"Duke Energy is at the forefront of battery energy storage, and our investment could increase as we identify projects that deliver benefits to our customers," said Rob Caldwell, president, Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology. "Utility-owned and operated projects in North Carolina and South Carolina will include a variety of system benefits that will help improve reliability for our customers and provide significant energy grid support for the region."
In the company's recent Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), Duke Energy outlined plans to deploy $500 million in battery storage projects in the Carolinas over the next 15 years – equal to about 300 megawatts of capacity. Combining battery storage from all utilities, North Carolina has only about 15 megawatts of battery storage capacity in operation, and far less in South Carolina.
As the grid operator, Duke Energy can maximize the versatility of storage beyond storing and dispatching of energy to include other customer and system benefits such as system balancing and deferral of traditional grid upgrades.
This week, the company filed for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity with the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a solar facility in the Hot Springs community of Madison County as part of a microgrid project.
The Hot Springs Microgrid project will consist of a 2-megawatt (AC) solar facility and a 4-megawatt lithium-based battery storage facility. The microgrid will provide a safe, cost-effective and reliable grid solution for serving the Hot Springs area, and provide energy and grid support to all customers. The project will defer ongoing maintenance of an existing distribution power line that serves the remote town.
The Hot Springs project is part Duke Energy's Western Carolinas Modernization Project, which involves on-going conversations with community partners to help advance a cleaner energy future for the region. It includes closing a half-century-old, coal-fired power plant in Asheville in 2019. The plant will be replaced with a cleaner natural gas-fired plant and distributed energy resources like solar power and battery storage.
In addition to battery storage projects planned or operating in Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Texas, Duke Energy is also operating and pursuing other projects in the Carolinas.
In the city of Asheville, a 9-megawatt lithium-ion battery system will be placed at a Duke Energy substation site in the Rock Hill community – near Sweeten Creek Road. The battery will primarily be used to help the electric system operate more efficiently and reliability for customers.
In Haywood County, Duke Energy has an innovative zinc-air battery installation that was recently highlighted nationally. The 95-kilowatt-hour zinc-air battery and 10-kilowatt solar installation serving a communications tower on Mount Sterling in the Smoky Mountains National Park has been operating for more than a year.