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Storage as Core Infrastructure


In recent years, bulk energy storage has been applied to electric power systems as an auxiliary device for the support of grid reliability via grid services. This approach is useful but only extracts value from storage on a marginal basis because grid services involve only a tiny fraction of the power flowing in a grid. Uses of storage to date have improved grid reliability at the margins but have not changed the essential resilience characteristics of the grid. This is because they do not fully capitalize on the essential core value of storage: its use as the shock absorber for the grid.

The real value of storage is as a means to provide a key characteristic missing from power grids: the ability to absorb stresses with little or no loss of performance – the essence of resilience. To provide this value, storage must be incorporated into the grid as core infrastructure and must be deeply integrated into grid operations. Instead of creating a few giant centralized storage units, it is possible to create a distributed set of storage units where each unit is of a manageable size, and then control the set of storage units as a group, operated so as to provide system wide benefits as well as local benefits. In this arrangement, the storage capacity can be built up incrementally, but the operational impacts can be realized as the installed base grows.

In FY20, the Office of Electricity tasked PNNL with developing the value of storage as core infrastructure. The Value of Storage project provides a technical basis for this new storage paradigm, as well as an overview of the regulatory and valuation implications of embedded storage. This work includes the development of several white papers, testing of the theoretical concepts, stakeholder outreach, and field demonstration.

White Papers


Grid Architecture