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Energy Storage: It's Not Just Load Leveling Anymore

Fortnightly Magazine - August 1998

control and voltage regulation.

ISLAND POWER SYSTEMS (BACKUP GENERATION). Energy storage systems offer a cleaner, less polluting alternative to diesel engine systems that must operate continuously to handle power fluctuations. On an Indian reserve located on an island in southeast Alaska, DOE assisted the local utility, Metlakatla Power & Light, in designing a storage system to displace a diesel generator installed to handle large load spikes caused by a local lumber mill. The state-of-the-art 1.4-MWh VRLA battery system developed by GNB Technologies has greatly reduced fuel costs and improved power quality for the island's residents.

GRID SYSTEMS (PEAK SHAVING). The commercial success of a photovoltaic storage system developed by Omnion Power illustrates the opportunities for smaller-scale, grid-connected systems. The PV-31 is an integrated 31-kW/40-minute battery storage system co-developed by Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. for use with 30-kW photovoltaic arrays. The system provides peak shaving capability by storing 40 minutes of photovoltaic-generated electricity. A commercial-scale version of this system would allow customers to avoid expensive peak electricity purchases by charging the battery from the photovoltaic generation or from off-peak power purchased from the utility.

HYBRID SYSTEMS (COMMUNICATIONS). Hybrid power systems that integrate renewables with fossil generation and energy storage meet the needs of remote facilities. The Department of Defense, which spends about $1 billion a year on electricity for off-grid facilities, is promoting development and installation of these systems. A 1986 study found 21,000 potentially cost-effective projects in this category for 33 application categories. By 1992, the DOD had installed more than 2,000 systems with about 2 MW of PV generation. Most of these systems were used for lighting and communications applications. %n9%n Since 1992, the DOD has invested $28 million for 124 systems that represent 2.1 MW of PV generation capability. %n10%

Christine E. Platt, Ph.D., is program manager of the Energy Storage Systems Program for the U.S. Department of Energy. Jonathan W. Hurwitch is executive director of the Energy Storage Association.

1 Washington International Energy Group,. 1998 Electric Industry Outlook, Washington, D.C., January 1998.

2 Ibid.

3 Proceedings of the Energy Storage Technologies for Utility Network Optimization Conference and Workshop, EA Technologies, Capenhurst, Chester, UK, April 1996.

4 Jason Makansi, "Electricity 'Storage' Pumps Up Power Marketing," Power Magazine, May/June 1998.

5 Frost & Sullivan, Battery Energy Storage Market Feasibility Study, September 1996.

6 Calculated from: R.L. Hammond; J.F. Turpin; G.P. Corey.; T.D. Hund; S.R. Harrington; Photovoltaic Battery and Charge Controller Market and Applications Survey, Sandia National Laboratories (SAND96-2900), December 1996.

7 The Energy Storage Association ( also has produced a library of reports, articles, videos and company information on these efforts.

8 C.A. Hampton, R.O. Winter, 1992 Distributed Battery Survey: Results and Analysis. Pacific Gas and Electric, San Ramon, Calif., April 1993.

9 R.N. Chapman, "Photovoltaics in the Department of Defense," Sandia National Laboratories Quarterly Vol. 1, March 1997.

10 General Accounting Office, Federal Research: Changes in Electricity-Related R&D Funding, (GAO/RCED-96- 203), August 1996.


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