Energy Storage Association
Date: 1/13/98    Record No.: 10522
Contact: John Hurwitch, Exec. Dir., 301-951-3223,

Energy Storage Association
Fall Meeting
"The Value of Energy Storage in a Restructured Utility Market"
Sacramento, CA
November 18 -19, 1997

(Complete agenda and proceedings on file with UFTO)

*** --> SPECIAL OFFER <-- ***

This one time, the ESA is offering to send a free copy of the full proceedings to prospective members, together with their membership solicitation package. Membership in ESA is a good way to stay in touch with developments in utility storage, and a year's company membership is only $1500.

To request the package and proceedings of the November meeting, contact (please tell them UFTO sent you):

TEL: 301-951-3223
FAX: 301- 951-3235

E-MAIL: John Hurwitch, Executive Director,


(more details on request--and in the Proceedings)

--> Overview of the Market:
The goal of ESA and the DOE Utility Storage program is to build market volume for storage systems. Utilities are proving to be a very tough market for battery storage, despite a strong benefit/cost story. One hypothesis is that the benefits are scattered among different stakeholders (even within a utility), with no single part being big enough by itself. Nobody is in a position to put it together, and restructuring is making the situation even worse, as the walls go up inside utilities. Also, utilities say they have no money, and want the first cost to be very low, regardless of life-cycle considerations. Meanwhile, big needs are looming, especially on transmission systems, but nobody seems to own the problem or is in a position to make the investment.

Vendors are offering turnkey systems for various applications and markets, but there are very few orders, and those are mostly for very special situations, e.g. in Alaska (remarkable success stories). Vendors are getting very discouraged, and may be close to throwing in the towel.

Is the problem with the Technology? Marketing? Or do utilities "just not get it?" Or, are the proponents wrong in their view that storage is an idea whose time is overdue, and that it's largely a matter of "education"? In 1996, DOE and Sandia visited with over two dozen utilities to try to understand the industry's views on storage. Results were recently published: "Report on the Energy Storage Systems Program Executive Meetings Project" SAND 97-2700, November 97. However, more dialogue with the utility industry is still needed, to get to the bottom of these questions.

The ESA has proposed a flagship project called "Storage 2000," as a joint program with DOE to stimulate and accelerate development, with a goal of 200 MW of project commitments by the year 2000. Applications are to include renewable, distributed, generation/transmission (ancillary services), and customer systems.

--> Energy Storage in the UK
The closer storage is to the customer, the better. Anthony Price, of National Power, UK, compared batteries to warehouses for "just in time" distribution, where it's well known that you put storage only in one place in the system, close to the customer. He showed an analysis of the bulk market hourly price over time. Even with big differences between on and off peak wholesale prices, you can't win by buying off-peak and selling on-peak. Not only are there roundtrip (storage) losses, but you're also fighting the spread (sell at the bid price, buy at ask). What you'd be selling is capacity, and there's currently an excess.

The farther down the distribution chain you are, more distribution costs are built into the price of goods, so storage has more value. However, whoever owns the storage controls that value. "If the customer owns the storage, then the rates are wrong".

--> Uninterruptible Power and Power Quality
While utility storage isn't moving, UPS and P/Q applications are a very strong market (a lesson there somewhere?). There are still issues, however. Though vendors have products, there's often insufficient understanding of what a "disturbance" really is. For example, they may design for a 3 phase symmetrical fault, which rarely occurs. Phase shifts and waveforms need particular attention. Too often, products need to be redesigned in the field.

There are several interesting systems using steel flywheels: - International Computer Power -- steel flywheel in a 100 kVA motor genset to provide ridethrough, successfully demonstrated for two years at a Hewlett Packard site, dramatically reducing diesel backup starts. - Holic Power Protection -- 100's installed worldwide. Diesel generator and flywheel combination where the flywheel dynamically adjusts itself to maintain constant generator speed. 1250 kVA unit runs about $1.1 million. Without the diesel, it can provide short term ride through. - Active Power, Austin TX, has been issuing press releases lately. Modular pancake unit provides 400kW for 5 sec, for short discharge P/Q applications.

In "new" technology (composite) flywheels, Beacon Power presented their plug-replacement for batteries in UPS systems. The 1 kW, 2kWh unit goes directly on the DC bus. Beacon is a joint venture between SatCon and Duquesne. They expect to be in production by the end of '98, with beta tests in mid year.

--> Renewables and Storage
Solar and Wind energy systems need storage, particularly in remote/village power applications. The opportunities are huge, particularly to supply the 2 billion people in the world with no electricity, and to displace diesel fuel consumption. A number of programs are trying to come up with reliable modular integrated systems (hybrids with diesel, solar or wind, and batteries). Batteries are often blamed as the weak link in renewable energy systems (right along with inverters), but the blame may be misplaced--often the wrong type of battery is installed by local people.

The President's "Million Solar Roof" initiative is beginning to be felt, though this may not necessarily imply much use of storage. SMUD has a huge commitment to renewables, and are just now beginning to consider the potential benefits of storage in that context.

The first major project under Storage 2000 is to be the "Renewable Generation and Storage " (RGS) project. Partners will be selected by formal solicitation process in 1998 for design, development and testing of a prototype integrated system with a PV array, inverter and storage, ready for customer use.

International opportunities exist for "Remote Area Power Systems" or mini-grid systems. Funding is available, and local governments are motivated, e.g. in Latin America. The Solar Energy Industry Association has information. ( ).

--> Texas Energy Storage Technology Institute (ESTI)
This is a coordinated research program involving all the universities in Texas, funded in part by the Texas Energy Coordinating Council, a state agency. ESTI is doing work in capacitors, batteries, and particularly high performance flywheel systems for railroad applications. DOT and DARPA funding support the Advanced Locomotive Propulsion System, which includes a 3 MW Allied Signal gas turbo-alternator, and the University-developed 167 kwh flywheel for braking and acceleration. The idea is to provide an alternative to electrification of railroad right of way. ESTI wants to encourage synergies between stationary and mobile storage systems. Contact John Price, 512-471-4496, 512-232-1888 (direct),, http:/

--> Key Note Speaker
Dr. David A. Rohy, Vice Chairman, California Energy Commission, talk was "California's Commitment to Maintaining Research and Development, in a Restructured Electricity Market", and explained how the public interest R&D programs are shaping up. (Much the same as reported in UFTO Note, Nov 13, on the CURC meeting.)

Separately, Pramod Kulkarni of the CEC outlined the priorities for storage in California, seen as a "strategic" area under the public benefit R&D program.

Topics: storage