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Snohomish PUD and 1Energy Systems partner on new approach to energy storage


From the December 10, 2012 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published December 10, 2012

Snohomish County, Wash., Public Utility District and 1Energy Systems will partner to develop and deploy an innovative approach to energy storage, designed to help electric utilities increase their use of renewable energy and improve overall reliability. Under the partnership, 1Energy will provide a 1-MW battery energy storage system, built on a modular energy storage architecture (MESA). The system, based on commercially available, advanced technology batteries, will be housed in a standard shipping container, which will be installed at a PUD substation.

Alstom Grid and faculty from the University of Washington will join the project to collaborate on research, analysis and design of technology interfaces. Alstom Grid will work with 1Energy to build MESA interfaces into its control center software platforms, used by Snohomish PUD. University of Washington faculty will provide electrical engineering, power systems and computer science research expertise to the MESA project. 1Energy will lead the selection of future MESA partners who will provide batteries, power conversion and balance-of-system components.

"This collaboration will produce a state-of-the-art energy storage unit for use by the PUD," said Snohomish PUD General Manager Steve Klein. "It will bring major equipment and software companies together to establish the appropriate industry standards and interfaces to make storage more economically and operationally viable for the entire electric utility industry. This approach is much different than other energy storage projects in the past and should result in the expanded application of plug-n-play type energy storage systems to help solve the expanding needs of today’s electric grid that depends more and more on intermittent resources such as wind and solar."

Unlike conventional energy storage systems, MESA provides a standard, scalable approach to energy storage in which electric utilities or grid operators can choose interoperable components – batteries, power converters and software – to meet their specific needs and use cases, Snohomish said. The ability to exchange components also makes it easier and more cost-effective for utilities or other customers to upgrade or replace components as new technologies emerge, the utility said. 

Key goals of the MESA project include:
  • Developing standard electrical and communication interfaces to connect batteries, power converters and software components into modular energy storage systems;
  • Helping to foster a robust industry ecosystem of modular energy storage component suppliers.
By sharing their learning with other electric utilities and technology suppliers, MESA project partners aim to advance a new, component-based approach to energy storage that gives electric utilities more choice, and lets battery, power converter and software manufacturers reach more customers while focusing on their core competencies, Snohomish said. In support of these goals, MESA partners will work with industry standards organizations to publish MESA specifications, and make key MESA technologies available in the public domain.

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