RenewEconomy has a special edition on Energy Storage and tells us that NYC transit authority has installed a huge on-site energy storage system as part of an effort to cut its energy consumption by ‘increasing its smarts and shaving peak electricity use’.
The MTA is using three CellCube vanadium flow batteries, of German design, that will store energy from the grid during cheap off-hours rates and draw from the battery when rates are high, ensuring resiliency in case of grid disruptions.
CellCube batteries are mostly marketed as off-grid and remote renewable energy storage solutions, for integrating on site energy storage systems with solar and other renewables.
NYC utility ConEdison – a partner in the project – is hoping to:
“gain a better understanding of the potential for using distributed energy storage to balance loads and thus reduce the need to build more costly capacity and ‘poles and wires’ as demand grows – something Australian utilities don’t seem to have cottoned on to yet…
if you can economically store a significant amount of energy on the 25th floor of a skyscraper, you can do it just about anywhere.”
Ergon is planning to set energy storage capacity targets out to 2020, moving its business model away from a reliance on poles and wires. CEO Ian McLeod believes solar and storage are likely to offer cheaper options for some of its consumers than remaining connected to the grid.
It ‘makes sense’ for some customers to produce the energy where they use it, the challenge being to provide a service that combines localised generation, energy storage, demand management and centralized generation.
“We see our new business model as connecting those things.”
The developers of the new privately owned Toowomba Airport have asked Ergon if they can use their own internal network, generating and storing electricity on site, and using the main grid only as a back-up.
On Magnetic Island, where a successful solar trial deferred a grid upgrade for several years, Ergon is considering installing a ‘mobile storage’ unit that would allow the grid upgrade (a new link to the mainland) to be deferred for even longer.
Ian McLeod says storage and ‘islanding grids’ makes sense in regional areas where ‘thin lines’ are not economic to upgrade and strengthen, and alternative technologies are now competitive.
“The key for the network operators is to ensure that the price to connect is not prohibitive. He believes that most houses would need a large enough battery to provide for 20kWh of usage. That’s about the size of the battery powering the Tesla electric vehicles, but that is not likely to get to a point where it is economic for households until around 2022. (Tesla has plans to build the world’s first gigawatt factory to bring down costs).”