Duke to help out with battery storage research in Indiana

Storing energy from the sun and wind and using it efficiently on the electric grid will be the focus of new research at Southern Indiana’s Battery Innovation Center (BIC) near the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, said Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) in a March 30 announcement.

Duke Energy and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) are partnering with the Battery Innovation Center to advance energy storage research, particularly as it applies to homes and communities. The initiative is part of a 2012 regulatory settlement between the OUCC and Duke Energy, which has an Indiana utility subsidiary called Duke Energy Indiana.

“Through this new partnership between the OUCC, BIC and Duke Energy, Indiana will continue to grow the public/private partnerships necessary to bring together the talent and resources to make our state a leader in energy storage,” said Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who made the announcement from the Indiana Statehouse on Marchh 30.

Duke Energy is funding $1 million in research at the Battery Innovation Center to study how battery storage can maximize renewable power sources such as rooftop solar panels and small wind turbines and integrate them into the electric grid. 

“Electricity is a unique commodity because it must be produced at the exact time it’s needed,” said Duke Energy Indiana President Doug Esamann. “Technology that can store energy is a way to advance renewable energy sources such as wind and solar which are clean, but not always available when power is needed. We believe the research we’re announcing today can pay dividends for our customers in the future.”

The project also includes installing energy storage systems at two schools served by Duke Energy, preferably with renewable energy sources already on site. The systems will test the benefits of energy storage and serve as a living learning lab for students. The schools have not yet been selected.

“At the heart of energy security is having renewable energy available based on demand as opposed to only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing,” said Battery Innovation Center President David Roberts. “We’ll be able to simulate the electric grid with this project and evaluate hardware and battery options while improving the software that controls smaller-scale renewable generation.”  

After the project lab is created, the Battery Innovation Center expects to begin testing this fall. The school programs will begin by winter, and testing will continue into 2016.

“The technology the center will study has the potential to benefit all electric consumers,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “Promoting the reliability of renewable resources into the energy mix when needed is a crucial element in enhancing the quality of everyone’s daily lives.”

Some areas the project will study are:

  • How renewable energy generated at homes and businesses can be stored and used at a later time to meet a home’s or community’s needs.
  • How energy storage can compensate for the effects of weather on renewable energy sources.
  • How storage systems can be a backup source of energy if there are supply shortages or disruptions on the electric grid.

The Battery Innovation Center is a public-private partnership and not-for-profit organization that incorporates leadership from world-class universities, commercial enterprises, and government organizations to focus on the rapid development, testing and commercialization of safe, reliable and lighter weight energy storage systems for commercial and defense organizations. Located adjacent to Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, the Battery Innovation Center provides both a virtual collaborative network of capabilities needed for development of next generation energy storage solutions as well as a new, state-of-the-art, $15.6 million energy research lab.

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.