- Duke Energy, Eversource and 25 other energy companies signed an energy storage corporate responsibility pledge and committed to participate in a taskforce to optimize safety standards, according to an announcement by the Energy Storage Association on Thursday.
- The pledge prioritizes the safety of employees and customers for energy storage resource deployment, integration and operation while striving to support the addition of "at least 35 GW of new energy storage by 2025." The commitment is made stronger by the participation of utilities and third-party developers, as their participation is crucial to "widespread deployment," ESA CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman told Utility Dive.
- Utilities and third-party storage developers pledged to contribute storage experts to a taskforce focused on responsible supply chain practices, potential operational hazards, end-of-life and recycling in the industry. The ESA formally launched its corporate responsibility initiative for the industry at its annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona last week.
The U.S. energy storage market is growing rapidly — expected to double this year after nearly doubling in 2018, according to Speakes-Backman.
The ESA initiative seeks to steer the storage industry from the pitfalls of expanding too quickly without safety standards.
"If you look at the trajectory of some other industries that kind of went gangbusters in growth but didn't take care of this at the early onset, there were some missteps," Speakes-Backman told Utility Dive.
Duke is planning to install about 400 MW of battery storage over the next decade based on its various integrated resource plans, spokesperson Randy Wheeless told Utility Dive. Duke also has a commercial arm that launched battery projects in Texas and Ohio.
"I think we can't do this energy storage widespread deployment without [utilities]. We can't do it without third parties either," Speakes-Backman said.
The company's emerging technology innovation center outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been testing storage technology over the past 10 years.
"Over the decade, we've probably piloted batteries from every manufacturer out there," Wheeless said. "Safety is a concern."
Duke is currently seeking regulatory approval for a solar-plus-battery project outside of Asheville. The Hot Springs Microgrid project will consist of a 2 MW solar facility and a 4 MW lithium-based battery storage facility.
The company also powers a communications tower in the Smoky Mountains with a microgrid. That facility pairs a 10 kW solar array with a 95 kWh zinc-air battery, "which doesn't have the fire hazard of a lithium-ion," Wheeless said.
The potential fire hazards of lithium-ion batteries, the leading battery storage technology, have separately spurred New York City to collaborate on a set of guidelines to streamline permitting for outdoor energy storage projects.
The taskforce's inaugural meeting focused on "potential operational hazards that arise in the deployment, integration and operation of energy storage resources, as well as recycling and end-of-life challenges," according to ESA.
ESA members include investor-owned utilities as well as electric cooperatives.
"I think this indicates a willingness and a fact that the entire industry, no matter what side you're coming from is interested in this issue," said Speakes-Backman.