Epri White Paper Surveys the Electrical Energy Storage Field

Michael Giberson

The Electric Power Research Institute has just published “Electricity Energy Storage Technology Options: A White Paper Primer on Applications, Costs and Benefits.”

I haven’t read the report – including appendices it is 170 pages long – but the news release claims: “Study results indicate that the total U.S. energy storage market could be as large as 14 gigawatts of capacity if energy storage systems could be installed for about $700–$750/kW-h and the energy storage owners and operators could monetize the estimated benefits.”

ABSTRACT: A confluence of industry drivers—including increased deployment of renewable generation, the high capital cost of managing grid peak demands, and large capital investments in grid infrastructure for reliability—is creating new interest in electric energy storage systems. New EPRI research offers a current snapshot of the storage landscape and an analytical framework for estimating the benefits of applications and life-cycle costs of energy storage systems.

This paper describes in detail 10 key applications which can support the entire chain of the electrical system, from generation and system-level applications through T&D system applications to end-user applications. Included are: wholesale energy services, renewables integration, large and small storage and transportable systems for T&D grid support, ESCO aggregated systems, commercial and industrial power quality and reliability, commercial and industrial energy management, home energy management, and home back-up storage. Capturing multiple benefits—including transmission and distribution (T&D) deferral, local or system capacity, and frequency regulation—was found to be key for high-value applications and for supporting the business case for energy storage. Applications that achieve the highest revenues do so by aggregating several benefits across multiple categories. An analytic framework is presented to estimate the benefits and life-cycle costs, and help guide and shape the economic treatment of energy storage systems. Because energy storage systems have multi-functional characteristics, which complicates rules for ownership and operation among various stakeholders, policy challenges were identified that need to be resolved to realize the true potential of storage assets.

The current status of energy storage technology options and updated estimated ranges for their total installed costs, performance, and capabilities for key applications is also presented based on technology assessments as well as discussions with vendors and system integrators. Despite the large need for energy storage solutions, very few grid-integrated storage installations are in actual operation in the United States. This landscape is expected to change around 2012, when a host of new storage options supported by U.S. stimulus funding begins to emerge and, in turn, catalyzes a portfolio of new energy storage demonstrations. Such tests in real-world trials will provide needed data and information on the robustness of such systems, including performance and durability, cycle life costs, and risks.

As a key industry stakeholder, electric utilities are positioned to support energy storage applications because they can test, evaluate and deploy applications in different sections of the electricity value and supply chain, and enable the monetization of benefits of the various stakeholders. The high-value markets identified can help focus future demonstration activities to advance the deployment and adoption of energy storage systems.