NERC Encourages Utilities to Prepare for Battery Growth

A February 2021 report published by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Atlanta, “Impacts of Electrochemical Utility-Scale Battery Energy Storage Systems on the Bulk Power System,” predicts that these battery systems will become major contributors to electric grid reliability.

The report emphasizes some of the potential reliability benefits that battery energy storage can offer, such as providing peak capacity, reducing the need for new generation and transmission infrastructure and providing essential reliability services, including frequency response, ramping and voltage support.

“North America currently has less then 2 GW of battery storage, but that capacity is projected to increase 100% to 4 GW by 2023,” said Thomas Coleman, NERC’s chief technical advisor of engineering and standards. “The rapid transformation of the transmission grid to meet carbon goals while maintaining reliability, security, and resilience is a primary focus for industry and regulators. It is abundantly clear that battery energy storage systems have a key role in accomplishing that goal.”

Based on its findings, NERC is recommending the following to the electric utility industry:

  • System planners should prepare for a significant increase in the critical mass of battery storage. They should also ensure that deployed battery storage provides the necessary essential reliability services to maintain bulk power system reliability, security and resilience.
  • As regulators provide more incentives for the viability of battery storage to provide capacity and energy, system planners must adequately plan for a projected large increase in battery storage while understanding the impact of size, location and operating characteristics on maintaining the reliable operation of the grid.
  • The value of battery storage as a complement to variable energy resources, such as wind and solar, should be fully understood by system planners and operators. System planners must conduct adequate studies to determine the dynamic stability impacts of battery storage interconnection, the capability to provide capacity to meet long-term and contingency reserve margin requirements and the ability to provide essential reliability services.

Finally, the report suggests that the NERC Reliability and Security Technical Committee should form a task force to study the forward-looking implications of battery energy storage systems and their overall effects on bulk power system reliability and resilience.

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