This April, a CNESA-organized group totaling 15 representatives from Guangdong Power Grid and CGGC-UN Power traveled to Denver, Colorado as part our alliance partner's event, the Energy Storage Association 27th Annual Conference & Expo. Over a packed seven-day itinerary, our delegates attended conference seminars, toured national research facilities, and met with some of the country’s leading figures in the storage industry.
The conference, sponsored by RES and Xcel Energy, included over 2,000 attendees, 70 exhibitors, and 160 speakers in three days of official events. Our trip also came at a crucial time during the US industry development. As AES Energy Storage co-founder and President John Zahurancik noted, “While it took us 9 years to install the first 100 MWh's of energy storage capacity in PJM, we just completed more than that in California in under 5 months. This growth and acceleration are immense, in the US and around the globe. We are changing the way that utilities and grid operators think about the grid - building towards 35 GW's by 2025 and beyond."
ESA Director, Matt Roberts, continued with a call for 35 GW of installed energy storage in the United States by 2025.
On the Expo Floor:
Among ESA’s 70+ exhibitors Guangdong Power Grid benefitted from a booth providing a platform to meet with representatives from national laboratories, non-profits, and leading industries. In particular, it was intriguiging to see so many storage providers working outside of the battery-sphere, which currently dominates both the Chinese and global energy storage market.
Of CNESA’s 140+ alliance members, we also ran into representatives from member companies BYD, Sunwoda, NR Electric, LG Chem, Samsung, Sungrow, ABB, Parker Hannafin.
Panasonic Pena NEXT Station and Microgrid:
Our first site tour of the trip brought us to Panasonic’s Pena NEXT Station and Microgrid demonstration project. Located along the rail line linking Denver International Airport with downtown Denver, Pena NEXT has become a testing ground for energy storage, renewables grid integration, and smart network microgrids under a newly forged public-private partnership among Panasonic, Xcel Energy, and the City of Denver. The first stage of the project development includes an 800-space PV-covered carport owned by the Denver International Airport and Panasonic’s U.S. operations hub. The site also features smart, IoT-enabled street lights operated in conjunction with the University of Chicago/Argonne National Laboratory and 1 MW/2MWh lithium-ion battery system installed by Younicos.
The project has been granted $10.3 million in funding Colorado Innovation Clean Technology (ICT) Program. Denver International Airport in turn purchased ownership of the carport for $2.7 million and Panasonic contributed $1.7 million in the rooftop solar PV installation along with other consruction, maintenance, and labor costs (excluding the new Panasonic facility).
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, with its main campus in Golden Colorado, is the Department of Energy’s central laboratory for renewable energy research in the United States. During our visit we had the pleasure of speaking with the head of international programs, Dr. John Barnett, who introduced scope of NREL’s international projects including their collaborations with the Chinese National Energy Administration and the National Development and Reform Commission. We then listened to presentations from two researchers focusing on optimizing lithium-ion batteries and the laboratory’s work in hydrogen fuel research.
Our visit wrapped up with a tour of the NREL’s Energy System’s Integration Facility which provides a controlled laboratory environment in which the properties of integration of both residential and commercial loads can be investigated and optimized.
NREL National Wind Technology Center:
The NREL also maintains the National Wind Technology Center focusing on wind technology and comprehensive equipment testing and certification. During this visit we saw the world’s sole facility with two dynamometers fully integrated with wind and solar in the field. The site also includes a 1 MW/1 MWh lithium-ion battery system installed by RES.
University of Colorado Boulder:
During our final visit we headed to University of Colorado, Boulder campus to speak with Professor Frank Barnes who previously headed the Electrical Grid and Energy Storage Research Group at the university. During the visit our representatives discussed the status of compressed air energy storage systems development in the United States along with potentials for CAES systems in China.
Energy Storage Association is America’s nation-wide industry association representing over 225 companies. As co-founding members of the Global Energy Storage Alliance, ESA and CNSEA have worked closely together and look forward to future collaborations. We would like to extend a big thank-you to our hosts at ESA, the NREL facilities, Panasonic, and University of Colorado Boulder.