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Getting Control of Electricity Expenses Using Smart Energy Storage

Maintaining the balance of supply and demand in our electrical power system is critical to accommodate the needs of the users. It requires that we over supply the system with electricity in order to meet an increase in demand during peak periods. This practice can be wasteful as oftentimes we have trillions of dollars’ worth of energy just sitting, waiting to be used. It also impacts the efficiency of power plant operations, and causes additional greenhouse gas emissions.

The efficient storage of energy is a critical element of our electric power system. We have an ever-aging power grid that would profit from energy storage. We would be able to accommodate the provision of renewable energy, and would also more efficiently meet the needs of utilities and customers needing the energy. There are numerous areas within our current power system to install storage points. Many thousands of these storage systems are already installed at power facilities around the world. In developing an effective system for the storage of energy, we should keep in mind just what energy storage is and how it can be initiated today in facilities located throughout the country.

The ability to connect storage units to our power grid is not a foreign concept to us. There are over 1,000 storage systems located worldwide. There are a number of technologies and approaches to the management of power for commercial and industrial facilities that accommodate the conventional design of a building:

   - Combining solid-state batteries with an intelligent software system where they can charge and discharge based on the building’s energy requirements, weather, and track records of usage.

   - Usage of a flow rechargeable battery which has the ability to store energy in an electrolyte solution that will produce a longer cycle life and rapid response times.

   - Systems can store electricity as kinetic energy in a flywheel. When power needs go down, the rotor continues to spin producing kinetic energy that can be transformed into electricity. Flywheels accommodate the quality and reliability of power.

   - Stored energy in the form of heat or cold, referred to as thermal storage is an alternative that includes making ice when power needs are low. When energy demands increase, the ice system switches off the air-conditioner and uses the stored ice to produce cooling.

There are many points in the grid where energy storage can be installed. Currently there are many thousands of systems connected with the grid, and are behind the meter at residential, commercial, and industrial locales around the world. There are many benefits to facilities participating in this program. They include a reduction in demand charges, demand response program participation, time-of-use rates, maximization and emergency backup.

Charge Reduction

Based on the facility’s location, many are assessed demand charges on their bills. Based on the fifteen minute period of the day when their energy demand is at its highest, these charges can comprise over 50% of their respective bill for energy.

Even though electricity consumption can be reduced by energy efficiency programs or solar PV, these programs do not always reduce a building’s peak usage. Energy storage systems combined with intelligent software can track and reduce a facility’s load and charges for demand by initiating battery power during high demand, which would essentially reduce the billable load of the facility.

Demand Response Programs

Energy storage can allow a facility to reduce its energy requirements during periods of high demand which can lower its electricity bill. Being included in a demand response market can be done without impacts to on-site energy usage or operations.

Storage systems have the ability to increase financial return from demand response programs, and can also benefit the overall grid.

Time-of-Use Rates

High demand periods of energy usage are costly. Storage systems can initiate consumption from these expensive high demand periods to those of low demand. Should any tariff structure change over time causing peak demand periods shifting to the evening, energy storage systems can accommodate the new time demand thus producing additional savings.

Emergency Backup

Most commercial and industrial facilities have developed a comprehensive plan for emergency backup. These situations can be costly when dependence is predicated on a local emergency backup program. There are advanced storage solutions available currently that can provide emergency backup along with many other money saving and revenue generating solutions. By using the power storage program for reduction of demand charges, the storage can produce savings in the event of an outage of power.

Case Study: Glenwood New York Project

One of New York City’s most prominent rental property owners is the Glenwood real estate organization. They pledge to their residents a “Manhattan lifestyle.” They were concerned about a demand of 13 gigawatts of peaking power being placed on the city’s grid during the hot months of summer and the use of air conditioners.

To accommodate this issue, they participated in “demand response programs” along with New York ISO and Con Edison, which are focused on reducing loads during peak periods. Using energy storage-based solutions at many of its properties, Glenwood has been working with Demand Energy.  Systems that are controlled by the Demand’s Distributed Energy Network Optimization System (DEN.OS), maximize the returns of behind-the meter storage systems, either singularly or in conjunction with distributed generation.

During 2012, a 225 kW/2 MWh storage system with Demand’s DEN.OS software was installed by Glenwood in the Barclay Tower property located in downtown Manhattan. The system’s compactness allowed it to be installed in smaller spaces like garages and basements. With its installation, Glenwood was able to switch modes from “demand capping” to “demand response” without being penalized. It also gave Con Edison the ability to manage its peak electricity demand throughout various sections of New York.

With New York having one of the most costly demand charges in the world, Glenwood realized a 14 percent reduction in its cost of energy and power which underlines the potential for battery-based storage to accommodate challenges to the grid throughout the year. Demand Energy in conjunction with Glenwood is now planning the installation of an additional l MW/4 MWh of storage systems to other Glenwood buildings that will provide distributed support to grids.

As a demonstrated proven bank of technologies, energy storage has been available for many years. With the progress in technology over the years, there is currently a large range of reliable and affordable options for storage accessible to companies so that they can provide grid-connected storage programs for the market.

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