Part 2: Microgrid and Community Storage Applications

Part 1 of our examination of the Texas energy storage market reviewed utility-scale applications. This post highlights several of the smaller-scale microgrid and community applications operating in the state.

Lithium-Ion Battery Technologies

A number of utilities are utilizing lithium-ion battery technologies for these applications, including:

Oncor Electric Delivery Company (Oncor), Texas’s largest transmission and distribution company, operates a 200 kW lithium-ion Tesla Battery as part of a System Operating Services Facility Microgrid (SOSF) in Lancaster, Texas, south of Dallas. The system is designed to seamlessly integrate energy storage and renewable energy resources with cutting-edge hardware and software to showcase how microgrids can enhance reliability for Oncor customers. The grid-tied system consists of four interconnected microgrids and nine different distributed generation resources: two solar PV arrays, a microturbine, two energy storage units, and four generators. The system has a total peak capacity of 900 kW. The battery was commissioned in 2015.

Oncor has also provided the first community storage project in Texas by deploying five 50 kW lithium-ion battery systems on their distribution system in Dallas. The batteries provide grid resiliency by providing backup power to schools, traffic lights and a fire station. The batteries are designed to kick in when the electricity trips off due to storms or equipment issues. According to a company representative, the batteries are operating in “reliability only” mode, meaning they are only supplying energy when the grid is down in those neighborhoods. They are programmed to only recharge during off-peak hours.

Pecan Street Project, Inc. in Austin operates 15 kW of lithium-ion batteries initiated as part of an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project at the Mueller Community in Austin. This application is part of a high-tech “community of the future” with many technologies of the future grid tested by partners in the project. These technologies are being integrated into a microgrid that links 1,000 residential meters, 75 commercial meters, and plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). Different storage technologies have been or will be tested, including thermal storage, battery technologies, and possibly ultracapacitors and fuel cell systems.

The Rabbit Hill Energy Storage Project is a 10 MW planned lithium ion energy storage system project to be located in Georgetown, Texas. It will be connected to the Georgetown Utility Systems grid and is a joint venture between Ormat Technologies and Alevo Battery Technology to build, own, and operate the energy storage system. The project will consist of three Alevo GridBank inorganic lithium ion energy storage systems and is intended to provide fast response regulation services to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), electric energy time shift, and renewables energy time shift. The expected operation date was October 1, 2016.

An American Electric Power (AEP) affiliate has filed an application for two battery systems in west Texas with the PUC. AEP Texas North Company (TNC) is proposing to install a lithium-ion battery in two locations on its distribution system — in Woodson and Paint Rock, Texas — in order to increase the reliability of its distribution system. Due to the first-of-its-kind nature of this distribution installation in Texas, TNC is requesting confirmation that its proposed installation of batteries complies with Texas law and that the batteries will be considered distribution assets whose cost will be eligible for inclusion in the Company’s distribution cost of service.

The Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies participated in ERCOT’s Fast Response Regulation Service (FRRS) ancillary services pilot project in 2014-15 with a demonstration using eleven aggregated Frito Lay truck batteries. The system went through the required technical tests and responded as required in order to be paid for providing a fast response regulation service. The project was completed in 2015.

Advanced Lead-Acid Batteries

A microgrid project at Fort Bliss, Texas includes an advanced lead-acid battery rated at 300 kW. In addition to seamless transition during grid failure, the system also provides support services including power factor correction and area frequency regulation services to the local electrical system operator while it is connected to the electric grid, providing increased reliability and security to Ft. Bliss.

Solar + Storage

Austin Energy has recently begun a demonstration project called Austin SHINES: Next Generation Renewable Energy & Storage Integration. Part of the 39-month $4.3M project is a utility-scale battery system of 2.0 MW joined with 3-4 MW of solar. There will also be storage at residential and commercial locations in a program to develop a distributed energy resource (DER) management platform. The project is supported by funding from the Department of Energy, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and several partners.

CPS Energy (CPS) has begun a storage project funded by a grant from TCEQ. The project integrates the most economically and technically viable blend of energy storage using a 5 MW – 2 Hour lithium-ion system in conjunction with solar energy. The Solar+Storage project will be the largest energy storage system in Texas that shifts clean energy peak demand periods. The project will be completed in 2018, and will be located within the CPS Energy service territory. The innovative Solar+Storage business model will incorporate multiple storage services for integrating renewable resources to achieve maximum emission reductions while providing the greatest economic and operational benefits to the San Antonio community, customers, and the ERCOT grid. CPS Energy will be working with ERCOT on the utility-scale battery storage project, which will be integrated into the municipally-owned utility’s solar farms and power grid.

Part 3 of this series on the Texas energy storage market will discuss compressed air energy projects.