- Dominion Energy on Tuesday announced plans to launch four battery storage pilot projects in Virginia that will help the utility assess its storage technology needs to support future wind and solar generation and improve reliability.
- The pilot projects will total 16 MW and look at four specific storage applications, Dominion Vice President of Generation Construction Mark Mitchell told Utility Dive. If approved, the lithium-ion battery pilots will cost approximately $33 million to construct and be operational by December 2020.
- Virginia state law allows Dominion to invest in up to 30 MW of battery storage. That incentive, combined with falling battery storage costs made this the right time for Dominion to invest in the technology, said Mitchell.
Battery storage is expected to play a vital role in transforming the U.S. power grid toward a carbon-free future. Dominion currently operates traditional pumped-storage, but Mitchell says battery storage will present a new challenge.
"There are a lot of nuances in exactly how to operate those battery systems day-to-day," he said. "Now is the time for us to get hands-on experience with operating these systems."
Dominion, which plans to have 3,000 MW of wind and solar in operation or under development across its system by 2022, intends to evaluate the four battery storage pilots over a five-year period.
The utility filed its application for approval with state regulators Friday. The projects consist of:
- Powhatan County 10 MW and 2 MW systems at the Scott Solar facility;
- 2 MW system sited at an Ashland substation; and
- New Kent County 2 MW system sited at a substation.
According to Mitchell, all four pilot systems look at different and specific applications of battery storage, from peak shaving and optimizing power production to grid management and voltage and loading issues.
While Dominion in the PJM wholesale market does not deal with the "duck curve" phenomenon like utilities in California, Mitchell said decreasing battery prices and the utility's future expansion plans for renewables make this a good time to look at battery storage.
"Battery storage has made significant strides in recent years, in both efficiency and cost. These pilot projects will enable Dominion Energy to better understand how best to deploy batteries to help overcome the inherent fluctuation of wind and solar generation sources," Mitchell said in a statement.
Dominion is also looking at other battery technologies, such as flow batteries, he told Utility Dive.
"We are still on the journey here," Mitchell said. "Batteries aren't here and done. They continue to evolve and the applications continue to evolve."
Meanwhile, Dominion also issued a request for proposals for up to 500 MW of solar and onshore wind generation in Virginia.