General Electric’s steam, gas, and wind turbines make up a large portion of the world’s electricity generating capacity. The company announced last week that it will extend its battery storage solutions to all of its power plants worldwide. This combination of energy storage and gas turbines promises supportive flexibility for the global grid.
GE’s battery storage system links gas turbine peaker plants and batteries with sophisticated power management software. The software allows the utility to control how fast the battery discharges and how quickly the turbine needs to ramp up from full stop. With this integration, batteries are able to take up the slack to help plants meet peaks in market demand.
“The possibilities for these hybrid systems are endless,” GE executives explained. “Like hybrid cars, the addition of hybrid power plants creates new opportunities we never thought possible before. Turbines may not need to spin up as much and solar plants might be able to deliver a much more consistent supply onto the grid, even after sunset.”
In April, spurred by the Aliso Canyon gas shortage, Southern California Edison procured a variety of fast-responding batteries. The utility deployed the GE hybrid solution at two sites near Los Angeles. The units combined a 50-MW gas turbine, capable of reaching full power in about 5 minutes, and a 10-MW battery (composed of Lithium-ion cells) that lasts up to 30 minutes.
The hybrid plants have been effective in boosting response times. The batteries and controls integrated by GE allow the utility to draw from the power plant while the gas turbine kicks on.
“The new system delivered what we’d been looking for: immediate response capability from the peakers,” Vibhu Kaushik, principal manager of asset management and generation strategy at SCE told Diesel & Gas Turbine Worldwide.
As batteries become increasingly affordable, it seems to make more and more economic sense to deploy battery systems at power plants. And it becomes easier to imagine a future in which gas, wind, and solar generation sources are working in concert to produce energy efficiently and cost effectively.
What are your thoughts? Will the addition of energy storage and management software help bridge generation sources and distribution networks in the future?