From both a regulatory and development perspective, 2018 was a significant year for the expansion of energy storage resources (ESRs). From a significant ruling of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to the presentation and implementation of aggressive state initiatives, rapid ESR deployment continues unabated while ESR technology costs continue to decline precipitously.
Undeniably, ESRs have arrived as a credible, useful component of a resilient and efficient grid. This article explores common ESRs and how they contribute to grid stability, the FERC’s impact on the development of markets to compensate ESRs, and how states are playing a pivotal role in advancing the development of ESRs.
ESRs and the Grid
An electric storage resource is defined by FERC as “a resource capable of receiving electric energy from the grid and storing it for later injection of electricity back to the grid regardless of where the resource is located on the electrical system.” Common examples of ESRs include batteries, pumped storage facilities, and compressed air energy storage.
Because ESRs have the flexibility to consume or inject electricity, they can be used by grid operators and market administrators to balance supply and demand efficiently. Generally, grid operators identify the ability of ESRs to shift load as a consumer when load is low and as a supplier when load is high. ESRs can help manage peak demand, manage the integration of intermittent resources (such as solar and wind facilities), and defer distribution and transmission upgrades.
Because of their ability to store energy for later deployment, ESRs have the capability to mitigate demand during peak consumption periods. Additionally, because certain ESRs have the ability to ramp up and down rapidly in response to grid requirements, they are particularly useful in assisting grid operators in integrating increasing levels of intermittent, renewable sources of power.
Resources such as solar and wind do not have defined production patterns, and often they need to be curtailed for economic reasons. ESRs have the capability to flatten the production curve for such resources, thereby enhancing grid reliability.
Finally, ESRs can help operators manage transmission congestion. Grid operators are often confronted by congestion in areas of the grid that lack sufficient transmission infrastructure, particularly during peak periods. During such periods, lower-cost resources may not be able to be dispatched to serve load. ESRs strategically located on the uncongested side of that constrained transmission interface can ameliorate reliability issues.
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