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Battery Array Systems Provide Grid Energy Storage

battery-array-systemsGrid energy storage is becoming an increasingly popular technology as the need to regulate volatile utility grids rises. Utility grids can only produce a limited amount of energy and high demand times can strain the grid, lead to blackouts, brownouts and surges. Recently, battery array systems at generation facilities have been developed to be used as an extra source of energy.

Battery arrays consist of hundreds of thousands of D-sized, sealed lithium batteries. The batteries are derivatives from those often used in hybrid vehicles. They also require no water or fuel usage and have zero emissions.

They work by connecting to power grids and responding to signals immediately to stabilize the power generation. While this can prevent the potential for an energy crisis, it is only currently available at five generation facilities nationally. Most recently, a sixth battery array system was announced to be developed in Ohio.

As the demand for energy fluctuates and people look to find ways to store it, battery arrays may be the answer. They can work during times when energy demand is higher than the supply available and can be activated by power grid signals. However, there is still a lot to be learned about just how much power can be stored and how efficient it can be.

In 2009, AES Energy Storage built a battery array system at an energy generator in Northern Chile. The system consists of 12MW and the power is continuously monitored. If the power supply becomes unstable or significant frequency deviation occurs, the system will immediately switch to the back-up battery.

But, according to AES, the 12 MW only restores full power for 20 minutes. During those 20 minutes it is expected for the system operator to resolve the event or bring in stand-by units. It is unclear as to what type of stand-by units would be used.

The Ohio facility, Tait Generation Station, will be provided with an additional 40 MW of power by September 2013. How long the power can remain in full load using the system has not been disclosed, but the project itself has reached about $20 million. If there were to be an energy emergency where a full blackout occurs, the cost of lost production could easily surpass $20 million. Yet, there are other alternatives that could prevent energy failures.

For utilities that do not have battery array systems, demand response (DR) programs have been set up to avoid energy emergencies. Companies or large energy consumer enrolled in DR programs are given 24 hours notice to when energy supply is expected to be at its peak. They then reduce their energy during that time and prevent a possible crisis without a back-up energy system. Still, high demand times cannot always be predicted in time to activate a DR program. Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc. is one of the largest demand response providers in North America, helping commercial and industrial companies drive down their energy costs. Visit this page for more information on our demand response programs.

Battery Array systems offer a way to store energy to avoid emergencies without the need for reduction. While still being developed and perfected, they may become a standard source of back-up energy in the future. Like all new technologies, it will take time and trial before any definite conclusions can be made.

Emily Neimanis
Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.

Emily can be found on Google+.

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