Columbus, Neb. – Funding for battery energy storage system (BESS) demonstration project is being sought by the Nebraska Public Power District and the City of Norfolk that would be tied to a proposed community solar project planned for that community in 2019.
That project is contingent on approval of a grant application submitted by NPPD to receive $490,000 in funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) for the two-year project. NPPD expects the NET grant proposal selections to be announced in the April 2019 time frame. If selected, and when completed, the BESS would be tied to a proposed community solar facility to be built in Norfolk and would be like the facility already operating in Kearney.
The City of Norfolk has committed to participate in the funding request as a grant partner and would be providing in-kind support providing the real estate for the project site, weekly inspections, and guiding public tours.
Dave Rich, NPPD sustainable energy manager, said that the BESS would be charged through the solar unit and discharged daily to accomplish several goals. “Some of those would be related to demand management, voltage support, and smoothing and shifting variable renewable energy generation,” he explained. The unit would store approximately the amount of electricity that a small home would use over the course of two months.
“Northeast Nebraska leads the state in renewable energy generation,” said Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning. “This first-of-its kind battery storage project positions Norfolk to lead the way in using the newest technologies to efficiently utilize renewable energy that’s created in our own backyard, keeps our electricity costs low, and grows new jobs and strengthens our regional economy.”
Rich explained that knowledge gained from the demonstration project could be reproduced by other Nebraska electrical utilities. Year one of the demonstration project would provide a summary of distribution benefits to NPPD’s wholesale and retail customers and members of the Nebraska Power Association, with year two providing a summary of production benefits to the same audience.
If NET awards the grant to and the community solar project moves forward in Norfolk, such a facility would probably be in operation sometime in late 2019.
“A key problem with electric generation is the U.S. electric grid has virtually no storage capacity, so grid operators can’t stockpile a surplus of clean energy and deliver it when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining,” he added. “Battery storage could be a step forward in this area.” Electric energy produced today is generated and delivered at the time it is consumed on a real-time basis.