Storage is regarded as crucial for the integration of renewable energies enabling sources such as wind and solar to be available at any time of day, regardless of whether the sun is shining or the wind blowing.
Maximizing renewable energy
In order to improve the efficiency of small-scale home and community energy storage, Duke Energy is funding US$1 million in research at Southern Indiana’s Battery Innovation Center to study how battery storage can maximize renewable power sources such as rooftop solar panels and small wind turbines and integrate them into the electric grid.
Also participating is the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC). The initiative is part of a 2012 regulatory settlement between the OUCC and Duke Energy.
“Electricity is a unique commodity because it must be produced at the exact time it’s needed,” said Duke Energy Indiana President Doug Esamann. “Technology that can store energy is a way to advance renewable energy sources such as wind and solar which are clean, but not always available when power is needed. We believe the research can pay dividends for our customers in the future.”
Energy storage at schools
The project includes installing energy storage systems at two schools served by Duke Energy, preferably with renewable energy sources already on site. The systems will test the benefits of energy storage and serve as a living learning lab for students. The schools have not yet been selected.
After the project lab is created, the Battery Innovation Center expects to begin testing this fall. The school programmes will begin by winter, and testing will continue into 2016.
Some areas the project will study include:
• How renewable energy generated at homes and businesses can be stored and used at a later time to meet a home’s or community’s needs
• How energy storage can compensate for the effects of weather on renewable energy sources.
• How storage systems can serve as a backup source of energy if there are supply shortages or disruptions on the electric grid.
"At the heart of energy security is having renewable energy available based on demand as opposed to only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing," said Battery Innovation Center president David Roberts. "We'll be able to simulate the electric grid with this project and evaluate hardware and battery options while improving the software that controls smaller-scale renewable generation."
Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler, added: “Promoting the reliability of renewable resources into the energy mix when needed is a crucial element in enhancing the quality of everyone’s daily lives. The Center’s research will put consumers a step closer to that reality, which will be good for residential customers, our schools and businesses alike.”