Energy and sustainable development Uniting energy storage strategies with peak demand management

Aaditya Raman, P.Eng., Stantec

continue to introduce safety, economic and regulatory requirements to improve the reliability of these essential services and protect the communities and customers they serve. Te grid is now moving from large central generating stations towards distributed generation, spurred on by the investment in green energy and regulatory measures to encourage sustainability. While most of these sustainability efforts focus on items like renewable wind and solar energy, tree planting to offset carbon emissions, green building construction or installation of green roofs, an area that has often gone overlooked is peak demand management. What is peak demand? In terms of energy use, peak de-


mand describes a period where simultaneous consumer demand is at its strongest. Most utilities charge customers based on their individual peak demands, as, ultimately, utilities need to ensure they build enough generation, transmission, and distribution capacity to meet these peaks, even if they last for one hour per year. Peak demand management is typically managed through

demand conservation where energy utilities take control of residential customers’ air conditioners to cycle them on and off during periods of peak demand. For larger com- mercial or industrial customers, utilities institute programs to reduce their usage or shift manufacturing to periods of lower peak demand. While these are very effective means to conserve demand, solutions such as these might not work for every customer. Tis is where energy storage comes in. Energy storage is simply storing electricity for use at an-

other time. Tis can be as simple as a bank of batteries, or a larger containerized solution, or a more complex storage system like flywheels or pumped hydro. Storage solutions have been traditionally deployed in areas where renew- able energy sources like solar and wind power are used, to absorb the intermittence of renewable energy sources. Tey can also help shave peak demand by coming online during periods of high demand, and recharging during low demand periods, to even out the peaks and valleys of energy demand. Challenges with energy storage programs are financial in nature since the cost of deploying these solutions is not

n Manitoba, electrical utilities and the electrical grid, while over a hundred years old, have stayed in a con- stant state of evolution as local and federal governments

quite at grid parity. Tis extends return on investment pe- riods beyond the risk threshold of most financiers. Tere are also inconsistencies on how regulators view energy storage solutions. Tey are neither generators nor loads, and yet they both consume and release energy into the grid. Recently announced funding programs by the Federal Government to encourage sustainability and help achieve the country’s environmental commitments will provide much needed subsidies and grants to make projects such as these fiscally feasible. Energy storage also provides a valuable service to utili-

ties. As more and more utilities look to shut down existing fossil fuel assets, they also lose the ancillary services these assets provided in controlling voltage and frequency on the system. Energy storage solutions can provide these ancil-

lary services and are better than traditional generators because of their faster response times. Energy storage can be used to help shave the peaks off what would be associ- ated with the future load to essentially make substations behave like substations with larger transformers. Tis can extend the life of the transformers so that replacement can be deferred for say, another 10 years. Tis can also reduce system outages caused by excessive thermal spikes during peak demand periods. While a detailed benefit assessment and sustainable

advantages of deploying energy storage is outside the scope of this article, there is high possibility of a compelling busi- ness case to developing an energy storage project even with the current market dynamics provided government and R&D funding is appropriately leveraged.

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