DOE looks at funding hybrid battery/wind project in Texas

The U.S. Department of Energy has released a draft environmental assessment (EA) covering a project of the Center for Commercialization of Electric Technology (CCET) to demonstrate battery technology integration with wind-generated electricity by deploying and evaluating utility-scale lithium battery technology to improve grid performance.

DOE prepared the draft EA to evaluate the potential environmental consequences of providing a financial assistance grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for the Reese Technology Center (RTC) project, to be located in Lubbock County, Texas.

“The proposed project would be designed in compliance with federal and state air quality regulations, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and would have a net beneficial impact on air quality in the region,” said the draft EA. “New construction would involve: (1) above ground and underground 12.5 kV distribution lines, (2) 1.5 MW storage battery facility and foundation, (3) an access road, and (4) site clearing. Two wind turbines and foundations would also be constructed as part of the proposed action.”

Although DOE said it is not funding the wind turbines, the environmental effects of those turbines will be assessed as a connected action, as it is part of the overall action. “DOE’s proposed action would award a $1.85 million financial assistance grant to CCET to demonstrate battery technology integration with wind generated electricity by deploying and evaluating utility-scale lithium battery technology to improve grid performance and thereby aid in the integration of wind generation into the local electricity supply,” DOE said. “The estimated total cost of the project is $5.4 million.”

CCET is a consortium of 15 Texas electric and high-tech companies and five universities with a goal to modernize the Texas electric system. In 2010, Texas was the first state to reach 10,000 MW of wind capacity, and by 2020 it is expected that wind capacity will increase by an additional 10,000 MW, the draft EA said.

“Integrating this increasingly large, fluctuating energy source into the transmission grid, while maintaining system stability and reliability, is a challenge that will face Texas as well as other states as the United States moves to develop more renewable energy sources,” it added. “CCET envisions this being done through better system monitoring capabilities, enhanced operator visualization, and improved load management. To promote and demonstrate these objectives, the proposed project involves two primary components: (1) installation of batteries and distribution lines to transfer power from RTC to Erskine substation (DOE funded) and (2) install two wind turbines to generate energy to be transferred to the Erskine Substation (CCET funded).”

The site chosen for this project is a three-acre parcel of the RTC. This is vacant grasslands at the 2,467-acre former Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock County. With or without DOE-funded activities, the area is currently being developed for wind research. Without DOE funding, the three-acre area set aside for the storage battery facility and wind turbines could be used for additional RTC research activities.

The purpose of the batteries are to store power from the turbines for the CCET DOE research project and for optimum pricing on power sales to the grid. Lithium batteries provide stationary storage of wind-generated energy until it is needed by the grid. Stationary storage systems can be applied as an interim storage system for peak load balancing, DOE noted. During times of weak loads, wind electricity would be fed into the battery. At times of peak load, the energy from the wind generator and battery are fed into the grid.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.