Deploying energy storage as transmission

Storage as virtual transmission is poised to change the way utilities and planners draw transmission network maps, allowing them unprecedented flexibility in how they design and augment their networks.

Throughout the world, big changes are happening as to how and where electricity is generated, where it needs to be sent, and how it is to be used. The result is that the transmission network map is constantly being redrawn. Unfortunately, no matter how many times it’s redrawn, planners and utilities seeking to accelerate upgrades on unexpectedly busy corridors are faced with the same challenges. These include long permitting times and disputes with communities over placement of projects.

If energy storage enters these discussions, it’s usually in terms of supporting or replacing generation: to provide ancillary services, peaking capacity, or the flexibility needed to integrate large amounts of renewable energy.

But transmission companies around the world are now beginning to look at energy storage technology in a different light. Energy storage is increasingly being considered as a supplement or even a replacement for poles and wires that carry high-voltage current from power plants to end-users.

Deploying storage as transmission offers networks new flexibility to meet capacity needs. Energy storage is placed along a transmission line and operated to inject or absorb power, mimicking transmission line flows. Used in this way, storage can take the place of proposed system upgrades or lines that would otherwise have to be built.

Such applications represent a new and vital area in which storage is providing value, offering planners more options and more flexible tools for redrawing the network map around the world.

“Redrawing the Network Map: Energy Storage as Virtual Transmission” is a white paper that examines the current state and future prospects of how energy storage can be used as transmission. It explains the theory, and provides examples of where energy storage is already being deployed for these purposes, and finishes up with some key strategies for integrating storage in network planning.

Two practical examples

In 2019, the German grid development plan, produced by all the transmission owning utilities in the country, proposed an unprecedented 1,300 MW portfolio of energy storage to ensure grid stability and lower network costs. The storage portfolio, known as “GridBooster,” will provide backup transmission capacity as opposed to the grid operators maintaining an entire additional transmission line on standby.

The GridBooster projects will take the virtual transmission concept to gigawatt scale, and will enable more efficient operation of existing key transmission lines delivering power through the centre of Germany.

Australia’s AusNet Services procured a 30 MW, 30 MWh Fluence energy storage system for its Ballarat Terminal Station in Victoria. The system is providing grid stability services at a critical transmission junction, as well as flexible capacity to meet the region’s daily peak demand needs.

Ballarat Energy Storage System
Battery installation in Victoria, Australia at AusNet Services’ Ballarat Terminal Station

Fluence: A Member of EASE Europe

The white paper is a production of Fluence, a company that joined the European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE, a DecarbEurope partner) in 2018.

Fluence is the result of two industry powerhouses and pioneers in energy storage joining together to form a new company dedicated to innovating modern electric infrastructure. In January 2018, Siemens and AES launched Fluence, uniting the scale, experience, breadth, and financial backing of the two most experienced icons in energy storage.

The white paper can be downloaded from the Fluence website.

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