Energy storage – why do we need it?

2012-11-28 - Delivery of power on demand depends on reliable energy stores to provide power bridges that support short-term gaps, safe shutdown and back-up needs
It’s not that energy storage is a whole new concept, it has, in fact, been an integral component of electricity generation, transmission and distribution systems for more than a century. Traditionally, energy storage needs have been met by physically storing fuels for fossil-fuelled power plants, and by using generated power in pumped hydro storage schemes.

Recently however, there has been a shift in the power landscape towards using and integrating renewable energy, mostly wind and solar energy. Although renewable power generation is more sustainable in the long run, the delivery of reliable power on demand remains a major challenge.

Wind and solar power installations are affected by seasonal and diurnal changes and can only generate power intermittently and with a highly variable output. This is where energy storage plays a crucial part in supporting the grid − when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, excess power should be stored and made available during both, suboptimal generating conditions and during peak demand.

Such fundamental changes in the architecture and controllability of the grid must be supported by smart, efficient power transmission and distribution networks. For these networks to deliver and distribute power efficiently, the storage of energy at appropriate times and locations becomes vital; both, to balance generation with consumption, and to maintain grid stability.

The right energy storage solution for the job

ABB has a long history of delivering energy storage solutions, including pumped hydropower schemes that go back over a century and more than a decade’s experience in battery energy storage systems.

Our technologies address a wide range of power needs from merely tens of kilowatts up to hundreds of megawatts, thus, utilities, industrial customers and rail operators around the world continue to deploy these technologies. These facilities help balance power demands and supplies, by stabilizing network voltages and frequencies, providing power bridges to support short-term gaps, and safe shutdown and back-up needs. Eventually, our solutions are designed to enhance flexibility, increase energy securities and minimize environmental impacts. Examples of our recent installations worldwide include Switzerland, Sweden and the UK.

Switzerland’s largest battery energy storage project

ABB recently commissioned the largest battery energy storage project of its kind in Switzerland with EKZ, a leading distribution utility and one of the largest energy companies in Switzerland. To provide additional power to the grid on demand, we supplied and installed a battery energy storage solution using Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that can provide one megawatt of power for a duration of 15 minutes.
The storage facility is integrated with EKZ’s power distribution network and is being used to evaluate performance in key areas such as balancing peak loads, intermittent power supply and the viability of the solution for grid optimization.

Battery energy storage increases the role of renewables in Sweden

Falbygdens Energi is a Swedish utility with a significant portion of wind power connected to the grid in the Swedish city of Falköping.

ABB was selected to supply an innovative dynamic energy storage solution, for the utility’s power distribution network, to maximize the integration of renewables into the power chain. For this project, we utilized our battery energy storage expertise to store locally produced energy from wind turbines to create a storage capacity of 75 kilowatts (kW) in cycles of up to 60 minutes. The stored energy will then be used to stabilize the grid and help balance peak loads during the day.

Dynamic energy storage installation in the UK

ABB recently worked with UK Power Networks, which supplies power to over eight million homes and businesses in the UK, to develop a dynamic energy storage solution. The installation enables renewable energy generated by local wind power plants to be fed into the power network when needed. It also ensures that some of the energy is kept in reserve to regulate power flow to compensate for the intermittence of wind power and to support power quality in the event of a fault.

To meet these needs, we implemented a turnkey DynaPeaQ® solution, incorporating SVC Light®, which included eight stacks of 13 Li-ion battery modules located in an 11 kV grid. Together, these high-power density modules can store up to 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electrical energy.

The installation provides dynamic voltage control in the distribution system and, at the same time, enables dynamic storage of surplus energy from the wind power plant. This surplus energy is used to level out peaks in grid loading to provide grid stability.