The Smart Way to Upgrade Your Energy Storage System

Back to Top

Good Better Best written on chalkboard

You hear time and time again that energy storage deployments no longer represent a technology risk. They are a proven solution to increase grid reliability, with some systems still in peak operation nearly 10 years after their initial deployment. The challenge now isn’t to understand the benefits of adding energy storage to your grid, but it’s to maximize the return on investment you can receive from your existing deployments.

Today, when energy storage systems are designed and integrated, owners must consider all the different benefits they can receive from these systems. Such applications as renewable smoothing, peak shaving, frequency regulation, and T&D deferral provide the strongest returns on existing projects. Integrators such as S&C help project owners plan ahead to maximize their current and future benefits.

For projects that have been online for nearly a decade, it can be challenging to tap into additional benefits using only your original deployment. That is not to say it’s impossible. In fact, there are many options to achieve such goals. But some methods of upgrade are not only smarter, they represent a more cost-effective way to maximize the return on your existing system.

For some owners, a seemingly logical step is to reach out to a third-party provider to layer on additional software to access these benefits. A more streamlined and cost-effective option is to reach out to the original project integrator for their opinion first.

Many systems currently going through third-party software upgrades actually don’t need additional equipment to let them access additional application benefits, such as participation in a frequency-regulation market. They often just need a reconfiguration of the originally provided software. Owners could stumble through that process by going through a third party, but a complete energy storage integrator should have the technology to upgrade your system quickly, without significant impact to your bottom line.

Akin to ensuring you have a battery provider that is going to be in business for the life of your project, you want to make sure the energy storage integrator you are using will allow you access to future functionality without a major (and costly) upgrade. Before paying for an additional software layer for your system, check with your original system provider. You want to be sure there isn’t a way to provide those additional application services quickly and more cost effectively by unlocking the existing functionality that may already be present in the system you have been operating for years.

It’s simple. Don’t spend money to access these additional application benefits when you don’t have to. As an example, Pacific Gas and Electric was able to get two of the first operational assets in the CAISO frequency-regulation market using systems that had been online for more than 5 years; all without a major software upgrade. The original primary use cases for these facilities were peak shaving and improved grid reliability, but the other applications were present all along. They just needed to be activated by the original integrator.

What are some new features that you would like see out of your operating energy storage assets?


Erik Svanholm

Publication Date

May 17, 2017