Kansas City’s electrical grid just got stronger and smarter, thanks to a new nano-battery energy storage system.
The 1-megawatt (MW) battery went live late last week and once fully operational will store solar energy produced in the area, help smooth out peak demand, and limit regional power outages.
It may not look like much more than a simple 45-foot-long trailer, but the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) could be the next step in community-scale energy storage. At full capacity, the nanotech polymer lithium ion battery can supply the electricity demand of 400 homes for about an hour.
BESS is designed by manufacturer Exergonix to be self-contained and modular in nature, can scale up or down in size depending on demand, and has a 10-year operating expectancy. Two separate 500-kilowatt hour (KWh) capacity units are independently controlled electronically, and can be installed in a building or outdoor setting.
The system’s performance results will be independently tested and analyzed before it goes fully online in order to determine environmental, economic, and reliability impacts.
While the BESS design and output is impressive by itself, its impact on Kansas City could be even more significant. As the anchor of Kansas City Power and Light Company’s (KCP&L) $48 million dollar SmartGrid Innovation Park, the battery ties together a solar array, electric vehicle charging station, regional grid monitoring station, and urban park. It’s also open to the public and provides programs to educate consumers about their energy use.
In turn, the Innovation Park is at the heart of the city’s Green Impact Zone, an effort to transform a 150-square block area of Kansas City. The zone has suffered severe economic decline and an estimated 50 percent unemployment rate. A combination of weatherization programs, green collar job training programs, renewable energy and smart grid investments, and overall sustainability strategy aims to transform the neighborhood into a green economic zone.
BESS battery system image via KCUR Kansas City Public Radio
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.