With improvements in energy storage technology, wind and solar energy are proving that the old saw about renewable energy being unreliable is just that — an old saw. However, there is still one hitch. In order to claim its place in wholesale electricity markets, renewable energy storage needs to communicate efficiently with utilities and other players. Without that element, energy storage owners lose out on revenue and miss a golden opportunity to hike up the return on their investment.
There’s a solution for that, of course, and just today Greensmith, one of the energy storage companies that CleanTechnica has been following for years, has launched a finer-tuned version of its GEMS energy storage platform targeted especially at owners and operators of more than one energy storage system.
Greensmith Makes Energy Storage Easy, Really
Greensmith first crossed the CleanTechnica radar back in 2012, when it announced a partnership with Australia’s ZEN Energy Systems. The arrangement gave ZEN the license for Greensmith’s “Battery Operating System” energy storage software.
“This could be big news” was how CleanTechnica described the venture, and in recent events the company has delivered on its promise. In January of this year, Greensmith made our list of 43 battery storage companies to watch, and in March, the company reminded everybody that:
… one-third of all energy storage capacity installed in America for the year 2014 was deployed by Greensmith and uses the company’s software platform for management…
In April, Greensmith announced a new application for its GEMS4 software technology platform, that being an energy storage planning simulator called StorageModel.
That brings us up to last month, when CleanTechnica published a guest column by David Miller, Director of Business development at Greensmith, describing why software is critical to the success of energy storage:
As energy storage becomes a critical element of the modern grid, the software that manages these systems is an essential component for three reasons: (i) it ensures that the systems are able to achieve specific return on investment targets; (ii) it future-proofs the systems, allowing them to incorporate new technologies and implement new applications; and, perhaps most importantly, (iii) it optimizes the design, integration, operation, and management of these complex “systems of systems.”
Apply all that to one energy storage system, and then consider the complexities of managing multiple, distributed energy storage sites, and you can see where the next level of software comes in.
The Next Level Of Energy Storage Software
That brings us up to today’s big announcement. This one involves yet another application for GEMS4:
The new functionality provides owners and operators with a control layer for managing these aggregated front-of-the-meter and behind-the-meter energy storage systems, allowing them to integrate them into utility or ISO market communications systems so that they can use these systems to participate in resource adequacy, frequency response and other wholesale energy markets.
The basic idea is that, with a more nimble system, energy storage owners can participate more fully in the electricity market, which is growing more complex practically by the day due to the integration of more intermittent sources — namely, wind and solar — along with stored energy.
Greensmith’s hookup with utility giant Duke Energy provides a glimpse into the opportunities. Last May, Duke announced that the two companies would join with LG Chem and Parker Hannifin in a major battery-based energy storage system in Ohio, adding another notch in Duke’s energy storage stick (Duke already owns almost 15% of US grid-connected, battery-based energy storage capacity).
Super-ironically, the 2-megawatt storage project is being constructed at the retired W.C. Beckjord coal-fired power plant in New Richmond. The storage system is designed to help regulate grid frequency for another gigantic energy firm, grid operator PJM.
Here’s what Duke VP of commercial transmission Phil Grigsby had to say:
Delivering that power in seconds, as opposed to a power plant that could take 10 minutes or more to ramp up, is the unique value the battery system provides to grid operators.
Grigsby also noted that the new system, which is expected to go online by the end of this year, will help demonstrate the potential for large-scale application of battery-based energy storage.
Not for nothing, but Duke Energy is also behind a gigantic 36-megawatt (24-megawatt-hour) wind energy storage system in Texas, in partnership with the Department of Energy.
Greensmith also offers some factoids to help you grasp how rapidly the energy storage market is growing, particularly when it comes to behind-the-meter systems (“behind the meter” refers to onsite storage serving a particular facility):
…According to GTM Research’s U.S. Energy Storage Monitor Q2 2015 report, 40.7 megawatts of energy storage was deployed in the second quarter of 2015, a nine-fold increase from the second quarter of 2014 and a six-fold increase from the first quarter of 2015. In addition, the behind-the-meter energy storage market in the second quarter of 2015 grew over eleven times from the same period in 2014.
So there. It seems like only yesterday that intermittency (we’re talking about you, wind and solar) was a problem. Now it’s an opportunity.
Photo (cropped, enhanced) via Greensmith.
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