Energy storage systems provide numerous advantages for building owners and commercial power users. These include lowering demand charges, energy arbitrage (buying low and selling high), peak shaving, network stabilization, and supporting integration of renewables. Depending on the type of system, front-of-the-meter or behind-the-meter, they can also help relieve grid congestion, extend infrastructure life, and advance toward a distributed energy future.
Energy storage can help to stabilize the electricity grid in multiple ways, from maximizing renewable energy utilization to load balancing and backup power supply. It also helps mitigate weather variability’s effect on intermittent generation sources, ensuring maximum value. Energy storage systems can also help to reduce peak demand during high electricity use times.
Energy Storage System (ESS) technologies such as batteries, flywheels, and supercapacitors can quickly respond to electricity demand fluctuations on sub-hourly timescales – from a few minutes to fractions of a second. This can prevent electricity surges and reduce transmission and distribution (T&D) charges for commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers.
ESS technologies can be deployed as grid-scale, front-of-the-meter (FTM), or behind-the-meter (BTM). FTM ESS can support utilities in relieving congestion on aging grid infrastructure and boosting resilience. BTM ESS can provide balancing services, help minimize grid impact from electric vehicles (EVs), and even earn revenue. They can also empower C&I customers to optimize their electricity consumption in response to prices and needs.
Energy storage systems help stabilize power grids, integrate renewables, enable time shifting and microgrids, provide backup power, support electric vehicle charging, and reduce facility energy costs.
With storage, balancing electricity supply and demand is easier for grid operators because the generation amount can vary widely depending on the weather (e.g., after sunset or cloudy days). With storage, a power plant can be turned off during these times and back on later to meet demand.
Energy storage systems also reduce the need to build new infrastructure (power lines) by increasing capacity and resiliency on the grid at strategic points. For example, intelligently deployed energy storage provides ancillary services for the electric grid, including Frequency Regulation and Operating Reserves, to avoid upgrading expensive transmission or distribution lines. Energy storage systems also mitigate the impact of outages by providing localized backup power in places prone to frequent outages or remote locations with limited access to the grid. This makes it possible to continue critical operations even when the grid goes down, accelerating the transition toward a 100% renewable energy economy.
Energy storage systems are flexible and can match supply with demand for a balanced electricity grid. This flexibility allows for integrating renewables like solar and wind with variable generation output and balancing electricity loads, including after sunset and on cloudy days.
Behind-the-meter battery storage enables organizations to save on electric bills and maximize renewable energy consumption by storing excess power during low-demand periods. It also provides backup power during grid outages and makes facilities more resilient.
Advanced batteries and other technologies are allowing us to make much greater use of energy storage as part of the overall grid system. These technologies allow for greater system flexibility, which is key as we continue to increase the share of variable renewables in our energy mix. It is essential to understand that more than energy storage is needed to address these challenges; we need all sources of system flexibility. This includes expanding transmission, increasing conventional generation flexibility, and changing operating procedures.
Energy storage systems can deliver electricity at just the right time and place. They can make renewable power available when needed, address solar or wind intermittency, and provide backup power in a grid outage. They can also help stabilize the grid and lower peak power demand and electricity costs.
Today’s batteries can store direct current (DC) through equipment that converts AC power into DC and back again into alternating current (AC). The energy stored in the battery is then transferred to the power system using an inverter to customers’ homes or businesses. Energy storage systems can be located either in front or behind the meter.
Front-of-the-meter energy storage can enable building owners to save money on their electricity bills by storing excess renewable energy during low-demand periods and discharging it during high-demand periods. They can also enable buildings to become self-sufficient and less reliant on the grid, increasing sustainability. Behind-the-meter energy storage can allow commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers to take advantage of peak shaving, arbitrage, and demand response opportunities.
As the power industry shifts to lower-carbon, renewable sources, we must find ways to maximize the benefits of these technologies without compromising grid reliability. Energy storage systems are a perfect solution for this. They are instantaneously dispatchable to function as both generation and load, optimizing grid efficiency and alleviating transmission congestion.
The cost of battery storage technologies—including lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and residential applications—has fallen significantly over the past decade. As the technology matures, this cost reduction is expected to continue.
As a result, these systems can be deployed at the distribution level to provide customer energy services, including peak shaving, load management, and backup power. Energy storage also enables new grid services, such as second-to-second power quality maintenance and black start support, reducing the need for additional costly generators.