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Storage as Transmission

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John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant, Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

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  • Jan 10, 2023
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Large battery energy storage systems (BESS) are not really generation systems, but they can strongly optimize many generation systems including intermittent renewables like photovoltaic (PV) and wind turbines. It is also not transmission, but can also optimize, and in some cases defer transmission upgrades.

I recently came across the following article regarding my home state (California).

“The California Public Utilities Commission is pushing forward two proposed battery energy storage facilities in Central California instead of upgrading existing nearby transmission lines, citing a lower cost for the battery storage projects...”

I researched the title issue and came across a really good DOE document on this issue, and the main subject of this post is a summary of that document.

Discussions
Charles Botsford, PE's picture
Charles Botsford, PE on Jan 12, 2023

John,

Really nice analysis. As a business case, delaying distribution grid (e.g., substations) and transmission asset upgrades is an under appreciated benefit of large-scale energy storage.

 

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Jan 14, 2023

Thanks for the positive comments, Charles.  

-John

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Jan 16, 2023

Strikes me that there is a fundamental difference between an overloaded transmission system and a transitory lack of energy in the transmission system. Batteries may be somewhat helpful for the latter, but not so much for the former.

If the transmission (or distribution) system is overloaded, the system needs to be upgraded. Alternatively, avoid unnecessarily putting energy into the transmission (or distribution) system. Therein lies a fundamental issue. Should we allow green energy to stuff unneeded energy into the systems? Should we spend huge amounts of money just so green energy producers can produce power (and make money) whenever they want?

Back in the day when grids were more rationally managed, dumping unneeded/unreliable energy into the system came with a cost -  you might have to pay money instead of making money.

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Jan 17, 2023

Agreed.

Although I didn't drill into these cases, my feeling was that the two applications presented were the latter. Having participated in several CPUC proceedings, I'm fairly confident that the parties will make the right decision on each case.

-John

John Benson's picture
Thank John for the Post!
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