$620 Million for Smart Grid and Energy Storage Projects will spur Renewables

Grid Energy Storage for Wind PowerBy John Addison (11/24/09)

The Department of Energy awarded today $620 million for projects around the country to demonstrate Smart Grid technologies and integrated systems that will help build a smarter, more efficient, and more resilient electrical grid. Electric cars will be smart charged and lithium batteries reused in some grid demonstrations. Secretary Chu today announced the 32 projects which include large-scale energy storage which will enable wind and solar power to be delivered when needed.

The projects also include smart meters, distribution and transmission system monitoring devices, and a range of other smart technologies that facilitate deploying integrated Smart Grid systems on a broader scale. Smart Grids will allow electric vehicles to be charged at lower rates when energy demand is down; charging will match car owner preferences, independent of when they are connected for smart charging.

The funding awards are divided into two topic areas.  In the first group, 16 awards totaling $435 million will support fully integrated, regional Smart Grid demonstrations in 21 states, representing over 50 utilities and electricity organizations with a combined customer base of almost 100 million consumers.  The projects include streamlined communication technologies that will allow different parts of the grid to “talk” to each other in real time; sensing and control devices that help grid operators monitor and control the flow of electricity to avoid disruptions and outages; and on-site and renewable energy sources that can be integrated onto the electrical grid. For example:

  • Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project – Spanning five states and affecting more than 60,000 consumers, demonstrate and validate new smart grid technologies; provide two-way communication between distributed generation, storage, and demand assets and the existing grid infrastructure; and advance interoperability standards and cyber security approaches.
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Smart Grid Regional Demonstration – deploy smart grid systems at partners’ university campus properties and technology transfer laboratories. The projects will also include gathering data on how consumers use energy in a variety of systems, testing on the next generation of cyber security technologies, and how to integrate a significant number of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles onto the grid.
  • Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration – With Southern California Edison as the lead, this will demonstrate an integrated, scalable system that includes all of the interlocking pieces of an end-to-end Smart Grid – from the transmission and distribution systems to consumer applications like smart appliances and electric vehicles.

In the second group, an additional 16 awards for a total of $185 million will help fund utility-scale energy storage projects that will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the grid, while reducing the need for new electricity plants. Improved energy storage technologies will allow for expanded integration of renewable energy resources like wind and photovoltaic systems and will improve frequency regulation and peak energy management.  The selected projects include advanced battery systems (including flow batteries), flywheels, and compressed air energy systems. For example:

  • Detroit Edison’s Advanced Implementation of A123s Community Energy Storage Systems for Grid Support – Demonstrate the use and benefits of Community Energy Storage (CES) systems for utilities and test the ability to integrate secondary-use electric vehicle batteries as part of the CES demonstration. Success of this demonstration could extend the lifecycle use of electric car batteries, and lead to lower lease and purchase costs of plug-in vehicles. This project will install 20 CES units, 25kW/2hr each, into a system that includes a 1 MW storage device integrated into a solar system.
  • Energy East Advanced CAES Demonstration Plant – New York State Electric & Gas Corporation will lead in using an Existing Salt Storage Cavern with lower cost 150 MW Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) technology plant using an existing salt cavern. The project will be designed with an innovative smart grid control system to improve grid reliability and enable the integration of wind and other intermittent renewable energy sources.
  • Wind Firming EnergyFarm™- Deploy a 25 MW – 75 MWh EnergyFarm for the Modesto Irrigation District in California’s Central Valley, replacing a planned $78M / 50 MW fossil fuel plant to compensate for the variable nature of wind energy providing the District with the ability to shift on-peak energy use to off-peak periods.

This funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be leveraged with $1 billion in funds from the private sector to support more than $1.6 billion in total Smart Grid projects nationally.

Secretary Chu said, “This funding will be used to show how Smart Grid technologies can be applied to whole systems to promote energy savings for consumers, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.”

Applicants say this investment will create thousands of new job opportunities that will include manufacturing workers, engineers, electricians, equipment installers, IT system designers, cyber security specialists, and business and power system analysts.

Description of all 32 Projects

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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability.

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