Duke Energy Building Utility-Grade Energy Storage System at Retired Coal Plant

At the forefront of a rapidly evolving energy landscape, Duke Energy sees promise in using intelligent energy storage systems to enhance the efficiency, stability and resilience of U.S. electricity grids. The nation’s largest utility announced it will work with LG Chem, Greensmith and Parker Hannifin to build a grid-connected lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery storage system at the retired W.C. Beckjord coal-fired power plant in Ohio.

The 2-megawatt (MW) Li-ion battery storage and power management system will help maintain and regulate grid frequency for PJM, the regional independent grid operator responsible for assuring a steady flow of electricity across much of the eastern U.S. Duke declined to say how much it is investing in the system.

Completing the energy storage project in Ohio will bring Duke Energy’s total installed grid-connected battery storage capacity to 44-MW — 15 percent of the total in operation across the U.S. to date, highlighted Spencer Haynes, Beckjord project manager for Duke’s Commercial Portfolio from the 25th annual Energy Storage Association (ESA) conference, which took place in Dallas last May.

A Sign of Changing Times

LG Chem is supplying the advanced Li-ion batteries for the Beckjord project. Greensmith is to deliver an integrated intelligent energy storage control and analytics software platform, as well as integration services. Parker Hannifin will provide a 2-MW power conversion inverter, which gives the system a 1:1 energy-to-power ratio.

Slated for completion in late 2015, building the 2 MW Li-ion energy storage and power management system at Beckjord will bring the total grid-connected energy storage capacity at the site to 4-MW. Duke’s Commercial Transmission business unit teamed up with Toshiba International to install a 2-MW Li-ion battery storage system at Beckjord last year.

“Fast-responding energy storage is recognized for the tremendous benefits it provides to grid operations, because it can instantaneously absorb excess energy from the grid or release energy,” Phil Grigsby, Duke Energy’s vice president of commercial transmission stated. “Delivering that power in seconds, as opposed to a power plant that could take 10 minutes or more to ramp up, is the unique value the battery system provides to grid operators. This accurate and rapid response will help improve the overall reliability and economic efficiency of the grid.”

Grigsby also highlighted the potential for intelligent battery storage and power management systems to accelerate integration of renewable energy on to U.S. power grids. The grid-connected Li-ion battery storage and power management system Duke is building at Beckjord “demonstrates the capabilities of new technologies and the potential for future applications, such as large-scale integration of renewable energy onto the grid,” he said.

Duke’s Commercial Portfolio, for example, also includes a 36-MW advanced lead acid battery-based energy storage and power management system it built in 2012 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy at the Notrees Windpower Project in Texas. That system is one of the largest in the U.S.

“Given our energy utility background, we’re really focused on building utility-grade energy storage systems that will perform and meet our life-cycle expectations…These are emissions-free projects,” Spencer told REW during an interview.

Zeroing In on Utility-grade Energy Storage

As part of Duke’s Commercial Portfolio team, Spencer spoke with several vendors during the ESA conference, focusing on their technology roadmaps, as well as estimates of anticipated cost reductions, and not just for batteries. Duke’s team was looking to get a better handle on forecasts for anticipated cost reductions across the spectrum of equipment and components used in grid-scale energy storage and power management systems, including inverters, controls and analtyic software, Spencer elaborated.

“We’re looking at a range of technologies and providers, from flow to Li-ion [battery] manufacturers. Use of any one energy storage technology depends on the specific application,” Spencer noted. “Different types of advanced battery and energy storage systems are better suited for certain applications. They do different things. There’s a role for apples and oranges on different parts and aspects of the grid.”

“Right now we’re hearing and seeing costs coming down 10 percent every six months,” Spencer added.

Lead image: Blurred coal plant. Credit: Shutterstock.


  • Andrew reports on renewable energy, clean technology and other issues and topics from posts abroad and here in the US.

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