South­ern Com­pany gath­ers to of­fi­cially open largest bat­tery stor­age fa­cil­ity in sys­tem

The Standard Journal - - LO­CAL - By KEVIN MYRICK Ed­i­tor

A megawatt of stored en­ergy is now avail­able right here in Polk County as part of a South­ern Com­pany project in part­ner­ship with sev­eral com­pa­nies to test how well elec­tric­ity might be kept for fu­ture use.

An hour-long cel­e­bra­tion at the so­lar fa­cil­ity at North­side In­dus­trial Park in Cedar­town with South­ern Com­pany of­fi­cials marked the kick­off of op­er­a­tions of the new bat­tery project.

The sys­tem is the largest bat­tery stor­age re­search project in the South­ern Com­pany sys­tem, and was de­signed with sev­eral com­pa­nies and groups in­clud­ing the Elec­tric Power Re­search In­sti­tute (EPRI) and LG Chem, who pro­vided the lithium-ion bat­tery tech­nol- ogy.

Sev­eral speak­ers from the South­ern Com­pany praised the new bat­tery tech­nol­ogy as a step for­ward to­ward fig­ur­ing out how to cap­ture the en­ergy gen­er­ated by re­new­able re­sources and save it for fu­ture use.

One of those was Rob Man­ning, EPRI vice pres­i­dent of power de­liv­ery and uti­liza­tion, who pointed out one of the ma­jor prob­lems with elec­tric gen­er­a­tion for more than a cen­tury has been its sin­gle pur­pose of gen­er­at­ing power and trans­mit­ting it im­me­di­ately to con­sumers. With the new bat­tery sys­tem in Cedar­town, it will pro­vide com­pa­nies like South­ern Com­pany the op­tion of stor­ing some of that ca­pac­ity and not hav­ing to rely solely on tra­di­tional sources of power, like us­ing coal or nat­u­ral gas for gen­er­a­tion.

“Our main goal has been to keep that del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween pro­duc­tion and sup­ply to con­sumers,” he said. “The rea­son we’ve done it that way for more than 100 years is be­cause we’ve never found an ef­fi­cient way to store elec­tric­ity.”

The new bat­tery is ca­pa­ble of stor­ing a megawatt of elec­tric­ity and will dis­trib­ute it over two hours when needed, pro­vid­ing 500 kilo­watts per hour, or enough to power about 500 homes. Then like a cell phone charger with a so­lar panel, it will reac­cu­mu­late elec­tric­ity for the next time it’s needed.

The bat­tery it­self – com­bined with sev­eral me­ter­ing sys­tems from Ge­or­gia Power and the South­ern Com­pany, along with a power con­verter sys­tem and a trans­former – is not much larger than a metal ship­ping con­tainer. What’s dif­fer­ent is the tech­nol­ogy packed in­side.

LG Chem – who de­signs bat­ter­ies for ev­ery­thing from con­sumer elec­tron­ics to elec­tric cars – pro­vided the same lithium-ion tech­nol­ogy but up­scaled for util­ity us­ages.

Clif­ford Black, who was project leader for South­ern Com­pany on the bat­tery stor­age fa­cil­ity, said that get­ting the bat­tery up and run­ning was just the first step for fig­ur­ing out how the sys­tem will work most ef­fi­ciently and even­tu­ally lead to sav­ings for con­sumers.

“We be­lieve that cost ef­fec­tive en­ergy stor­age will play a ma­jor role in how we’ll con­tinue to op­er­ate the grid,” he said. “There’s some flex­i­bil­i­ties that these kinds of en­ergy sources of­fer. They have the abil­ity to op­er­ate at the source and add en­ergy to the grid when needed, and the abil­ity to have volt­age con­trol. That makes en­ergy stor­age sys­tems, es­pe­cially pro­to­types like this unique.”

Nor­rie McKen­zie, the Ge­or­gia Power vice pres­i­dent of re­new­able devel­op­ment, told the of­fi­cials gath­ered for the rib­bon cut­ting that he hopes the pro­to­type bat­tery will go into pro­duc­tion and be put into use at much larger sites, like one in the But­ler, Ga., area that is 3,000 acres.

He pointed out that be­ing able to store some of the power gen­er­ated on sites like that will do much to help lower costs for cus­tomers in the fu­ture as more re­new­able re­sources come onto the grid.

“I hope that in the next few years I’ll be stand­ing in front of a much larger so­lar fa­cil­ity with a lot more of the bat­ter­ies be­hind me and talk­ing about how much more safe, how much more clean and im­por­tantly how much more af­ford­able we’re gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity in this way,” he said.

South­ern Com­pany also used the cer­e­mony as an op­por­tu­nity to show their ap­pre­ci­a­tion to many ex­ec­u­tives and lo­cal of­fi­cials in­volved in the project, in­clud­ing Cedar­town city man­ager Bill Fann and Polk County Cham­ber of Com­merce Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Ta­maka Hud­son.

Fann said he was thrilled that the project was wrap­ping up, and hoped that a pro­posal from In­man So­lar back in July to ex­pand the so­lar fa­cil­ity will bear fruit.

“We’re ex­cited to see re­new­able re­sources as a part of the In­dus­trial Park, and I think it’s note­wor­thy that it’s the largest bat­tery stor­age fa­cil­ity in their sys­tem,” Fann said.

The Cedar­town Plan­ning Com­mis­sion gave their ap­proval to In­man So­lar in mov­ing for­ward with the pro­posed ex­pan­sion dur­ing their July ses­sion, which would take up more acreage ad­ja­cent to the cur­rent so­lar fa­cil­ity and see more than 3,300 pan­els put up on the site.

Short tours of the fa­cil­ity were given to ex­ec­u­tives and lo­cal of­fi­cials fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony.

From left: Clif­ford Black, South­ern Com­pany Project Leader, Larry Mon­roe, South­ern Co. Chief En­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cer, Rob Man­ning EPRI vice pres­i­dent of power de­liv­ery and uti­liza­tion, Kim Green, South­ern Com­pany Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer and Nor­rie McKen­zie, Ge­or­gia Power vice pres­i­dent of re­new­able devel­op­ment, gath­ered for a photo to of­fi­cially add the largest bat­tery stor­age fa­cil­ity to the South­ern Com­pany’s power sys­tem.

Kim Green, South­ern Com­pany Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer and Larry Mon­roe, South­ern Com­pany chief en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cer, gave Cedar­town city man­ager Bill Fann an award of ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the city’s in­volve­ment in the new bat­tery stor­age fa­cil­ity at the North­side In­dus­trial Park.

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