Department of Energy

Smoothing Renewable Wind Energy in Texas

April 9, 2013

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The Notrees Wind Storage Demonstration Project is a 36-megawatt energy storage and power management system, which completed testing and became fully operational in December. It shows how energy storage can moderate the intermittent nature of wind by storing excess energy when the wind is blowing and making it available later to the electric grid to meet customer demand.

The Notrees Wind Storage Demonstration Project is a 36-megawatt energy storage and power management system, which completed testing and became fully operational in December. It shows how energy storage can moderate the intermittent nature of wind by storing excess energy when the wind is blowing and making it available later to the electric grid to meet customer demand.

Last month, a small west Texas town was the site of an important first: The commissioning of North America's largest battery storage project at a wind farm. The Notrees Wind Storage Demonstration Project has implications that may eventually ripple across America, from moving us closer to realizing the potential of renewable energy to improving the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid and increasing our energy independence.

The Notrees Project is one of 16 energy storage demonstration projects supported by the Department under its Recovery Act-funded Smart Grid Energy Storage Demonstration Program. The project received $22 million from DOE, which was matched by $22 million from Duke Energy, for a total of $44 million. The system integration was performed by Xtreme Power.  

The 36-megawatt energy storage and power management system, which completed testing and became fully operational in December, shows how energy storage can moderate the intermittent nature of wind by storing excess energy when the wind is blowing and making it available later to the electric grid to meet customer demand. 

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama described the progress we have made -- such as doubling the amount of energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar -- and urged us to generate more electricity with wind and drive the cost of solar power down even further. Demonstrating the benefits of advanced energy storage technologies such as those used at Notrees can help accelerate the further deployment of renewables. 

The Notrees project is an important pilot project using storage to help stabilize the frequency of electricity provided to the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages approximately 85 percent of the state’s electric load. The Notrees project is expected to help facilitate broader adoption of energy solutions by providing a model for industry to follow. Widespread adoption, in turn, should provide alternatives to fossil-fueled energy -- further reducing our dependence on foreign oil -- and additional resources to the grid, ultimately leading to a more stable electricity delivery system and lower cost.

An example of another Smart Grid Energy Storage Demonstration Program recipient capturing the attention of industry is Aquion Energy which announced last week that it has received $35 million in venture capital funding to support the commercialization and launch of novel energy storage systems.

Finally, one last important element not to be lost in the conversation: last month’s ribbon-cutting event, where I had the pleasure of representing the Department, marked the successful culmination of collaborative efforts between Duke, the Department, national laboratories, private companies and electricity delivery system operators. Partnerships such as these are vital to continue moving the nation closer to a cleaner, stronger and more secure energy future.