Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) intends to match a $22 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to design, build and install large-scale batteries to store wind energy at one of its wind farms in Texas.
The batteries at Duke Energy's Notrees Windpower Project in Ector and Winkler counties, Texas, will store excess wind energy and discharge it whenever demand for electricity is highest - not just when wind turbine blades are turning.
The prevailing technology used at wind and solar farms throughout the world allows electricity to be produced only when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. The intent of the Notrees grant is to demonstrate how energy storage can help overcome this issue, often referred to as "intermittency."
Meeting demand for energy with stored renewable power instead of electricity from conventional generation sites that burn coal or natural gas may also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Energy storage truly has the potential to serve as a 'game-changer' when it comes to renewable power," said Wouter van Kempen, president of Duke Energy Generation Services, a Duke Energy unit that owns and develops renewable energy assets. "Through this project, Duke Energy intends to show that renewables can play an even bigger role in our country's energy future."
This project represents one of the nation's first demonstrations of energy storage at a utility-scale wind farm. The 95 wind turbines in operation at Duke Energy's Notrees site can generate 151 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable electricity. In April 2009, Walmart began purchasing energy directly from the Notrees project to power up to 15 percent of its stores and facilities in Texas.
The total value of the 20-MW energy storage project at Duke Energy's Notrees site is $43.6 million.
The DOE grant was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, known informally as the federal stimulus program. Duke Energy and DOE must negotiate the terms and conditions of the grant before any funds are released.
In addition, Duke Energy will work with the Energy Reliability Council of Texas to understand the project's implications and establish requirements for its implementation.
The Electric Power Research Institute will provide advisory services to Duke Energy throughout the development of this energy storage project.
Duke Energy Generation Services (DEGS) develops, owns and operates electric generation for large energy consumers, municipalities, utilities and industrial facilities. DEGS specializes in developing innovative and environmentally sound generation solutions using a variety of fuels, including wind and other renewable energy sources. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company. More information is available at www.duke-energy.com.