Published on June 9th, 2013 | by James Ayre


5 MW Lithium-Ion Energy Storage System Unveiled In Oregon — Will Provide Storage For Intermittent Renewable Energy Sources

June 9th, 2013 by  

A new, state-of-the-art, 5 MW lithium-ion energy storage system was recently unveiled in South Salem, Oregon. The new energy storage system — which is a demonstration project — will allow the storage of the excess electricity occasionally produced by some intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, as well as providing other services.

Image Credit: Portland General Electric

Image Credit: Portland General Electric

The energy storage system is integrated with a localized power zone — a microgrid — which means that about 500 customers in the area will be able to retain power even during regional electrical blackouts. The microgrid, and the new energy storage system, are both a part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project — a project designed with the intention of testing out innovative technologies and energy solution methods in the real world, and potentially spurring their wide-scale adoption.

“The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project is a successful public-private partnership involving 17 organizations across five Northwest states,” said Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary for DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, which oversees regional smart grid demonstration projects. “It is a highly innovative project demonstrating transactive energy management, which is a promising, cost-effective way to integrate variable renewable energy, energy storage and demand response at scale. The celebration of the Salem Smart Power Center makes it clear that Oregon is helping to lead the way on energy storage commercialization and grid modernization.”

The 5 MW lithium-ion energy storage system was developed by Portland General Electric as part of its contribution to the Battelle-led Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Half of the facility’s development cost of $23-million-dollars was covered by the US Department of Energy. As a whole, the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project is a five-year, $178-million project that launched in 2010.

The press release gets into the specifics of the new system:

The energy storage system will respond to regional grid conditions with the help of a key aspect of the demonstration called transactive control. Transactive control is based on technology from DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is managed by Battelle. The technology helps power producers and users decide how much of the area’s power will be consumed, when and where. This is done when producers and users automatically respond to signals representing future power costs and planned energy consumption. The cost signals originate at Battelle’s Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center in Richland, Wash. They are updated every five minutes and sent to the project’s participating utilities, including PGE.

The automated signals allow project participants to make local decisions on how their piece of the smart grid project can support local and regional grid needs. Participants are now gathering data to measure how the signal can help deliver electricity more effectively, help better integrate wind power onto the power grid and more. The Salem battery will use the signal to coordinate its charge and discharge cycles with the power grid’s supply and demand.

The new energy storage system should give grid operators the information they need to design better, larger systems and offers a means of exploring different ways to integrate wind power with the grid.

Energy storage systems of a much-larger scale are currently in the planning stages in the Pacific Northwest — most utilizing relatively unconventional systems, such as underground compressed-air energy storage in porous rock, or abandoned mines. The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently released a comprehensive report on two particularly attractive sites for compressed air energy storage in Eastern Washington.

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's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • AlexVigneault

    Anyone knows who is the battery provider?

  • agelbert

    I’ve been researching battery storage capacity and there seems to be a lot of confusion out there. For a PV system, the battery capacity is supposed to be 1 1/2 to 2 times the incoming PV energy of your panels. BUT, the battery energy (Amps times volts) VARIES according to 100 hour, 20 hour or 5 hour discharge rate. When they say said battery has 305 ah at 48V on a 100 hour discharge rate, does that mean I will JUST GET 3.05 kwh per hour for 100 hours?
    To make matters more complicated, unless you a are dealing with a NI-Fe type battery that can be safely discharged several times in a several decade period, you have to make sure you do not discharge a battery bank below a certain percentage of charge.
    It’s very frustrating and I wish they would just say, “IF you have ZERO kilowatts coming in, this battery bank will provide 100% of 1 kw for X amount of hours. That way, if you have a 15 kilowatt demand on power, you know the battery will last one fifteenth of X time so you buy enough to get your time up to the anticipated dead period in a power failure.
    Anyway, for the 5MW battery bank in the article, how long can it put out 100% of 5MW without overly discharging? 24 hours? Longer? Does anybody know?
    Help from any battery wizard out there would be welcomed. :>)

    • Bob_Wallace

      Certainly not a battery wizard, but I do have 20 years of living with batteries attached to solar panels.

      Up until very recently deep cycle/thick plate lead acid batteries were the most common storage for off the grid. I’m sure some people were using something else, but I’ve never encountered one of those people.

      Apparently lead-acid batteries, the kinds available until lately, don’t do well if completely discharged. So people, in general, would try to avoid more than a 20% discharge and use enough batteries to carry them for 2-3 sunless days.

      Trojan has recently released a new thicker plate battery designed for off-grid storage. It’s rated at 4,000 20% DoD cycles or 1,000 100% DoD cycles. 4,000 cycles is about 11 years of daily discharge. Their regular golf cart batteries are good for 5-7 years.

      The idea is to size your battery bank so that it will carry you through a short period of no sunshine. Perhaps 2-3 days. Start with your daily use and work back.

      If you need 3 kWh to get through a winter day then you need 9 kWh to get through 3 days.

      If you’re going to use 6 volt batteries then you need 8 in parallel (8 strings) to give you 48 volts. You’re going to store 1/8th of the needed power in each string. So, in this case 9,000 Wh / 8 = 1125 Wh / 6 volts = 187.5 aH per string.

      If you are willing to discharge your battery 100% then a single T-105 RE would do. They are 240 AH at 6 volts each when discharged slowly. If you want to stick with 20% maximum discharge then you’d need about four per string.

      WARNING: I’m not sure I’ve got my math correct. I’m sticking it up for others to crank through and confirm or shoot down.

      And I suspect that if you did use 100% discharge you might find your inverter shut down when battery voltage reached a certain point. Mine does, but that might be adjustable. Check rather than assume.

      • agelbert

        Thank you. I’ll check the link. I think I’m starting to understand the discharge rate better.

        • Vanadium Redox Flow batteries can be sized to the capacity and energy requirements of the user, with no degradation from cycling. See the Gills Onions project we developed 600kW for 6 hours = 3.6 MHW. Different technologies have different capabilities.

          • agelbert

            Thank you. I will.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Take a look at the Trojan link I provided. It shows that if you discharge faster then you have less usable power. The T-105 RE will give you 146 AH at a 2 hour discharge rate but 240 AH at a 48 hour discharge rate.

      I’m assuming that fast discharging causes the battery to heat up and heat = lost energy.

  • Jeroen

    For that price you can give more then 300 people a Tesla Model S with a total storage capacity of 25Mwh. 🙂

  • Wayne Williamson

    At 600 dollars a kilowatt for the batteries(3 million for 5MW) and another 100k for the inverters(guessing), just wondering what the other 20 million was for?

    Dave2020, good question, if they are using 5kw then it would be two hours. If they only use 1kw per hour then 10 hours. Probably some where in between.

  • Dave2020

    “about 500 customers in the area will be able to retain power even during regional electrical blackouts.”

    For five minutes? For half an hour? Nobody wants to say, not even PNNL.

    • Tom G.

      Hi Dave2020:

      I understand your frustration the way some things come out in the news. Having said that lets try to see why its really tough to put numbers to everything.

      First of all 500 customers is quite small so if its midday and Monday through Friday; all the people are up, t.v.’s are running, toasters going, washing machines and electric dryers are running, lights are on and the AC is cycling off and on if its summer. My GUESS, and I am of course guessing, the average per household consumption would be about 10-30 kWh’s per home for some given time period.

      Now lets say the electric grid goes down in the evening instead of during the day. This time it’s after dinner, the kids are in bed, windows are open since its a nice summer evening, so AC is off, washer and dryer have stopped, showers have been taken and basically its dad and mom watching a little TV before they go to bed. Their home might be, and again this is a guess, drawing 2 or 3 kWh from the grid.

      As you can see the ration or change between say some average of about 20 kWh daytime use to about 3 kWh in the evening is significant; and to further complicate things it depends on where the community is located. The electrical usage patterns are different for rural areas than for say multi-family dwellings. Multi family dwellings typically have fewer sq.ft. per family member and therefor typically consume less energy but this is certainly not always true.

      So if you happen to live in the area, pull out your electric bills for let’s say the last 6 months and total up the kWh’s used. Divide that by 6 and then again by 30 and you will get some idea of what your home is using per day [ 24 hour time period]. That should give you some idea what a typical home in the area [if your home is typical] is using.

      If those 500 homes are like yours and the people living in those homes live about the same way as you do, then you will have some approximation of how long those 500 homes could be served. But remember we haven’t factored in TIME YET. The time when the grid goes down is going to effect how long you can continue to watch T.V. Is it summer or winter or daytime or nighttime. Is it a retirement community or does it have a younger population. Are there any big energy consumers and will they be automatically taken offline when the grid goes down. All factors we haven’t taken into consideration yet.

      Hope this helps a little. Have a great day.

      • Dave2020

        You miss my point Tom.

        There’s only one number we need to know, and that is – the battery – ?MWh.

        5MW doesn’t tell us anything meaningful.

        • Tom G.

          Sorry Dave2020. I didn’t understand what you were looking for. Here is some additional information that may help.

          Portland General Electric (PGE) is developing an inverter-battery (1 MW – 240 kWh) at NREL before installation of a full size testing and demonstration of the 5 MW – 1200 kWh rated device.

          Hope this answers your question.

  • globi

    The Northwest has plenty of flexible hydro, which can easily deal with intermittent power resources.
    And keep in mind all power plants are intermittent – or do you know of any single nuclear or coal power plant which has never needed any refueling or maintenance?

    If anything please title it as a microgrid back-up system and not storage for intermittent power resources.

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