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Texas publicly-owned utility goes big on energy storage

The Younicos Y Cube to be featured in East Austin. Source: Younicos

Austin Energy, a publicly-owned electric utility in Texas, is delivering megawatt-scale storage systems as part of the US Department of Energy’s Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV (SHINES) project.

The programme’s goal is to reduce the cost of electricity from combined solar and storage projects to below US$0.14/kWh.

By being proactive on energy storage under this DOE-funded initiative, Austin Energy will offer its commercial customers options to reduce energy costs while simultaneously providing a reliable energy storage resource for the grid.

“Integrating energy storage with solar is becoming essential as we achieve the City of Austin’s goal of 55% renewable energy by 2025,” said Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy general manager. “The Austin SHINES program is more than a technical pilot; it’s phase one of a larger rollout to maximize the value of distributed energy resources for our customers and the utility. Ultimately, it’s about testing innovative technologies that could have long-term benefits.”

Stem

The first project under the initiative is by intelligent energy storage provider Stem Inc., who is developing an aggregated fleet of customer-sited storage systems. The project will integrate both solar and energy storage to increase grid performance and reliability. Stem’s software-driven storage can enable businesses to reduce energy costs by reducing their peak demand. Where a business has on-site solar PV systems, Stem’s software and analytics tools will automatically manage those customers’ use of grid-supplied electricity against their solar production.

“Austin is a hub of sustainability and we are thrilled to be working with Austin Energy on this project,” said John Carrington, CEO of Stem. “We think all of Texas will be watching to see how aggregated energy storage can cost-effectively deliver multiple values to customers, utilities, and grid operators alike.”

Younicos

Younicos is also partnering with Austin Energy under the programme to deliver a 1.75MW/3.2MWh system, located in East Austin for both residential and commercial buildings. This will use the company’s Y.Cube system and will be managed by Younicos’ Y.Q software platform. The seven Y.Cubes and Y.Converters represent the company’s largest Y.Cube deployment in the US to date.

The Y.Cube systems will provide storage capabilities as part of a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) that will maintain grid reliability while also enabling energy loads to be delivered at the lowest possible cost with high penetration levels of distributed PV generation. Much like Stem’s project, Younicos’s sytems will optimise battery performance in combination with solar.

“We are keeping Austin weird – and energized,” said Stephen L. Prince, CEO of Younicos. “The SHINES project is the perfect showcase for an alternative, distributed energy system with resources like energy storage providing resiliency and security. Our Y.Cube is ideal for this application – offering the best in battery storage, intelligent control, system performance and safety in a compact form factor. We’re very pleased to partner with Austin Energy and Doosan GridTech on this innovative project.”