Tesla to FERC: Energy Storage, DERs Enhance Grid Resilience

Tesla last week stood up for energy storage and distributed energy resources (DER), telling the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it should consider these assets carefully as it looks to define what makes a resilient power grid.

In May 9 comments filed with FERC, Tesla said that, in the event of a threat to grid resilience, energy storage can prevent outages and DERs can continue to provide service to end users.

FERC is accepting comments from the public regarding grid resilience as part of a docket it opened in January after closing a docket to consider Secretary Rick Perry’s notice of proposed rulemaking to create market rules that ‘properly value’ coal and nuclear generation for their part in delivering resilience. As part of the proceeding, FERC is working to develop a common understanding of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires.

In its comments, Tesla highlighted several “real-world examples of energy storage and DERs providing resilient electric service to end-use customers, both directly and through maintaining the bulk power system.”

Tesla noted the benefits that the 100-MW/129-MWh Powerpack battery system at Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia has delivered to Australia’s National Energy Market. As a result of significant blackouts in South Australia in 2016 and 2017, Telsa was selected in a competitive bidding processes to build the project, which was commissioned last December.

The battery system, Tesla said, provides energy arbitrage; reserve energy capacity, as contracted by the South Australian government; frequency control ancillary services; and network loading control ancillary services, which detects high flows on a major interconnecting transmission line and triggers the battery to start discharging as quickly as possible to prevent the South Australia power system from separating from the rest of the national energy market.

In a recent report, the Australian Energy Market Operator said that data demonstrate that the regulation frequency control ancillary services provided by the system is “both rapid and precise, compared to the service typically provided by a conventional synchronous generation unit.” The report highlights the battery system’s rapid response to a frequency deviation caused by the trip of 689 MW of generation in New South Wales on Dec. 18, 2017.

Tesla, in its comments, also noted the value to the power grid of customer-sited solar-plus-storage systems during severe weather events.

Among the examples given were the numerous Tesla Powerwall customers in Florida that maintained power at their homes throughout the grid outages that occurred during Hurricane Irma.

“Customer-sited solar and storage, which Tesla is installing throughout the world at individual customers’ homes, also offer customers resiliency in the form of back-up power when the grid is down,” Tesla said. “When there’s a grid outage, Tesla’s Powerwall battery systems paired with solar systems immediately react to safely maintain power at customers’ homes so that they can operate important loads indefinitely, as the solar panels recharge the batteries daily.”

Tesla further highlighted the importance of solar and storage microgrids for critical facilities, such as hospitals and community centers, to provide resilient electric infrastructure.

“Microgrids that rely on renewable energy sources and energy storage units support continued operations even when there is extreme damage to transmission, distribution, and central-station generation, as occurred recently in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria,” Tesla said.

In response to the devastation to Puerto Rico’s bulk power system due to Hurricane Maria last September, Tesla deployed 1.5 MW of Powerpack battery systems at critical sites in Puerto Rico to provide power. In Montones, Puerto Rico, Tesla said, the company’s microgrid is providing power to the remote community, where grid power had not been restored as of May 8. An additional 650 Powerwalls installed at homes across the island provide off-grid functionality.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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