Elevate Renewables stated today that as a result of the escalating demand for available electricity, it believes that significant transmission upgrade investment is needed at major U.S. power plants, especially within load pockets, and that energy storage can help defray these costs for ratepayers.
“Our domestic power plants are staring down at a tsunami of demand from several channels. Whether it is a result of population growth, technological advancements, the electrification of energy, transportation, climate control, or behavioral changes, significant transmission upgrade investment is essential to ensure the reliability, flexibility, and sustainability of the U.S. electrical grid,” stated Eric Cherniss, Elevate Renewables’ founder and head of development.
“We believe that private investment in energy storage is an efficient and logical solution to mitigate the cost of increasing demand on our electric power infrastructure. Not only does energy storage facilitate our national clean energy initiative as well as help de-carbonize the grid, but a non-wires alternative will also be significantly cheaper for the ratepayer,” added Cherniss.
Privately-owned energy storage can complement existing and future renewable energy sources by storing excess renewable energy when generation exceeds demand and injecting it into the grid when needed, thereby enhancing grid reliability, and reducing emissions of the existing thermal fleet as it moves to provide a backup for the renewable grid.
Cherniss cites two recent examples of just how much capital is required for necessary transmission upgrades. “PJM just directed Exelon to spend $785 million in transmission upgrades to maintain reliability at the retiring Brandon Shores power plant, located near Baltimore MD. If a BESS resource was put in its place, we estimate that this number would be cut by 40-60%. This would be a prime example of where energy storage should be encouraged and incentivized to co-locate with existing or replace retiring thermal generation.”
“The Brandon Shores transmission upgrades are cheap as compared to what happened in California when San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station retired. For that project, CAISO planned to spend $2.3 billion on the necessary reliability upgrades.”
When combining the aging infrastructure of our nation’s power plants with the increasing demand for electricity, and more specifically for clean renewable electricity – battery storage plays a crucial role in mitigating the challenges and costs associated with that dire situation in several ways:
Load Balancing and Grid Stabilization: Battery storage systems can help balance the supply and demand of electricity by storing excess energy during periods of low demand and releasing it during high-demand periods. This load-balancing function reduces strain on the grid, preventing overloads and blackouts.
Peak Shaving: Power grids often experience peak demand during specific times of the day or year. Battery storage can provide additional electricity during these peak periods, reducing the need to build more power plants or upgrade grid infrastructure. This can lead to cost savings and reduce the strain on aging grid components.
Voltage and Frequency Regulation: Batteries respond rapidly to changes in voltage and frequency. They can help maintain grid stability by injecting or absorbing power as needed to keep these parameters within acceptable limits. This is especially important in grids with a high share of intermittent renewable energy sources.
Grid Resilience: Aging power grids are more susceptible to disruptions from extreme weather events, equipment failures, and cyberattacks. Battery storage systems can serve as a backup power source, ensuring a continuous supply of electricity to critical infrastructure and minimizing downtime during outages.
Integration of Renewable Energy: Battery storage facilitates the integration of variable renewable energy sources like wind and solar into the grid. It stores excess energy when generation exceeds demand and releases it when generation is insufficient. This enhances grid reliability and reduces the need for additional fossil fuel backup power plants.
Grid Deferral: Instead of investing in costly grid upgrades and infrastructure replacement, utilities can use battery storage to defer these investments. By strategically placing batteries in areas with high grid congestion or aging infrastructure, utilities can relieve stress on the grid and delay the need for extensive renovations.
Reduced Line Losses: Energy transmitted over power lines incurs losses due to resistance. Battery storage located closer to consumers can reduce these transmission and distribution losses by supplying electricity directly to the local grid, improving overall grid efficiency.
Demand Response: Battery storage can participate in demand response programs. During periods of high demand or grid stress, batteries can discharge power to reduce the load on the grid, helping to stabilize the system and avoid blackouts.
Voltage Support: Batteries can provide voltage support by injecting or absorbing reactive power as needed. This helps maintain voltage levels within acceptable limits, which is critical for grid reliability.
Grid Planning and Optimization: Battery storage systems can be strategically deployed to optimize grid operations. Advanced control algorithms can be used to determine the most effective use of batteries, considering factors such as grid conditions, energy prices, and demand patterns.
Battery storage is a versatile tool that enhances the resilience, reliability, and efficiency of aging power grids. By addressing some of the inherent challenges of older grid infrastructure, battery storage helps modernize and future-proof the electricity delivery system while accommodating the integration of renewable energy sources and improving overall grid performance.