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For Co-ops: Energy Storage Could Be Key

Water-filled ponds at different elevations, like these in Minnesota’s Iron Range, have pumped hydroelectric storage potential. (Photo By: National Science FoundationWater-filled ponds at different elevations, like these in Minnesota’s Iron Range, have pumped hydroelectric storage potential. (Photo By: National Science Foundation

Explosive growth in solar generation is driving interest in energy storage which could help utilities meet demand when solar energy production is limited.

“We are seeing a sharp increase in interest in storage,” said Doug Danley, NRECA Business and Technology Strategies Department liaison for renewable and distributed energy. Danley was a panelist at the Solar Electric Power Association’s recent Utility Solar Conference in San Diego, Calif.

“Energy storage was a very important topic throughout the two-day conference,” said Danley. “Co-ops were seen to be in the middle of things.”

Among the projects Danley discussed were a fast-response thermal water heater study undertaken by Great River Energy as part of the NRECA Smart Grid Demonstration Project.

The Maple Grove, Minn.-based G&T has considered sale of distributed thermal in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s market. Danley also mentioned two other Minnesota projects.

Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative of Jordan, has been studying behind-the-meter electrical storage to help meet member needs,” said Danley. “Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association in Rockford uses battery storage at its 32.5-kilowatt community solar array.”

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative of Lihue, Hawaii, is pursuing a pumped hydro project and battery storage is being considered by some electric cooperatives in Alaska to supplement wind power, said Danley. “Many other co-ops are designing projects right now.”

The Department of Energy is funding utility-scale energy storage research at the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Energy Research, said William Torre, energy storage systems program director and principal researcher on the project.

Torre added that the goal is determining which systems have market potential and commercial viability. California has a mandate for its three IOUs to install 1.3 gigawatts of storage before the end of this decade.

 

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: May 11th, 2015

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