At the leading, cutting edge of new energy technology, providers of intelligent distributed energy storage systems for the first time are aggregating stored energy from dispersed utility customer sites and dispatching electricity as needed on to the California grid. Santa Clara’s Green Charge Networks on October 8 announced that it and its customers are now participating in the California Independent System Operator grid-power market.

Green Charge is aggregating 13.3 megawatt-hours (Mwh) of energy storage capacity from 61 commercial-grade advanced battery storage systems it has installed ¨behind the meter¨ at utility customer sites throughout the Golden State. Paving the way for Green Charge to tap into the surplus energy dispersed across all those sites, each of those customers has signed ¨shared savings¨ Power Efficiency Agreements with Green Charge.

*Credit: GreenCharge Networks

Leading the ¨green¨ charge

The main reason Green Charge customers such as Mountain View-Los Altos High School District signed on and had GreenStation intelligent energy storage systems installed was to reduce the high demand charges California utilities charge large customers for power usage during peak usage hours.

At 1.08 Mwh, Mountain View-Los Altos High School District’s GreenStation installation makes up just a small portion of the total energy storage capacity Green Charge and customers now participating in the CAISO market can tap into and dispatch to the grid.

Adding 60 more installations for a total potential added grid capacity of 13.3 MWh is among the first demonstrations of the potential to aggregate and scale up stored energy from dispersed sites and deliver it on to power grids efficiently and reliably and in market competition with other suppliers and technologies.

Not only does that afford them the opportunity to earn incremental revenues, it helps CAISO and distribution utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison better operate and maintain the flow of electricity over the state grid.

Green Charge is participating in CAISO’s day-ahead power market at present. Once it proves that it can perform well enough there, it expects to participate in CAISO’s real-time power market, the requirements for which are more demanding.

Multiple uses, multiple benefits

*Credit: Clean Coalition
*Credit: Clean Coalition

Green Charge’s announcement comes in the wake of Millbrae, CA-based Stem’s announcement that it was bidding to and dispatching electricity from 18 ¨behind the meter¨ battery storage systems in CAISO’s real-time, as well as day-ahead, power market.

Intelligent battery storage systems offer several advantages and benefits to grid operators and utilities when compared to the fossil-fuel fired ancillary services and spinning reserves CAISO typically contracts with to assure that the supply of high-quality electricity provided by power generators meets consumer demand.

The electricity Green Charge and customers will be dispatching to the grid via CAISO’s day-ahead market is particularly valuable as it tends to flow during the ramp-up to daily peak power usage hours, CEO Vic Shao pointed out.

¨Using energy storage gives utilities across the country a meaningful tool to stabilize prices, see immediate grid impact and increase reliability. Energy storage targets specific locations that have most urgent needs,¨ he said in an email response to questions.

Furthermore, the latest advanced stationary, predominantly lithium-ion (Li-ion), battery storage systems can respond much more rapidly and supply electricity to grids much faster and more efficiently than their traditional fossil-fuel counterparts.

In addition, deploying stationary advanced battery storage capacity at key points along its network of transmission lines and substations reduces the need for utilities to spend more on more expensive grid infrastructure. That in turn reduces energy costs to consumers, as utilities pass them on to their customers.

Also of significance, today’s advanced battery storage systems are ideally suited when it comes to integrating renewable energy generation sources on to power grids. That’s already of great value in states such as California, where solar, wind and other clean, renewable power sources are being used to meet large and fast-growing percentages of power demand.