Storage on the Electricity Distribution System
The flexibility of energy storage makes it an increasingly important tool for maintaining the reliable and effective operation of electricity distribution networks. As storage capabilities improve and expand – while new demands are placed on the grid from electric vehicles and renewable energy – it will only become more vital for optimal grid performance.
Maintaining good ‘power quality’ on the distribution grid is critically important for its stability. For example, the frequency and voltage of electricity must be kept within very strict ranges to ensure supplies are stable and customers’ equipment operates as expected and without damage. Energy storage systems can be an incredibly effective tool for achieving power quality needs on the distribution network and respond to fluctuations in power quality much more rapidly than most alternative means.
Distributed generation offers excellent opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of the electric power system, but also makes grid operation more complicated as systems originally designed for one-way flow of power must now handle customers’ own generation which varies based on sun or wind. Energy storage, in addition to the power quality benefits noted above, can help smooth out the intermittency of renewable energy resources and allow that energy to be used when renewable energy drops. This can reduce the need to rely on peaking power plants and the strain on the electric grid that could result.
Energy Storage and Electric Vehicles
Stationary energy storage systems can also solve challenges that electric vehicle charging could create when deployed in large numbers. Increasingly highly-powered charging stations that would allow faster and faster charge times may put a strain on local electricity distribution networks. Coupling energy storage systems with EV charging infrastructure can spread out the peak loads that high-power or large-number charging could place on a distribution grid, reducing the need for costly upgrades to lines and charges that would otherwise raise the cost for EV charging.