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Understanding Battery Energy Storage Systems and Their Role in Grid Integration

The USAID-NREL Partnership has developed tools and resources to assist power system operators, planners, and regulators in gaining a better understanding of the role of battery energy storage systems in grid integration.

A solar panel in a field with two battery storage devices behind it.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL

The question of what role grid-scale battery storage plays in a power system has gained prominence because of the increasing need for power system flexibility coupled with the rapid decline in the cost of storage technologies, particularly lithium-ion batteries. More utilities and governments seek to determine whether battery storage is a cost-effective option for integrating large shares of variable renewable energy, such as wind and solar, into their power systems. 

While energy storage presents an enormous opportunity to improve power system operations, many power systems can support variable renewable energy integration using other methods such as system operation improvements or conventional generation flexibility. The appropriate amount of grid-scale battery storage depends on system-specific characteristics. A careful analysis is always required to understand whether investing in energy storage is the best option.

Utility-Scale Battery Storage

In a webinar about utility-scale battery storage, Paul Denholm, a leading grid systems researcher, dives into important concepts for understanding how the role that batteries play in grid integration could evolve as prices continue to decline and the penetration of variable generation grows. Denholm focuses on two services: frequency regulation and peaking capacity. They are examples of how the services storage provide may change over time. Denholm also addresses topics such as how a battery’s location within the power system may drive its ability to provide certain services.

To watch the webinar, visit the Greening the Grid website.

Grid-Scale Battery Storage

The USAID-NREL Partnership developed a fact sheet that provides the following information on grid-scale battery storage:

  • Additional technical synopses about storage location
  • Chemistry and sizing options
  • Range of services storage can provide to a power system
  • Means of compensation for battery energy storage systems service provision.

It also offers concrete steps and case study examples to show how jurisdictions have approached addressing barriers to battery deployment. This includes how to enable “value-stacking,” or the ability of batteries to provide (and receive compensation for) multiple system services.

To learn more, read Grid-Scale Battery Storage: Frequently Asked Questions.

More Information

For more on other topics related to grid integration, visit the Grid Integration Toolkit on the Greening the Grid website.