Research at RESL

Our research focuses on advanced energy storage solutions to allow for increased penetration of renewable electricity generators beyond the widely-stated value of 20% by nameplate capacity. Each renewable resource is unique with regard to both geographical and time characteristics. Consider the following time-series plot of real data that has been normalized to fit on the same figure:

 

It is apparent that the cumulative renewable profile (red) does not track the electricity demand (black). Energy storage is a solution that allows excess renewable energy to be stored during period of peak production, and released during periods of peak demand.

Example modeling project

We set out to identify when a provincial electricity grid would require energy storage and what the characteristics (power, energy) of that storage would be. The objective was to minimize ramp-rates and peaks/valleys of the dispatchable generation (the difference between demand and renewable generation.

We found that failures would occur when we crossed several hundred MW/h ramp rate of several GW demand - limitations due to our provincial grid and generating stations. Considering a scenario of shutting down old coal-fired power-plants, we found 500 MWh of energy storage was required to avoid blackouts.

Example experimental project

We presently have two large-format battery packs at RESL. These are a 10 kWh lithium-ion pack and a 30 kWh lead-acid pack. We have been cycling them to track the provincial wind generators. Essentially we charge when the wind generation is high and discharge when it is low.

Recent teardown of failed A123 lithium cells