Smart Grid Project In Texas Will Test Utility-Scale Energy Storage For Wind Power

Wind power is the cheapest option for new electricity in many, many places now. Partly due to that, more power capacity was added in the U.S. last year from wind than from any other power source. And the U.S. isn’t the only place it’s been growing — it saw 20% growth worldwide last year.

This is all great news, since the energy payback time for a wind turbine beats basically every other power technology (chart below), and wind power is critical to addressing global warming, climate change, air pollution, and water use and pollution.

energy payback time

Anyway, that all just sets the stage for the focus of this article. At grid penetration levels today, wind power is a big help, but as its share of the grid grows, the fact that wind turbines only produce electricity when it’s windy enough to do so lowers wind power’s value (it would increasingly be producing electricity when not needed). Additionally, electricity is most needed during the day (which is why solar power is so valuable), while wind blows the most at night.

So, the challenge is to find or produce energy storage systems that are cheap enough that electricity from wind turbines can be stored for later use and still be cheaper than alternatives (e.g. solar or natural gas). A new pilot project in Texas is working on this. Here’s more from Samsung:

Samsung SDI, an affiliate of Samsung Group, and Xtreme Power, a privately held Austin, TX company, [last week] announced that they have been selected by the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies (CCET) to install a 1MW/1MWh Lithium Ion based Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) system at the Reese Technology Center in Lubbock, Texas as part of a Smart Grid Demonstration Project (SGDP). The $27 million demonstration project jointly funded by CCET partners and the US Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 managed by CCET. The SGDP is known asDiscovery Across Texas, Technology Solutions for Wind Integration in ERCOT.  BESS will be owned and operated by South Plains Electric Cooperative (SPEC) as one of several project technologies to serve the SGDP objectives of wind integration.

The Samsung SDI and Xtreme Power BESS will be connected to SPEC’s distribution grid at the Reese Technology Center as part of an ongoing wind technology program managed by GroupNIRE and Texas Tech University.  The BESS will focus on combing utility scale energy storage with wind generation.  Potential uses for the BESS include mitigating intermittent fluctuations of a number of nearby wind turbines, regulating the distribution bus voltage, serving as spinning reserve, and providing frequency support during the loss of generation.

I’m curious to see how this goes, and if it leads to broader commercial utilization of this technology.

This is apparently the first time Samsung SDI and Xtreme Power have teamed up. “Coupling Samsung SDI’s Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO) battery with Xtreme Power’s Xtreme Active Control Technology™ (XACT™) the two firms have partnered to create an optimal energy storage solution for renewable integration and grid support,” Samsung adds.

Samsung leads the world in Lithium Ion battery sales. These are the batteries used in many of today’s electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, “Xtreme Power’s XACT platform is unmatched in its ability to provide high power output within fifty milliseconds accurately and precisely without infringing upon safety protocols.”

The end result: “This exclusive venture will enable Xtreme Power and Samsung SDI to offer a versatile product capable of not only enhancing the value of renewable generation, but also increasing the reliability of the electric grid.”

Exciting! Technology moves forward again.


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