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An energy storage system has been installed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard as part of a smart grid demonstration project. The system, developed by Solar Grid Storage LLC, is part of the GridSTAR pilot program led by Pennsylvania State University, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., the U.S. Department of Energy and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The installation incorporates Solar Grid Storage's PowerFactor250 battery storage and power control system. The system is capable of 250 MWh of storage capacity, although only about 100 MWh are involved in the pilot. The GridSTAR system is intended to demonstrate how a utility could call on storage to provide power balancing and backup power services. There are plans to erect and connect a photovoltaic power generation system, but no date has been set for this.

In addition to energy storage, the GridSTAR Smart Grid Experience Center will feature a smart grid demonstration home, electric vehicle charging stations and an indoor-outdoor training facility. According to Tom Leyden, CEO of Solar Grid Storage, the key element is the dual-use inverter under the control of the utility that can charge and discharge the battery.

"The idea is that grid energy storage could bid into the ancillary services market," he says.

Leyden says Hurricane Sandy, which caused widespread and extended power outages when it struck the Northeast in October 2012, has heightened awareness among regional electricity producers and consumers alike about the vulnerability of the grid to extreme weather events. He contrasts this with the West Coast, where grid storage interest tends to stem from demand-reduction requirements.

In September, Solar Grid Storage completed a solar microgrid project for a real estate developer in Maryland that combined a 402 kW photovoltaic array and a grid-connected PowerFactor500 system with a 300 kWh capacity battery.

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