Over the past 10 years, as the United States has experienced a “renewable renaissance,” the market demand for greater efficiency and output has driven significant improvements in renewable technology. But as these system advances approach their natural limits, the renewable markets have already started transitioning towards the next major step of increasing the impact of wind and solar generation: Energy Storage. With the widespread integration of energy storage systems to many new wind and solar projects, the industry has entered the next stage of development- “renewable energy 2.0.”Many stakeholders, from small developers to large-scale utility providers are incorporating energy storage systems to maximize the flexibility of new facilities. In regions with variable “Time of Day” (TOD) pricing structures or unpredictable needs for intermittent grid support, energy storage can be a very profitable service in a rapidly evolving power market. Even without these variables, energy storage can increase the production window of a typical solar facility from 6-8 hours per day to 24 hours each day, depending on system design.
With the increase in technology and control system complexity, it is critical that owners test these additional systems to ensure excess power storage and supply systems perform reliably. With a strict reliance on weather patterns, solar energy requires a storage method that can absorb and store excess power produced during upswings. This energy storage method must also be able to quickly kick in and efficiently transfer that power to the grid when needed, sometimes almost instantly. Load bank testing offers a unique opportunity to ensure successful operations by load testing both a solar farm and their storage batteries.Current
State of Solar Storage
Energy storage systems are becoming widely used in both large and small solar energy facilities. For utility-scale solar storage, batteries are an effective solution because they can hold hundreds of megawatt-hours (MWh) in storage. Lithium battery technology has been the most widely used type of battery for renewable energy storage and is being adopted by utilities as a storage solution. Solar-powered lithium batteries are also becoming an economically viable and reliable resource for transmitting power to isolated grids and off-grid communities which may otherwise rely on imported electricity or expensive diesel backup for local power generation.
Load Bank Testing for Solar Storage Solutions
Before fully integrating a battery storage solution, solar energy providers must complete comprehensive testing to ensure these two technologies work together. The goal of load testing is to ensure the storage solutions have the capacity to store enough power and the ability to pushing that power to the grid when needed. Load bank testing is the most effective method to accomplish this.
During integration, every element of the inverter and solar modules as well as the battery storage solution itself must be tested to confirm equipment performance and functionality. Load bank testing allows for a solar system to be fully energized to efficiently and accurately test the facilities capacity at generating power and the batteries ability to store that power. Also, many facilities rely on control systems that automatically regulate the battery discharge to ensure continuous output when the PV system fluctuates during the day. Testing the response of these control systems is critical to ensuring the future performance of the entire facility. Grid Emulation using load banks offers complete control over every element of the facility test to ensure an accurate gauge of facility and storage performance.
The Comrent Advantage
Comrent’s breadth of experience and technology in both the solar and energy storage industries makes us an ideal partner for any solar projects that involve integrating an energy storage solution. Our solar experts leverage solar-specific load bank solutions and advanced remote technology to build a customized testing plan tailored to your facility and storage needs. Our expertise in supporting inverter testing from numerous manufacturers ensures that we can custom tailor a solution no matter what equipment you currently use. We know the specialized needs of the solar industry and have the technical expertise to deliver complete end-to-end solutions for every solar project.