NETL Helps Optimize the Electric Power Grid with Fast-Response Frequency Regulation Demonstration Projects
NETL experts are investigating a fast-response frequency regulation approach to upgrading the nation’s aging power grid—the interconnected system of electric power generation, transmission, and distribution.
Finding faster ways to correct imbalances between power generation and power demand is a key target in efforts to upgrade the Nation’s power grid. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is helping demonstrate two cutting-edge energy storage technologies that can respond in milliseconds when events—known as frequency deviations—threaten power service.
Frequency deviations can have negative effects for power customers, including the worst-case scenario—cascading blackouts. There are a variety of causes for frequency deviations. Some occur when a generating plant or transmission line suddenly goes out of service. Others happen when there are unanticipated changes in electric demand. Still others result from an increasing reliance on renewable resources like wind and solar power that are intermittent and variable.
Frequency deviations can result from an increasing reliance on renewable resources like wind power.
When deviations happen, the short-term imbalances are corrected by ramping power assets up or down—a process known as frequency regulation—within seconds or minutes of an occurrence. Two NETL-managed demonstration projects have response frequency regulation capabilities that can accomplish ramping in milliseconds, offering significant economic and service advantages.
One of the projects is a grid-scale energy storage demonstration project that uses battery technology. East Penn Manufacturing, Inc., received DOE funding in 2010 through the Smart Grid Development Program to demonstrate UltraBattery® technology for frequency regulation. The Ultrabattery is a hybrid energy storage device that combines an asymmetric ultracapacitor and a lead-acid battery in one unit cell.
East Penn constructed a 3 MW facility at their site in Lyon Station, Pa, which began providing frequency regulation services to the grid in 2012. An East Penn report from January 2014 showed that during the first year, the system progressively improved in providing power when needed in response to frequency deviations, and even higher system availability is expected during the 2014 demonstration phase.
NETL manages 16 Smart Grid regional demonstration projects and16 utility-scale energy storage projects.
A second fast-response frequency regulation demonstration project features a technology that uses flywheels to store surplus energy and rapidly inject it back into the grid when energy shortfalls occur. In January 2010, DOE funded Beacon Power Corporation to build a frequency regulation plant designed to use 200 flywheels (rated at 100 kW each) operating in parallel to provide immediate responses to system operator control signals. Beacon Power was acquired by Rockland Capital which formed Hazle Spindle LLC to build the initial 4 MW of storage capacity in the Hazle Township, Pa. plant. By May 2014, the plant capacity expanded to 16 MW with plans to bring the full 20 MW online by mid-summer 2014.
NETL, on behalf of the Energy Department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, manages a portfolio of 16 Smart Grid regional demonstration projects and 16 utility-scale energy storage projects. Operational data gleaned from the demonstration
projects will help determine technical feasibility and economic viability of the innovative approaches available for Smart Grid improvements.