Battery Energy Storage Systems Are Becoming an Integral Part of Grid Modernization

In an article for Energy Central, Guidehouse Insights says stakeholders are looking to battery energy storage systems to upgrade an aging electric transmission system

With the introduction of the American Jobs Plan, the Biden Administration is prioritizing the building out of the nation’s aging and regionally siloed electric transmission system. Utilities are now deploying non-wire alternatives, also known as virtual power lines (VPL), which include battery energy storage systems (BESSs) placed on the supply side and the load center.

In an article for Energy Central, Ricardo Rodriguez, research analyst with Guidehouse Insights, says that the multifaceted nature of BESSs result in less risk for network owners and should be considered in lieu of traditional transmission infrastructure where possible.

“In addition to enabling greater dispatchability of generation, BESSs can be deployed as much as 80% faster than transmission line,” Rodriguez said.

The technology’s deployment is estimated at 1-2 years for assets 100 MW or larger, has a significantly smaller footprint and environmental impact, and is flexible—with the ability to scale in terms of size, operation, and application over varying time horizons. It also can be relocated to meet changing load or generation patterns. In addition, BESSs can provide other valuable services including frequency regulation, voltage support, spinning reserves, and reducing outage impacts.

In the article, Rodriguez explains that several important issues must be addressed before BESSs are widely deployed as a transmission solution or VPL. First, market rules must be designed to enable BESSs to provide both transmission and generation functions. Second, BESSs must be included in the transmission planning process for both transmission-only purposes and multiple use purposes. Third, BESSs that deliver transmission services must be eligible for cost recovery, similar to how other traditional transmission assets are. Lastly, there are concerns regarding BESSs deployed as a transmission asset that later also become a generation asset.

“Though many unknowns lie before us, it is clear that traditional, 10-15-year timeframes for network planning and deployment are no longer reasonable,” Rodriguez said. “Consequently, regional transmission organizations and independent system operators must work quickly to develop the regulatory frameworks that will enable BESSs’ full participation in the generation and delivery of power.”

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