California utility buys NEC system to analyse value streams of grid storage

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An unnamed utility in California is preparing to test a grid storage system and look at the potential value streams it could provide, according to NEC Energy Solutions, which is providing the system.

As part of a programme to integrate distributed energy storage, the utility has awarded NEC with a contract to supply a 2.5MW, 3.9MWh lithium-ion battery system to a distribution circuit in California. The long duration (LD) grid storage system (GSS), will be used to assess various value streams storage could provide to the utility, as well as to ratepayers and other stakeholders.

Helen McInnes, NEC Energy Solutions spokeswoman, told PV Tech Storage that the customer has “declined to be named at this stage” but a follow-up announcement is expected once the system has been commissioned and data begins to be collected.

An NEC Energy Solutions containerised battery storage project in Hawaii, used for peak shaving. NECES acquired A123 Energy Solutions in May this year. Image: NEC Energy Solutions.
The potential for storage to perform multiple tasks along distribution and transmission networks, providing economic value to the storage operator, grid operator and others has long been talked about. In the US, for example, where electricity prices are set by peak demand, batteries can be used for dynamic load management, in addition to the possible benefit offered in being able to store solar or wind generated energy, for later dispatch.

The system will be used to limit loads dynamically, as well as provide voltage regulation. In addition to being used in the analysis of value streams offered by storage, the system will serve the dual purpose of helping the utility fulfil its mandate from the California Public Utilities’ Commission (CPUC) to install storage. CPUC has ordered the US state’s three main investor-owned utilities, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric to put 1.3GW of energy storage to grids by 2020 between them.

In April, NEC Energy Solutions was awarded a similar project for Enel in Italy and also completed six grid-tied energy storage systems in the UK for distributed network operator (DNO), Northern Powergrid, in June.

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