Renewable energy technologies using wind or solar have long stirred questions about electricity storage for those times when it is either dark or windless. Add demand for a smart grid and a lot of work still needs to be accomplished. To this end, the states of New York and Indiana have launched storage and smart-grid research projects that might address some of these pressing issues. This is particularly positive news, especially pertaining to the storage end of the renewables equation.
According to a recent press announcement, the call for research into energy storage and related technologies has been given a boost by a major utility company, Duke Energy, committing funding in Indiana for renewables integration.
Duke Energy, headquartered in North Carolina and serving over seven million customers across a number of states, will fund $1 million into solar and wind storage programs at the Battery Innovation Center in Southern Indiana. The research will look at solar and wind integration using energy storage with particular regards to homes and communities.
PV-Tech reported last week that Duke Energy’s $1 million funding would see Indiana take a leadership role in energy storage, adding that the move emerges out of a commitment made as part of a settlement to Indiana’s consumers. According to a number of reports, Duke has had cost overruns and a number of other infractions in the building of a coal-fired plant. In a settlement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Duke has committed to funding the Battery Innovation Center (BIC).
Indiana’s capital, Indianapolis, with 107 MW of PV installed, is ranked fourth among US cities for solar generation capacity by Environment America.
According to a BIC representative, BIC will create a simulated grid on which to test the effectiveness of the solar-and-wind-integrating storage. BIC will look at different hardware, software and battery options. The project will also see two energy storage systems installed at Indiana schools, paired with renewable energy generation sources.
Elsewhere, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week the creation of a research and development facility to support the stability of the state’s electrical grid.
The new facility, named the Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe), will ideally support the transition away from centralized generation and transmission of energy. The project is based on a partnership between the New York Power Authority and State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY).
According to a statement on the New York Governor’s official website, the centre will be a “world-class facility devoted to energy technology innovation and the rapid deployment of smart-grid technology”. Cuomo called it a “major investment in the state’s future”. Cuomo is apparently keen to harness the potential of private-public partnerships, with the commercialization of any technologies developed as a priority alongside supporting transmission infrastructure resilience.
New York already has an R&D laboratory specifically for energy storage and battery-based technologies, the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY BEST). The new centre announced by Governor Cuomo adds a broader examination of the grid network to state-wide priorities. Cuomo has long been an advocate of increased distributed generation and moving transmission and distribution away from the centralized “hub and spoke” system.
Expanding renewable energy research like the Indiana and New York projects will lay foundation work for other states to pursue similar clean energy projects.
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