Demonstrating a Battery's Benefits

Demonstrating a Battery's Benefits

The smart grid means many things to different people. Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) is demonstrating several technologies in its Innovation Park in midtown Kansas City, Mo.

In 2011, KCP&L was awarded a $24 million Smart Grid Demonstration Project grant by the U.S. Department of Energy. "This is really an R&D project," says Lucas McIntosh, Burns & McDonnell senior project manager. "One of the objectives is to push the envelope on integrating all these new systems and technologies using the latest industry standards."

One of the most prominent features at the Innovation Park is the 1 megawatt/1 megawatt-hour-rated Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). The BESS, which comprises 5,488 lithium polymer pouch cells, is linked to a feeder from the utility's Midtown Substation. Burns & McDonnell has provided overall project management and technical support for the battery, as well as design of a battery automation controller.

The BESS is being used to demonstrate four storage applications. The most frequent use is for load shifting: taking excess generation during off-peak hours and making it available at busier times. Peak shaving is a way to compensate for short-term spikes in the demand curve. The battery can support volt/VAR compensation, which improves power quality. And under circuit islanding, the battery can pick up the slack temporarily if service from the substation is severed.

Batteries can be used in numerous ways, but not all simultaneously. One of the goals of the demonstration project is to determine how to optimize the battery's usage.

Part of the project involves integrating control devices and standardizing their communications, reducing dependence on customized middleware, but the standards have not been fully developed and published.

"The Distribution Management System (DMS) acts as a command and control center for the distribution system, and it can help automate and analyze use of distribution assets, including the battery," says Matt Olson, Burns & McDonnell manager of telecommunications and network engineering. "The challenge is to integrate the controls so that simple operator commands ultimately can drive complicated sequences of calculations and adjustments."

The BESS is performing as expected, but so far it is being operated manually as the DMS implementation is finalized. Developing safety protocols, preparing personnel for the data-centric approach and getting automated control options online are still works in progress.

For more information, contact Lucas McIntosh, 816-823-6214, or Matt Olson, 816-349-6608.

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