The tools that utilities are using to try to understand the value of distributed energy resources (DERs) such as batteries and solar PV along their grids was a hot topic in all five sessions in the Energy Storage Track at DistrbuTECH 2018.
Because the energy market is dynamic and because energy storage can serve as load or generation and also provide ancillary services that help firm up the grid — and PV plus smart inverters can act in a similar fashion (although they can’t serve as load) — it is incumbent on utilities to understand how best to deploy these assets in order to maximize their value.
Storage alone is costly and if used simply as back-up power or to time-shift PV, it’s nearly impossible to arrive at a return on investment that makes sense. That’s why more and more utilities are partnering with third-party vendors to test new tools and algorithms that can analyze the value of DERs through pilot projects in their territories.
One such utility is Austin Energy, a presenter in a DistribuTECH session called “All the Stacked Values of Energy Storage for the Grid,” which took place last week in San Antonio, Texas. Dan Smith, VP of Electric Service Delivery and Lisa Martin, Program Manager of Advanced Technologies, spoke about the Austin Energy SHINES program. The program, which stands for the sustainable and holistic integration of energy storage and solar PV, pairs solar and energy storage at three different locations along the utility value chain and uses a software system to optimize their value. The software tells the assets when to charge and when to deploy by taking into account spot market prices, weather forecasts, load forecasts and much more.
In the video below, Martin explains how it all works. Have a look.