US storage research enabled by public-private partnerships in Indiana and New York

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Indiana's capital, Indianapolis, wtih 107MW of PV installed, was ranked fourth among US cities for solar generation capacity by Environment America as of the end of 2014. Image: Duke Energy facebook page.
Research into energy storage and related technologies has been given a boost in the US in the past few days, with a major utility company committing funding in Indiana for renewables integration and New York’s governor announcing the creation of a research facility.

Duke Energy, a major US utility, will contribute US$1 million of research funding for electricity storage to integrate renewables, while Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York said a public-private partnership between a university and the New York Power Authority would establish a smart grid research facility.

Duke Energy, headquartered in North Carolina and serving over seven million customers across a number of states, will fund research into solar and wind storage programmes at the Battery Innovation Center in Southern Indiana. The research will look at solar and wind integration using energy storage with particular regards to homes and communities.

Duke Energy said on its website that the US$1 million funding would see Indiana take a leadership role in energy storage. However the utility also disclosed that the move emerges out of a commitment made as part of a settlement to Indiana’s consumers. According to a number of reports, Duke had cost overruns and a number of other infractions in the building of a coal-fired plant and in settling with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), which represents consumer interests, has committed to the Battery Innovation Center funding.

According to a BIC representative, BIC will create a simulated grid on which to test the effectiveness of the solar-and-wind-integrating storage. BIC will look at different hardware, software and battery options. The project will also see two energy storage systems installed at Indiana schools, paired with renewable energy generation sources.

Indiana’s capital, Indianapolis, is ranked fourth among US cities for installed solar generation capacity by the end of 2014, according to figures released by nationwide advocacy group Environment America last week.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the new research facility a "major investment in the state's future". Image: wikimedia user: UpstateNyer, cropped from original by Pat Arnow.
Additionally, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week the creation of a research and development (R&D) facility to support the stability of the state’s electrical grid. The new facility, Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe), will be intended in part to support the transition away from centralised generation and transmission of energy. Behind the project is a partnership between the New York Power Authority and State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY).

According to a statement on the New York Governor’s official website, the centre will be a “world-class facility devoted to energy technology innovation and the rapid deployment of smart-grid technology”. Cuomo called it a “major investment in the state’s future”. Cuomo is apparently keen to harness the potential of private-public partnerships, with the commercialisation of any technologies developed as a priority alongside supporting transmission infrastructure resilience.

New York currently has an R&D, consultation and testing laboratory specifically for energy storage and battery-based technologies, opened by the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY BEST). The new centre announced by Governor Cuomo adds a broader examination of the grid network to state-wide priorities. Cuomo has long been an advocate of increased distributed generation and moving transmission and distribution away from the centralised “hub and spoke” system.

In a blog post for PV Tech Storage last year, Bill Radvak of American Vanadium wrote about Cuomo’s enthusiasm for a “fundamental transformation” of the state’s energy networks.

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