AEP installs megawatt battery

American Electric Power and two corporate partners recently finalised an agreement to install the first megawatt-class advanced energy storage technology to be used on a US distribution system.

A 1.2-megawatt, stationary sodium sulphur (NAS) battery-based system will be installed at an Appalachian Power substation near Charleston, West Virginia, and will be operating by early summer of 2006, before summer peak demand. Appalachian Power is an AEP operating unit. The installation is expected to delay the need for equipment upgrades to the facility by six to seven years, allowing that capital expense to be deferred.

AEP’s partners in the agreement are Japan’s NGK Insulators (NGK) and Chicago-based S&C Electric Company. NGK’s NAS Battery Division will provide the NAS battery and S&C’s Power Quality Products Division will supply the power electronics and serve as system integrator.

The US Department of Energy (DOE), through Sandia National Laboratories, is a supporting sponsor and will contribute to the funding of the project.

This peak-shaving unit is capable of supplying 7.2 megawatt-hours of energy. The battery is expected to last 15 years or 4,000 to 5,000 charge-discharge cycles at 90 percent of full energy capacity.

After the unit has operated six or seven years, AEP will analyse its equipment upgrade options and consider moving the NAS system to another site.

“We’re delighted to install the first commercial-scale application of this technology in the United States,” said Dana Waldo, president and chief operating officer of Appalachian Power. “Its performance should provide valuable information about potential uses elsewhere in the AEP system.”

“Distributed energy storage helps us use our distribution, transmission and generation assets more efficiently,” said Craig Rhoades, vice president–distribution services for AEP. “While our long-term goal is to consider use of distributed energy storage systems throughout AEP’s distribution grid, our short-term objective is to deploy them selectively, based on energy cost savings and on where we can defer upgrades to our distribution system without compromising safety or reliability.”

A similar, but much smaller, NAS-based system installed three years ago at an AEP office park near Columbus in Gahanna, Ohio, was the first US demonstration of the NAS technology. That unit continues to serve the energy and power-quality needs of the Gahanna site.