App assesses value of energy storage for businesses, utilities

Utility companies and corporate project developers have now been helped to assess how much money they will save by adding energy storage systems, thanks to the new Sandia National Laboratories software.

A software called Quest can also be used by energy researchers to evaluate various energy storage scenarios and model the potential of new solutions. Energy storage systems are important for capturing energy when it is produced and saving it when needed.

Many renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, do not produce electricity throughout the day, every day. Energy storage systems, including lithium-ion-battery-based design and pump-storage hydropower, can increase the stability, reliability, and flexibility of the power grid.

“We are providing an easy-to-use, open-source software suite that people can use for their energy storage analysis,” said Babu Chalamala, manager of Sandia’s energy storage research program.

“They can be small utilities or co-ops, vertically integrated utility companies or a project developer who wants to use energy storage. They can take this application suite and evaluate it for their particular project needs. Does energy storage make sense? And, if so, what is the cost-benefit analysis? Quest can help with all of those things. ”

Imre Gyuk, who directs the energy storage program at the power office of the Department of Energy, agrees with Chalamala.

“In our state-of-the-art storage installation, we start by modeling the business case with Quest,” Gyuk said. “If the results look promising for us and our project partners, we move forward with the venture. After completion, we monitor the system using Quest to guide and optimize the benefits.”

Equipment for power users, producers

The software suite currently has two key tools: a behind the meter analysis tool for businesses or civic infrastructure, such as a market-analysis tool to help schools and hospitals and utility companies assess whether an energy How much revenue will the storage system generate.

With the meter-behind analysis tool, business owners or city project managers can estimate how much money an energy storage system will save them when combined with solar panels or other power generators, said Tu Nguyen, a Sandia electrical engineer , Who led the development of optimization algorithms outlining Quest.

First, the consumer inputs their location and the rate structure they pay. Often, power utilities charge more per kilowatt-hour during certain times of the day when demand is high.

By reducing their electricity usage during busy times, energy storage offers savvy customers big savings on their electricity bills. Nguyen said consumers can also input the kind of renewable energy system they own or want to install.

Credit: Sandia National Laboratories

“For example, a homeowner or a warehouse manager who knows nothing about energy storage but wants to install it on their roof for solar panels can use Quest’s streamlined process to find out How much money will the energy storage system save them in a year, ”said Nguyen

The market-analysis tool looks at the other side of the equation. It was designed to provide small utility companies with how much revenue an energy storage system would generate by providing services to increase grid stability and reliability.

The equipment has historical data for seven energy markets in North America, including the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and California Independent Systems Operators, each with varying market conditions.

The Sandia team also provides assistance to new users to run software in the form of webinars, tutorials, and even to help develop new tools to answer various questions.

“Quest provides a much easier way to get at least a first estimate of revenue potential, or cost savings, an energy storage system can generate,” said Rodrigo Trevison, an electrical engineer on the project. His goal is to add new tools and capabilities to make quests more flexible and useful.

Quest expanded to answer new questions

In partnership with PNM, New Mexico’s largest electricity provider, the Quest team to develop software tools to help vertically integrated utility companies assess various paths to achieve reliable 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045 Is working for A vertically integrated utility company both generates electricity and sends and sells it to customers.

Nguyen said the Quest team has begun investigating the costs and benefits of adding energy storage to the New Mexico grid, compared to the expansion of transmission-infrastructure for improved transportation power from renewable energy power plants to cities .