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Battery Energy Storage – the Game Changer

Former Partner
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by Raymond S. Heyman

One of the fastest emerging technologies in the energy industry is battery storage. Seen as a solution to frequency regulation challenges and renewable energy shortfalls, battery storage is sometimes called the next “game changer.”

There are two types of battery energy storage options. Large “front-of-the-meter” storage applications are grid scale and owned by the utilities. In 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission mandated that the state’s investor-owned utilities must acquire 1,325 MW of battery storage by the year 2020. Southern California Edison has already opened its Tehachapi Energy Storage Project, a 32 MWh battery energy storage system housed in its Monolith substation.

Oregon passed House Bill 2193-B, which requires Oregon Utilities serving over 25,000 customers (Pacificorp and Portland General Electric) to each work with the Oregon Public Service Commission to procure one or more storage systems with the capacity to store at least 5 MWh of electricity.

In June 2015, Tucson Electric Power Company issued a solicitation to lease a 10 MW capacity energy storage system to be integrated into its resource plan.

The second type of battery energy storage options is “behind-the-meter” which would be located on the customer’s premises, often in conjunction with rooftop solar systems—and not owned by the incumbent utility. Companies such as Tesla, SunEdison, Stem and Green Charge Networks are all active in developing and marketing this option. Southern California Edison has also contracted with a number of these providers for behind-the-meter batteries.

As battery energy storage technology develops and prices come down we may expect more jurisdictions to implement battery energy storage standards for “front-of-the-meter” and “behind-the-meter” applications.