January 6, 2019

Duke Energy Emerging Technology Center Tests Innovations Before They Come to Market

At ESA’s STUDIO conference, attendees toured the Duke Energy Emerging Technology testing lab in Mount Holly, North Carolina, just outside Charlotte. The facility tests real-time grid simulators, electric vehicles, telecommunications and cybersecurity. This research helps Duke, and its cadre of industry partners, learn how to deploy energy-efficient technologies and make them reliable before they are accessible for customers. Duke welcomes the opportunity to partner with other companies and test technologies before launching to the general public. For example, they demonstrated a Tesla residential battery storage unit powering a home kitchen and all its appliances using smart, connected technology. 

At the testing lab, engineers and technicians also evaluate home energy storage systems from Tesla and Enphase, as well as other larger systems. They test the batteries’ ability to reliably provide power back into the grid when called on. Some of the characteristics involve charge and discharge rates, battery chemistries and their auxiliary power requirements. In addition, you will find researchers assessing the newest products of solar-plus-storage including large-scale rack mounts to smaller, residential storage devices.

Outside of Mount Holly, Duke Energy is installing energy storage across North Carolina to modernize the grid and save customers money over the long term. As the largest power provider in the state, Duke realizes energy storage will play a significant role in electricity delivery to its customers now and into the not-so-distant future.

In the next 15 years, Duke Energy said it plans to invest nearly $600 million to deploy 375MW of energy storage across its business units, with the most investment going toward larger, megawatt-scale batteries. A statement released by the company in October outlined their Integrated Resource Plan or IRP to build storage projects in the Carolinas – both North and South. As is now, North Carolina only has 15MW of storage with South Carolina far less.

“Duke Energy is at the forefront of battery energy storage, and our investment could increase as we identify projects that deliver benefits to our customers,” said Rob Caldwell, president of Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology. “Utility-owned and operated projects in North Carolina and South Carolina will include a variety of system benefits that will help improve reliability for our customers and provide significant energy grid support for the region.”

Duke Energy can maximize the versatility of storage beyond storing and dispatching of energy to include other customer and system benefits such as back-up power for critical services including hospitals, fire stations and the military. There are also fewer grid disruptions or disturbances when storage is deployed.

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