An interview with Troy Miller of S&C Electric
The 150-kW storage system that S&C Electric installed at its Chicago headquarters is a model for the future. They needed a working demo to show their customers how they would benefit from energy storage. They can see how you can reconfigure the network if there is an induced fault. There is a small working demo of PJM’s frequency regulation market. The move to battery storage is inevitable, and enables the incorporation of much larger amounts of intermittent energy such as wind and solar. Troy Miller, S&C’s Manager, business development Power Quality Products, explained why battery storage will replace many peaker spinning reserve plants.
In North America, electric power is generated at about 60 Hz.
As electricity is more intermittent, fuel-powered plants are kept idling to ramp up quicker when there is a need for more power. They take minutes to respond and, in many cases, it has taken more than 20 minutes to minimize the mismatch between generation and loads.
“One of the benefits of energy storage is that it can respond in less than two seconds across the board,” Miller said. “If you are responding in seconds, you can take care of irregularities before they become a bigger problem,” he added. “If you have a frequency excursion and you arrest that excursion, then you remove the need for much of the spinning resources to take care of the secondary event.”
“So a comparatively small amount of energy storage that acts fast can displace a larger amount of spinning reserve generation,” he said.
Younicos, in Germany, claims battery storage technology can take the place of 25 fossil fuel burning plants, and enable the grid to carry 60% renewable content annually.
Miller said the percentage is up for debate, but battery storage will definitely enable more renewable content.
His response to Younicos’ claim that 5 MW of battery storage can displace 50 MW of conventional energy was an emphatic “Yes.”
“An energy storage device can provide resources both up and down, so it can source 5 MW and also you can charge the battery,” said Miller. “So it becomes a resource in both directions, as opposed to a spinning reserve which can only go in one direction.”
“You also asked if battery storage could replace peaking power plants and the answer is ‘yes,” he added. “We have a significant amount of generation online whose only job is to take care of the peaks as they occur. Energy storage is much more efficient.”
It can significantly reduce individual customer’s bills by shaving off demand and peak power.
Energy storage can do the same thing for utilities. Currently, an infrastructure that transmits 8 gigawatts normally has to be built out to 19 – transformers, cables and everything – to be able to deal with a 19 gigawatt peak.
“If you could place storage strategically throughout the network so that you took care of those 8 gigawatts appropriately, you would not have to build up such a large infrastructure,” said Miller. “This would amount to significant savings globally across the grid.”
Is battery storage the most important technology that will help us build the grid of the future?
“No, it is one of the many things that will be done,” Miller said. “It is one of the tools in the toolkit for the utilities to use. There are also things like demand response, intelligent switching, microgrid integration, distributed generation …”
Software also plays an important role.
S&C sells its CES-stored electricity to PJM through Intelligent Generation (IG).
“Our patented software enables S&C’s PureWave Community Energy Storage system to operate as a virtual power plant, and help system owners, like S&C, create new revenue streams for their assets,” said IG’s CEO, Jay Marhoefer, in a press release.
A company spokesperson explained how:
The IG software platform is an operating system for the distributed grid. On S&C’s behalf, we bid their PureWave Community Energy Storage system (ESS) into relevant PJM power markets and dispatch the ESS with the PJM signal. IG’s network consists of a fleet of different storage assets. The power of this network is that it allows us to simultaneously maximize electricity cost savings and generate revenues from PJM’s wholesale power markets. S&C’s ESS is extremely well-designed, allowing us to operate it and monetize it from IG’s data center with virtually no manual intervention required by S&C
IG takes one frequency regulation signal from PJM –all participants in the market receive the same signal –and we allocate it to storage assets within our network. We then aggregate the responses from all the network assets and send this response to PJM. One of the values of the network is that we can tap into a subset of assets at a given time to provide PJM’s requirement, which most of the time is significantly less that the capacity we have bid. This means that assets within the IG network do not have to be operating 24/7, which increases efficiency and reduces wear and tear on each battery in a way that extends the useful life of each energy storage system.
According to the press release:
In order to sell into the fast-response frequency regulation market, PJM requires systems to pass a series of tests that measure the accuracy, delay and precision between PJM’s regulation signal and the system’s output. PJM rejects any system that does not meet a minimum of 75 percent; S&C’s system passed with an average performance score of 97 percent.
The system is now participating in the market on a daily basis,” says Tim Qualheim, Vice President – Strategic Solutions, S&C. “Our doors are open, and we are excited to welcome customers, industry professionals and regulators to see how we are making this system work for the grid and how to maximize the multiple benefits of energy storage.
Anyone who’s wishing to see a working model will find it at their headquarters in Chicago.
S&C has been selling their products into the US utility market since 1911.. They branched into Canada fifty years ago and have grown globally with projects in Europe, South America, Asia, and the Middle East. S&C has been facilitating the adoption of wind and solar technology for 15-20 years. They are an employee-owned company and entered the storage market a decade ago. S&C currently has about 47 MW and 146 MWh of storage capacity online. That is roughly 20% of the storage capacity in the world.
Notes on Illustrations, descending from top
- Troy Miller, S&C’s Manager, business development Power Quality Products
- PureWave® SMS Storage Management System in Field, B.C. is the first of its kind in Canada. It stores clean energy produced by BC Hydro to meet the area’s electricity demands while also reducing system load during periods of peak demand. During the first 6 months of operation, there were 6 outages during which this system kept Field supplied with power – Courtesy S&C Electric
- Placement of PureWave Storage Management System, at Catalina Island Energy Storage, during construction – Courtesy S&C Electric Company
- Actual Performance Graph – Courtesy Intelligent Generation