Maxwell Technologies

Maxwell is a global leader in the development and manufacture of ultracapacitor energy storage and power delivery solutions. With 20 years of experience in the grid, Maxwell delivers new levels of power quality and reliability.


5 Ways Ultracapacitors Operate In Utility Grids And Microgrids

image credit: Used with permission.Energy storage can help integrate renewables and keep the grid network balanced. Ramping, frequency regulation and synthetic inertia are among the applications supported by ultracapacitor and battery storage technologies.

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Globally, grid modernization is driven by a number of factors including increased renewable energy generation and a decrease in generation from traditional fuels. Further energy generation is becoming more decentralized. The net result of these factors is less grid stability.

Ultracapacitors, also called supercapacitors, are rapid-response, high power energy storage devices that provide grid operators with a cost-effective strategy for addressing voltage, frequency, and power quality issues. Here are five ways that ultracapacitors can operate in the modern grid.

/var/folders/q3/tcmcf9m14q93x669l_nvt5f80000gn/T/ bridging, ramping and regulation 
Power generators are typically on standby so that they can ramp up or down depending on the increases and decreases in demand. Ultracapacitor energy storage systems can help reduce the need for idling, fuel-burning generators by bridging the time gap between demand and bringing an alternative generation resource online as well as by providing active power support until the generation resource is brought to full power.

/var/folders/q3/tcmcf9m14q93x669l_nvt5f80000gn/T/ frequency response 
The modern grid needs new ways to achieve stability, as traditional generation sources, such as fossil fuel and nuclear plants, phase out. Renewables, including wind and solar, introduce unpredictable changes in power supply. Ultracapacitor energy storage systems address the fluctuations of renewable energy by rapidly injecting and absorbing power, helping to stabilize changes in frequency. 


/var/folders/q3/tcmcf9m14q93x669l_nvt5f80000gn/T/ sag mitigation 
Voltage sags, or a short-term dips in voltage, are one of the most expensive of all power quality issues. Ultracapacitors contribute to power quality by injecting power to support loads and mitigate the risk of downtime at critical facilities. When compared to batteries and flywheels, ultracapacitors have a smaller footprint and lower cost of ownership, with less maintenance required.


/var/folders/q3/tcmcf9m14q93x669l_nvt5f80000gn/T/ critical microgrids and facilities
Microgrids exist on military bases, university campuses, commercial and industrial sites and areas isolated from the main power grid. Since microgrids are self-reliant, it is critical to maintain power quality and stability. Maxwell ultracapacitor systems can provide short-duration services such as voltage and frequency support, solar and wind firming, and generator bridging, and likewise be incorporated into hybrid ultracapacitor-battery systems to reduce the charge-discharge rate of batteries, helping to extend battery lifetime.

/var/folders/q3/tcmcf9m14q93x669l_nvt5f80000gn/T/ and wind power smoothing 
When wind turbines have no wind to catch and solar panels have no sun to absorb, power availability dramatically decreases. Grid operators can use the high power and response speed of ultracapacitors to react to millisecond and second changes in power availability and "smooth” fluctuations caused by intermittent renewable energy sources.


NEXT: Maxwell’s Unique Position to Future-proof Grid Energy Storage

Dr. Kim McGrath's picture

Thank Dr. Kim for the Post!

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 5, 2019 3:27 pm GMT

Dr. Kim, I've been following ultracapacitors for almost a decade (since eEstor made a splash), and I'm curious - what's the state-of-the-art at Maxwell with
1) Storage capacity
2) Output capacity
3) Price

Kimberly McGrath's picture
Kimberly McGrath on Apr 15, 2019 3:12 pm GMT

Hi Bob - thanks for your question. With respect to fundamental ultracapcitor state of the art metrics, please see below link for our 3V cell technology. 


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 7, 2019 7:01 pm GMT

Really interesting content-- thanks for sharing!

Kimberly McGrath's picture
Kimberly McGrath on Apr 15, 2019 3:07 pm GMT

Thank you Matt. Feel free to contact me if you have additional questions. 

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