IPL Cuts Ribbon on Giant Energy Storage System

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(Image Courtesy of IPL) (Image Courtesy of IPL)

Indianapolis Power & Light’s latest innovation in energy management is up and running: the first grid-scale energy storage system in the United States used to provide a reliability resource called primary frequency response. At its most basic, the new system is a giant battery - 20 megawatts - designed to support the integration of more diverse energy sources.

But IPL Director of Project Development Richard Benedict says the IPL Advancion® Energy Storage Array is much more than a huge lithium ion battery.

“As we change the mix of generation and get customers more involved, there’s more complexity to the grid. The grid is evolving, and we have tools to manage those complexities,” explains Benedict, referring to the electric distribution system. “For the grid to function, the amount of electricity produced and the amount of electricity consumed must be in balance for hundreds of thousands of customers. The  Advancion® Array is managed on a software basis in 80-kilowatt increments. It has a lot of ability to respond to big or small issues,” in terms of regulating the distribution of electricity.

Locally the Advancion® Array is known as the Harding Street Energy Storage System (HSS BESS). IPL says it provides frequency control much more efficiently than its predecessors. It is also the first grid-scale, battery-based energy storage system in the 15-state Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region, headquartered in Carmel.

“Historically, large central stations managed the balance of electricity on the grid,” Benedict says. “We’ve retired a lot of old central stations, others are still in use. With the addition of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, there are a lot more places where change can happen in the grid balance.”

Renewables aren’t as consistent as controlled energy generation, such as traditionally coal-fired sources. Regardless of levels of electricity coming in from varied sources, the battery can react to frequency deviations in milliseconds without any human intervention, and without any interruption to customer service.

IPL’s parent company, AES, was invited to join other companies, regulators and energy developers from eight states in efforts to promote smart electricity markets, greater grid integration of renewable energy and flexible resources such as energy storage. The 17 companies involved in the effort have planned projects which should result in at least 1.3 gigawatts of additional storage procurement or deployment in the next five years.

IPL Chief Executive Officer Rafael Sanchez says, “The way IPL is diversifying its energy mix will significantly reduce dependence on coal while keeping costs competitive.”

“Our customers are interested in reliability, safety, and the environmental aspects when it comes to electricity,” adds Benedict. “There are a lot of different directions and this is an evolution in that regard. I think it’s safe to say IPL and AES are being innovative and responding to a direction people want to go.”

Benedict says the Advancion® Array has garnered interest from all over the nation, and that IPL is excited  to continue working with MISO now and in the future on energy management efforts.

“This is a great project, and we’re proud to be a pioneer in this.”

IPL Director of Project Development Richard Benedict explains how the battery's node system manages individual problems.
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