You’ve probably been hearing a lot about energy storage systems lately, and here’s a chance to see how they work on a large scale. The Philadelphia Navy Yard has embarked on a smart microgrid demonstration project called the GridSTAR Smart Grid Experience Center, including an advanced battery provided by the company Solar Grid Storage.
Don’t let the “navy yard” part of the name fool you. The Philadelphia Navy Yard has has been designated a federal Energy Innovation Hub with the help of $122 million in Department of Energy funding.* After languishing for decades, it has been repurposed as a business center and showcase for green technology. The GridSTAR Smart Grid Experience Center was specifically designed as a resource to help accelerate smart grid adoption in the northeast region.
The Solar Grid Storage energy storage system
The GridSTAR project marks the first commercially developed energy storage system to go online in the Philadelphia region, so its function as a showcase is going to get a good workout.
In addition to energy storage, the GridSTAR Experience Center includes a “smart” home, EV charging stations, and educational/training facilities.
The initial function of the Solar Grid Storage battery will be to maintain the frequency of AC power on the GridSTAR microgrid. Eventually, the battery could be used to store solar energy harvested on site at the Navy Yard.
Solar Grid Storage CEO Tom Leyden explains:
GridSTAR’s new microgrid combines clean and renewable solar power with energy storage enabling a series of new benefits including emergency backup power, peak demand reduction and power balancing on the grid. Simply put, solar plus storage will ensure a more stable, resilient and smarter grid.
The system itself is based on lithium-ion battery packs. Solar Grid Storage assembles the batteries and all related systems in a shipping container, which is transported to the site fully formed. The transportable module relieves individual facilities from having to reinvent the wheel with each installation.
The Navy Yard project also dovetails with a major green branding effort by Philadelphia, which recently signed a “green pact” with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The city’s commitment to sustainability is also reflected in its football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, which has positioned itself as a green leader in the NFL.
Energy storage and global warming
As the cost of renewable energy drops, advanced batteries are beginning to play a significant bottom line role, by enabling facilities to take more advantage of wind and solar power on a regular basis.
Wind and solar have long been criticized as “unreliable” due to their intermittent nature, but advanced energy storage solutions resolve that problem.
In the context of global warming, large scale energy storage systems also serve a multilayered purpose. For the many facilities that still rely primarily on grid-sourced power, the most obvious advantage of on site storage is to buffer a facility against grid disruptions, which are becoming more frequent as extreme weather events are on the rise.
In that regard, an advanced battery is simply the next technology level up from storing diesel fuel on site to power an emergency generator. It doesn’t address global warming management, but it does make all the difference when the effects of global warming manifest themselves.
That leads to the key difference between an advanced battery and a diesel emergency generator. Because an advanced battery has the potential to store renewable energy as well as conventionally sourced energy, it also has the potential to store energy harvested from on site solar systems as well as wind or geothermal. Other forms of hyperlocal renewable energy, such as biomas or biogas, could also come into play.
The availability of onsite or hyperlocal renewable energy also provides an extra layer of protection in case of extreme, long term infrastructure disruptions that affect diesel fuel transportation routes as well as the electricity grid. (Walking Dead fans may recall how this scenario can play out in dramatic fashion).
With its lower carbon footprint, the renewable energy angle also means that advanced batteries, unlike diesel generators, play a role in global warming management rather than simply acting in response to warming-related disasters.
Readers please note: GridSTAR clarifies the relationship this way: “The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub, one of five federal Energy Innovation Hubs, with $122 million in Department of Energy Funding, is one of the 130 organizations located at The Navy Yard.”
[Image: Courtesy of Solar Grid Storage]