Someone said that a smart grid without storage is like a computer without a hard drive. Duke Energy seems to agree.
While much of the discussion about the the smart grid has focused on cool demand side gadgets to control thermostats, air conditioning and refrigerators – and the software and incentives (or forced compliance) to control them, the most effective “smart” appliance is an energy storage system. Energy storage on a distribution grid allows for the most efficient use of renewable energy – like PV systems on residences – and peak demand that occurs from air conditioning (and future hybrid plug-in cars) without intrusive monitoring of residential power use. What a concept – one robust and dispatchable grid connected battery – like the VRB–ESS – instead of multitudes of residential controllers, software and regulations.
Duke Energy plans to demonstrate such a common sense approach. Their system will utilize an advanced flow battery to balance PV, shift generation to cover peak, and provide power quality. Residential customers will be given the option to change power consumption by providing them with information and incentives – not by forcing remotely monitored / controlled motion sensors (to turn lights and power off and on) and thermostats on customers.
The advanced energy storage system (battery) allows Duke to work cooperatively with their customers without forcing compliance or intruding into their privacy. Customers can chose to respond to price signals or other data provided by Duke. However, the battery fills in any gaps and provides a truly “smart” addition to the grid.