 Electric Storage Conference in Charlotte earlier this month. This was the 20th Anniversary of the event and was hosted by Duke Energy. Electric Storage covers a broad range of storage technologies including flywheel, compressed-air energy storage, battery (self-contained and from electric vehicles), and pumped hydro. The interest in storage technologies has grown as Smart Grid investment, renewable energy and decentralized power systems have increased in popularity and feasibility.
Other than Internet research, this was my first experience with electric storage and, as you would expect, there was a lot to take in. I came away with 4 key points.
#1 – There are multiple technologies that operate in this space and each seems to fill a specific market segment. The market is divided into three segments – Power Quality, Bridging Power, and Energy Management. The Electric Storage Association provides a good overview of the various technologies through their web-site. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates the total market capacity by 2030 can reach 29 GW (23 GW at $700/kw, 6 GW at $1,400/kw).
#2 – The value of the electric storage is broad and depends on many factors. It is impossible to talk about the value of each technology in a single blog post, but energy storage can positively affect generation, transmission and distribution (T&D), Smart Grid and the end Customer. Since Colfax primarily focuses on utility scale generation, I’ll list some of the discussed areas where Storage could be valuable: peak generation replacement, intermediate generation deferral, ancillary service generation replacement and intermittent generation smoothing. You’ll note that implementation of storage technologies would likely lead to capital deferment or elimination. In a future post, I‘ll discuss comments from the Electric Power Show where keynote panelists talked about $700B+ in capital that utilities will need to spend in the next 20 years.
You may also want to check the EPRI’s web-site as they plan to publish a white paper primer on applications, costs and benefits of electric storage.
#3 – Without recognition within our national energy policy, the opportunities will be spotty. Of course, a national energy policy is also mixed with regional/local decisions, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is responsible for the US energy policy and has strategic influence over regional commissions. Senator Ron Wyden is an advocate for Energy Storage and has openly challenged FERC’s exclusion of energy storage from their recent strategic plan. He spoke briefly to the audience about his work to influence FERC.
#4 - Electric storage technologies are here to stay. It was interesting to hear the conference organizers talk about the initial Electric Storage conferences when only 20 – 50 people attended. (This year, I estimate that well over 2,000 people attended the event.) As mentioned previously, there will be many different technologies that fill this space. However, Duke Energy has classified Energy Storage as a strategic technology stating that “low-cost storage, when combined with economic renewable generation and Smart Grid capabilities can change our business model” with “low cost” in the $500/kw area.
If you are working in this space, you may want to look for funding available from the Recovery act. Here is a listing per state –