Energy Storage Research Center
Focus & Recent Advancements
Without the ability to store electricity, generation must equal consumption. With the development and deployment of Energy Storage Systems (ESS), energy generated at one time can be used at another. Recent technology advancements in energy storage have increased the potential of ESS to serve a variety of service scenarios in electric power management. The ESS will ideally support multiple applications or “stacked benefits” in a single installation in order to achieve a competitive return on investment.
Southern Research, in collaboration with Southern Company and its Alabama Power subsidiary, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the State of Alabama, is developing a new Energy Storage Research Center (ESRC) focused on grid-scale energy storage (ES) applications in combination with renewables in the Southeastern US.
Based on the collaboration of Southern Research with the utility and energy storage industry, academia, government, and technology vendors, the new Energy Storage Research Center (ESRC) will develop joint energy storage research, demonstration and test projects focused on the Southeast as well as the U.S. overall. It will serve as an industry-wide resource to support emerging energy storage technologies. The ESRC will serve as an independent resource to provide third party services on energy storage systems for technology vendors and users as well as other stakeholder groups (e.g. financers and regulators). The ESRC will enable electric systems engineers/planners, energy storage system vendors, and investors to mature energy storage systems and provide for economic growth and development in the emerging energy storage market.
Capabilities and Expertise
The purpose of the ESRC is to provide independent, third party, research and testing as well as engineering and economic assessment for ES technologies and use cases important for and unique to the Southeast. Technologies and applications relevant at utility scale are the primary focus. Southern Research has initiated work to identify ES testing capabilities and needs nationwide, as well as defining technology specific use cases and risks relevant to Southeastern utility service areas. This effort will inform identification of regionally prioritized ES target attributes and corresponding test and verification strategies. The results will serve as the basis for the ESRC facility infrastructure requirements and test protocols, with the goal of developing consensus test protocols that address all stakeholder information needs and priorities.
Southeastern Solar Research Center
In collaboration with EPRI and Southern Company, including its subsidiary Alabama Power, Southern Research completed the Southeastern Solar Research Center (SSRC) at Southern Research’s Oxmoor campus in Birmingham, Alabama, in June 2014. The SSRC was built to study the climatic effects in the southeastern U.S. — high levels of heat, humidity, precipitation, and pollen — on the performance of photovoltaic (PV) systems. Situated on six acres, the SSRC features multiple configurations of PV solar panel arrays, microinverters, and an advanced energy-monitoring system. Our team has extensive technical experience that allows us to test photovoltaic modules under commercially relevant field and laboratory conditions. We have capabilities to assess PV module power performance under normal operating conditions and under stress scenarios that simulate extreme weather events and accelerated aging protocols.
Southeast Energy Storage Symposium
The Southeast Energy Storage Symposium was hosted by Southern Research on September 27-28, 2017. It brought together leaders and professionals from the energy sector, particularly from the energy storage and renewables industry. Speakers and attendees included experts from the Department of Energy (DOE), National Laboratories, Southern Company and other Southeast utilities, manufacturers, and regulators.
The energy storage landscape in the Southeast is building momentum and forging a path for continued growth of energy storage markets, policy and technology. The conference agenda included multiple moderated panels that offered a variety of perspectives from leaders in utilities, research, manufacturing, policy, and industry on their insights into energy storage and renewables in the Southeast. In addition, conference registrants were led on special tours of the Southeast Solar Research Center and the Energy Storage Research Center at Southern Research.