Want more reliable energy? Try New Zealand's trick (a giant battery)

Thu, 2016-12-08 12:11 -- SCC Staff

It has taken decades of slow incremental progress. But we're finally to the place where so-called "grid-scale storage" often makes financial sense. In essence, we're talking about batteries with the capacity to support the power grid itself.

Consider the example now getting started in New Zealand.  With help from Lead Partner S&C Electric — a grid-scale storage pioneer — they expect to use their new battery to help with peak loads. This will allow them to tap into the battery during peak times, so they don't have to keep a peaking power plant running just "in case."

There are many other ways to tap into the benefits of batteries. They can be used to "firm up" power from wind farms (to lessen the constant fluctuations). And to provide ancillary services that help to prop up the grid and improve power quality. They can also be used in microgrids, to store power from solar or other local renewables.

Clean, reliable electricity is essential to a smart city. And utilities now have the tools to greatly reduce blackouts, brownouts and interruptions. You should be insisting that your utility up its game. Even if it requires a small rate increase to finance the improvements, the benefits of ultra-reliable power far outweigh the costs. — Jesse Berst

Counties Power has selected Electropar and S&C Electric Company to provide a network-class grid-scale battery as the core of its supply-side energy management pilot.

The pilot, which will go live in mid-2017, follows an extensive evaluation of options available from leading global suppliers. When operational, the battery will enable Counties Power to evaluate benefits such as reduced transmission demand at peak periods and improved power quality.

The consumer-owned lines company is investing in a 250-kW grid-scale battery with 500 kWh of storage to pilot and test several core network and value-added services. The pilot will be housed at the company’s newest substation in Tuakau, north Waikato.

“As a consumer-owned distribution network, cost-effective, high quality and safe power supply are minimum expectations for our owners,” said Counties Power chief executive Sheridan Broadbent. “The pilot will enable us to trial batteries as a core network element, which could help us to avoid or reduce future capital investment. We will be able to assess benefits for our customers such as supply quality enhancement, provision of ancillary network services and peak shaving.”

Pukekohe-based Counties Power is working with several parties in its pilot study to assess future partnering opportunities, including a major electricity retailer.

“This kind of multi-party collaboration is quite new to New Zealand and we think it will unearth terrific opportunities for joint innovation that will save consumers money, while removing inefficiency and excess costs. We will also be working with at least one tertiary institution to help us build and test hypotheses for future innovation,” said Broadbent.

S&C Electric Company, headquartered in Chicago with regional business units and manufacturing facilities around the globe, provides energy management and grid-scale storage solutions to transmission and distribution network operators. With an office in Melbourne, Australia, S&C is able to provide local, technical and engineering project support. This will be S&C’s third grid-scale storage installation in the region and first in New Zealand.

“We are delighted to be selected by Counties Power as their pilot partner, particularly given the range of services the company and its associates wish to explore,” said Jason Lander, S&C vice president, Asia Pacific. “With some of the most mature grid-scale technology in the world and an already large installed base, we know we are up for the challenge they’ve laid out for us.”

Counties Power has procured the solution through S&C’s local representative of more than 50 years, PLP Electropar, who will be providing local support, service and expertise.