Smart Grid

October 16, 2012

Li-ion Energy Storage Technology Roars into Kansas City

Three Missouri-based companies—the utility KCP&L, the not-for-profit research center MRIGlobal and the engineering firm Exergonix Inc— have installed and are testing a new smart grid advanced lithium-ion (Li-ion) energy storage technology called a nano-battery cell in Kansas City.

KCP&L currently services more than 800,000 customers in 47 northwestern Missouri and eastern Kansas counties—a territory of about 18,000 square miles. Delivering that power requires 3,000 miles of transmission lines, over 24,000 miles of distribution lines and 320 substations. The full-service utility is considering the effectiveness of the nano-battery for managing energy on the electric grid.

Developed by Exergonix at its Lee’s Summit -based headquarters in the Kansas City metropolitan area, the patented one-megawatt (MW) lithium ion storage system, which integrates a high energy density battery and advanced electronic controls, is in its first live smart grid trial. It was installed this past summer at the KCP&L SmartGrid Innovation Park in Kansas City, which is part of an educational effort to explain new technology in the urban core and to help consumers get smarter about energy. The battery will support KCP&L’s SmartGrid Demonstration Area, which encompasses the MRIGlobal facilities in Kansas City. 

The battery stores solar energy produced in the SmartGrid Demonstration Area, and is used to support energy delivery during peak demand times of the day. KCP&L is working to install up to 180 kilowatts (kW) of solar energy throughout the SmartGrid Demonstration Area. Grid-tied solar panels will be integrated into leased rooftop spaces of schools, commercial buildings and neighborhood structures.

Over time, the utility expects increasing numbers of customers to use on-site, or distributed, generation to provide power. To date, KCP&L has partnered with a number of locations—including the University of Missouri-Kansas City, MRI Global, Blue Hills Community Center, and the City of Kansas City, Missouri— as solar sites in the SmartGrid Demonstration Area, and expects to add more.

“What KCP&L learns about the future of energy through the SmartGrid Demonstration Project, will not only benefit us, but will also benefit all of our customers as we learn new, more efficient ways to deliver electricity,” said Terry Bassham, KCP&L president and CEO. “This partnership with Exergonix and MRIGlobal to test new energy storage technologies is one component of this exciting project.”

 “This is a wonderful opportunity for Kansas City and a great achievement for all the partners involved in the Green Impact Zone,” said Don Nissanka, president and CEO, Exergonix. “It has been a wonderful experience, as we learned the benefits of tying energy storage to a renewable power equation. The benefits include peak power shaving, demand management, microgrid operations and power quality assistance.”

MRIGlobal is supporting the trial by conducting independent tests and analyses on the environmental and economic performance of the battery, as well as the technical operations, durability, and reliability of the system. The research facility has significant expertise in energy; including solar and wind energy and other sustainable sources, such as algae and biomass. MRIGlobal has managed and operated the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy since its inception in 1977.

“One of the final challenges to delivery of sustainable energy solutions is the issue of energy storage,” said Michael F. Helmstetter, president and CEO of MRIGlobal. “We see tremendous potential in this new technology for storing electrical energy and we are delighted to participate in this historic trial.”

Edited by Rachel Ramsey