US utilities launch energy storage testbed


US utilities Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E) and the Kentucky Utilities Company (KU) have partnered with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on an energy storage pilot.

Rollout of energy storage pilot

The three parties launched a new energy storage research and demonstration site at a coal-fired power plant, E.W Brown Generating Station, owned by KU near Harrodsburg in Mercer County.

Under the three-year partnership, LG&E and KU will test how battery energy storage solutions developed by researchers at EPRI can be used to optimise their operations and grid reliabilities.

The utility firms will use their partnership with EPRI to access operating costs associated with battery storage.

The project falls under EPRI’s Integrated Grid Initiative Pilot Projects in which the organisation partners with utility firms countrywide to jointly research, develop and test technologies to allow interoperability of distributed energy resources, energy storage and traditional centralised energy generation resources.

In a combined statement, EPRI said it will use the new site to advance the capabilities of its battery energy storage solutions as well as simplify the integration of energy storage with grid systems.

Dr David Link, manager of Research and Development for LG&E and KU, said: “The Energy Storage Research and Demonstration Site is unique among other sites in the utility industry because it provides us a testbed for evaluating multiple utility-scale energy storage technologies at the same time.”

Grid stability and DER integration

The energy storage testbed comprises three separate testing bays with a total of 3MW energy storage batteries integrated with power inverters and control systems.

The site will be open for other utility companies to implement their energy storage pilot projects with EPRI.

Mark McGranaghan, vice president of Distribution and Energy Utilisation at EPRI, added: “Energy storage is a viable way for grid operators to enhance resiliency, manage costs, and optimally incorporate distributed energy resources on an integrated grid.”

“The LG&E and KU testbed will provide valuable data on the performance of energy storage that will help utilities across the country make better decisions about their own systems as well as provide information to other stakeholders.”

Companies including LG Chem, Dynapower and Greensmith Energy are providing the equipment required for the development and operation of the energy storage facility. [NEC Energy partners to deliver energy storage deal for UK utility].

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.