Battery and Thermal Energy Storage
Not long ago, the mantra among electric utilities was that "you can't store electricity”—instantaneous power production had to nearly equal demand. But NREL research is changing this belief, demonstrating the high performance of grid-integrated battery and thermal energy storage technologies.
NREL examines how best to integrate these energy storage technologies into the electrical grid and potentially into other energy systems, such as building heating supplies and electric vehicles. NREL is also creating better materials for batteries and thermal storage devices to improve their performance and lower costs.
- Performance characterization of energy storage technologies
- Modeling of these technologies on their own or as part of a system, such as an electrical grid
- In many cases, actual construction and performance measurement of working energy production and storage systems
- For systems too complicated to build at NREL, the Energy Systems Integration Facility's power-hardware-in-the-loop capability allows actual hardware to be connected to software models for realistic simulations.
Technology Performance Characterization
Better energy integration depends on understanding the performance characteristics of the technologies, such as energy storage rates, energy supply rates, and ramp rates (how quickly the technology can go up or down in power output). NREL can perform such characterizations and then plug the results into grid models to see how the technologies can be integrated with grid operations.
Grid Modeling and Techno-Economic Analyses
Many utilities are now offering time-of-day pricing to their customers, selling power for a lower price during off-peak hours. For both large and small customers of these utilities, battery storage systems provide a means to shift their power demand to off-peak hours. NREL can perform the grid modeling and techno-economic analyses required to understand when investments in energy storage make sense.
NREL is helping to test an advanced microgrid system that draws on batteries and solar energy for its power for installation at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
NREL is collaborating with this integrated energy storage company to evaluate and demonstrate the first North American CellCube battery management system.
Erigo and EaglePicher
NREL is helping to validate an energy storage system for a microgrid that contains three independently controllable energy storage technologies.
NREL is partnering to develop the Consolidated Utility Base Energy (CUBE) System—a solar, battery, and generator hybrid microgrid for the U.S. Army.
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Thermal Energy Storage
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