When U.S. utilities watch trail blazers for signs about what's next, they often look to stalwarts like Duke, CenterPoint and the three California IOUs. Great examples, to be sure, but they might want to cast their eyes overseas from time to time. When it comes to state-of-the-art transmission and wide area management, for instance, State Grid of China is probably the world leader.
Likewise, Italy's Enel Group has long been a pathfinder. They were years ahead with their installation of smart meters, for instance. So where are they headed next? Well, smart cities, for one, since they recently joined the Smart Cities Council as a Global Partner. And energy storage too, as you will read in the release below (which also hints at Enel's progress in data analytics). This is a utility worth watching.
NEC successfully commissions largest renewable energy storage system in Italy
Lithium-ion battery storage system delivers flexible electricity grid capacity to manage fluctuations in demand
Rome, London & Tokyo, April 2, 2014 – NEC Corporation today announced the commissioning of an Energy Storage System (ESS) for Enel Group subsidiary Enel Distribuzione, Italy's largest distribution system operator. The ESS can store two megawatt hours (2MWh) of renewable power for release into the grid as required, making it the largest in Italy and one of the largest in Europe*. The ESS has been connected to the Chiaravalle primary substation in the region of Calabria, where renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic and wind generation plants, have been widely implemented.
The high level of inherently variable and intermittent renewable energy resources could potentially cause grid reliability issues related to reverse power flows from the medium voltage (MV) to the high voltage (HV) grid which happens when the amount of renewable power generated exceeds current consumption levels. It presents new challenges in terms of system stability, voltage quality and peak load management. Supply and demand have to be balanced at all times. If they are not, voltage and frequency fluctuations could disrupt or even destroy electronic equipment.
With NEC’s ESS, Enel Distribuzione is conducting a series of trials of a range of peak shaving, power balancing, power quality, voltage regulation and frequency regulation capabilities to overcome these issues.
With NEC’s storage solution, Enel Distribuzione is also testing innovative distribution and ancillary services. In particular, the ESS will be used to control the energy flow between their network and the national Grid. Enel Distribuzione forecasts the amount of energy flow from their primary substations to the national grid and submits the Energy Exchange Profile data to the Transmission System Operator (TSO)**. When the gap between the Energy Exchange Profile and actual energy flow excesses the threshold due to fluctuations in renewable energy generation, NEC’s ESS works to minimize the gap by flexibly charging or discharging the batteries.
“We are very pleased about the deployment of NEC’s Energy Storage System. During the testing phase, the high performance and quality of the ESS have entirely met our strict requirements both in terms of technology and support,” said Paola Petroni, Head of Network Technologies at Enel Distribuzione.
“NEC’s Smart Energy Solutions including its broad range of ESS can help nations meet globally agreed targets to decarbonise their economies by integrating renewable energy into their grids in a cost-effective way,” said Ugo Govigli, Vice President of Smart Grid Solutions at NEC Europe. “Energy storage and distributed energy management systems are crucial technologies to develop an efficient and cost-effective energy market in Europe, because they enable 100% of the power generated by renewable energy sources to be used.”
NEC’s ESS will eventually be integrated with Enel’s smart grid infrastructure which is based on an automated meter management system with smart meters installed at homes, offices and factories, in addition to new innovative big data analytics and IT systems to provide a two-way, real-time information exchange of electricity demand.
With its recently announced acquisition of A123 Energy Solutions, NEC has become the world’s leading supplier of lithium-ion grid energy storage systems. By integrating its market leading ICT technologies and A123 Energy Solutions’ system integrations expertise, NEC will further drive its Smart Energy business to develop advanced infrastructure solutions that help to create a better society.
* As of April 2, 2014 based on NEC research
** The TSO is simulated in the trial for testing purposes
About NEC Corporation
NEC Corporation is a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. By providing a combination of products and solutions that cross utilize the company’s experience and global resources, NEC’s advanced technologies meet the complex and ever-changing needs of its customers. NEC brings more than 100 years of expertise in technological innovation to empower people, businesses and society. For more information, visit NEC at http://www.nec.com.