NAATBatt Coalition Recommends Deployment of Distributed Energy Storage Systems

February 20, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

A coalition of 13 leading industrial companies and electric utilities, including General Motors Company, The Dow Chemical Company and Duke Energy, issued a white paper recommending the installation of up to 300 GWh of distributed energy storage (DES) systems around the country by 2022. DES systems consist of small, stationary batteries installed in neighborhoods, buildings, homes and electricity substations, which can be networked together using "smart grid" communications technology. DES systems reduce blackouts and brownouts, permit greater use of variable, renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, and help reduce dependence upon imported petroleum. The coalition was assembled by the National Alliance for Advanced Technology Batteries (NAATBatt).

Barriers to DES System Deployment Although DES technology exists today, few such systems have been deployed and electric utilities have little experience dealing with complex DES systems on the grid. The white paper points out that the way that DES systems are paid for discourages their deployment. Because DES systems are installed on the distribution portion of the electricity grid -- in homes, communities and buildings -- local utility ratepayers must pay for all of the costs of DES deployment. But those same ratepayers receive only a portion of the benefits of local DES systems, since many of the benefits accrue to persons outside the local service territory.

The white paper identifies three "national," non-local benefits of DES systems: greater security of the national power grid, helping states achieve their renewable energy mandates, and reducing dependence on imported petroleum by making electric vehicles more affordable to consumers.

The white paper makes six recommendations for speeding deployment of DES systems. Among them are compensating local ratepayers for the "national" benefits of their DES systems; greater coordination and standardization of DES systems among utilities; and a national campaign to educate consumers and state regulators about the benefits of DES. The white paper also suggests reform of current demonstration project funding by the U.S. Department of Energy, asking that those projects be smaller, faster and more geographically diverse.

More news and information regarding the latest developments in Smart Grid electronics can be found at Darnell’s SmartGridElectronics.Net.