In a power grid, system operators measure the balance between supply and demand by monitoring system frequency. Failure to operate the system within its required frequency (50 Hz in North America and parts of Asia; 60 Hz in the rest of the world) will result in the disruption of equipment operation, disconnection of power plants and large-scale blackouts. This issue takes on greater importance at high levels of solar power penetration. Importantly, a solar-plus-battery system with power electronics can mimic the characteristics of a synchronous generator to regulate the system frequency. Based on the frequency simulation test, it is observed that a solar-plus-battery system can respond quickly to utility signals i.e. Load Frequency Control (LFC) to help regulate the system frequency to a precision level of less than 0.2 Hz. In other words, by connecting a sufficient number of solar-plus-battery systems, a VPP or pseudo-energy storage application can be created to help manage the grid load on the thermal power plant.
Figure X: Frequency regulation using solar-plus-battery system
Source: NTU, 2012.
The results above also show the advantages of solar-plus-battery system when compared to a thermal power plant in terms of frequency regulation. A solar-plus-battery system requires less capacity than its fossil fuel equivalent due to its full negative and positive capacity for regulation. As a fast response resource, battery storage is capable of charging and discharging energy much faster and more accurately. A thermal power plant, on the other hand, is slower to respond to the operator signal and is restricted by a minimum operating level requirement, below which operation and maintenance (O&M) costs w...
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...o a smart device that is capable of deciding whether to export, when electricity prices are high or self-consume or store for latter times when prices are low.
The scenario will most likely change in the medium- to long-term. Most analysts expect the cost of large-scale lithium-ion battery storage to reach a tipping point of $230/kWh by 2020. Solar PV and battery prices are still dropping and the trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. According to an analysis by RMI, the cost of electricity for grid-connected battery-plus-battery systems rises little over time and will be competitive after 2020. Based on Figure X below which shows the outlook of five electricity markets in the US out to 2050, solar-plus-battery systems are capable of locking in peak electricity price and therefore insulate customers from rising retail grid prices in the long-term.
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