Just like I don’t usually cover financial results, I also don’t usually cover “wins.” Especially in the process systems business, PR people rush out releases for every new order. But in the case of these two from ABB, it signifies not only a trend, but a potential solution to a vexing problem especially with alternative energy sources.

The problem with solar and wind generation of electricity is that the peak generation from those sources seldom coincides with the time of peak demand. So, while there is some help to the grid, they do not alleviate the peak demand generating capacity problem–which is also generation at its most inefficient.

One potential solution is to find a way to store the excess electricity generated by these sources to be used when really needed. ABB is working on lithium-ion battery technology at large scale to tackle this problem.

In the first release, it announced it will partner with EKZ, a Swiss distribution utility, on a pioneering energy storage pilot project, said to be the largest of its kind in Switzerland.

Located in Dietikon, the pilot storage facility will be integrated into the utility’s power distribution network and evaluated in key areas such as balancing peak loads, intermittent power supply, and the viability of such a solution for grid optimization.

“Storage will play a key role in the evolution of more flexible and smarter grids as we address the challenge of accommodating growing amounts of intermittent renewable energies like solar and wind power,” said Oleg Aleinikov, head of ABB’s substations business, a part of the company’s Power Systems division.

ABB will supply and install the one megawatt lithium-ion battery-based solution with an initial capacity to store 350-500 kWhs (kilowatt hours) of electricity providing additional power to the grid on demand. EKZ will evaluate the connection and behavior of grid-linked battery storage and monitor various operational and economic parameters. The pilot is scheduled to be energized by the end of 2011 when EKZ will take over the operations.

In the second release, ABB announced it has commissioned its first DynaPeaQ energy storage installation for UK Power Networks at a site north of Hemsby in Norfolk, England.

DynaPeaQ was recently launched by ABB and is part of its family of FACTS (flexible alternating current transmission systems). It is a combination of SVC Light (static var compensator) technology with a highly scalable lithium-ion battery storage capability.

As part of the solution, renewable wind-generated energy from a local village will be fed into the power network. Some of this energy will be kept in reserve to support power supplies in the event of a fault, or to regulate the power flow to compensate for the intermittence of wind power. The ABB system includes eight stacks of 13 lithium-ion battery modules housed in a 25 sq. meter building. The modules will be continually charged and discharged, and can store up to 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electrical energy.

“DynaPeaQ is an innovative technology that advances the integration of renewable power generation, especially in weak electrical networks,” said Martin Gross, head of ABB’s Grid Systems business, part of the company’s Power Systems division. “It can play a useful role in the development of more flexible, reliable and smarter grids.”

DynaPeaQ technology enables dynamic control of power in the transmission system, improving grid voltage and stability, and leveling out power fluctuations in the case of renewable energies. The rated power and storage capacity is typically about 20 megawatt (MW) for approximately 15-45 minutes, but DynaPeaQ technology can be scaled up to 50 MW of power for 60 minutes and more.

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