Storage System Helps Chinese Manufacturer Manage its Renewables

China’s inherent need for new and innovative energy storage solutions continues to grow.
Published: Mon 24 Mar 2014

US advanced battery developer A123 Energy Solutions has commissioned a microgrid storage system for wind energy integration at China’s major power equipment manufacturer Dongfang Electric facility in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

The 500kW grid storage solution is connected to the microgrid at Dongfang Electric’s facility for renewable energy integration, including wind energy and solar power.

Optimizing energy consumption

The high rate grid storage solution is aimed at accommodating fluctuations in variable energy resources like wind or solar. In addition to this, the solution can be used to enhance the efficiency of traditional thermal generators.

The energy storage installation, which is A123 Energy's second deployment in China, is housed in one of the site's existing buildings. It follows China’s Ray Power Systems using a 2MW energy storage solution in July 2012, which is A123 Energy developed, for a project to regulate grid frequency.

A123 Energy Solutions president, Bud Collins, says the company’s control software technology also allows Dongfang Electric to use the microgrid storage system to manage its renewable and conventional power generation to optimise energy usage at the Hangzhou facility.

Mr Collins explains: "For this project, we needed to install energy storage in an existing building. The flexibility of our grid storage solution allowed us to accomplish just that, with no major modifications or special considerations around the building. In addition, our AEROS control software, developed solely by A123 Energy, allows our customer to use the storage system to manage its renewable and conventional generation, optimizing energy usage for the site.”

Energy storage in China responds to needs

The Chinese energy storage market is expected to grow at a 92% compound annual growth rate from 2012 to 2016, with annual sales reaching US$482 million in 2016. In 2016, the total installed capacity will exceed 750MW.

GTM Research report, China Grid-Scale Energy Storage Market 2012-2016, lists major issues driving the need for storage in China:

Renewable integration: Wind power has grown rapidly thanks to ambitious government targets and policies. The country is aiming for 20% renewable power by 2020. By the end of 2011, China had 47GW of grid-connected wind capacity, and the 12th Five-Year Plan calls for 100GW by the end of 2015. The 12th Five-Year Plan also calls for 15GW of solar capacity by 2015. However, China’s grid operators have been struggling to absorb wind power. In 2011, almost 17% of electricity produced in China’s top 10 wind power bases was curtailed.

Inflexible generation: By the end of 2011, coal-fired power plants accounted for over 65% of installed capacity and provided over 75% of China’s electricity. Large coal-fired power plants have long start-up times and require high minimum loads, and cannot be cycled (turned on and off) on a daily basis. This limits their ability to match large differences between peak and off-peak demand. In regions with high penetration of combined heat and power (CHP) plants, generation is even less flexible. Inflexible generation is a major contributor to wind power curtailment.

Load growth: From 2011 to 2015, China’s electricity consumption is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 7.5 to 9.5%. While power consumption continues to grow, investment in new generation -- especially in thermal generation -- has been in decline. This has led to increasing power shortages -- there is simply not enough new generation capacity coming on-line to meet growing demand. The China Electricity Council forecasts power shortages reaching 30GW to 40GW in 2012 and 70 gigawatts in 2013.

Changing load: Load in China is not only growing at a rapid pace, it is also becoming “peakier” as residential and commercial load rises more quickly than industrial demand. Though industrial demand will continue to dominate consumption, rising residential and commercial loads have already posed problems for grid stability. New economic reforms also focus on shifting the economy toward the commercial and advanced industrial sectors as opposed to energy intensive heavy industries. As the quality of life for China’s residents continues to improve, so will the adoption of air conditioning and other appliances along with the demands those loads place on the grid.

China's investment in renewable energy will be wasted if a suitable smart grid and infrastructure such as battery storage stations are not implemented. Those globally working on storage solutions should watch China very closely as its need for storage escalates.