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Battery Developer, Utility to Partner on Grid Energy Storage

PowerLines at sunset (Brookhaven National Lab)

(Brookhaven National Lab)

Lithium-ion battery developer A123 Systems in Waltham, Massachusetts and Massachusetts electric power company NSTAR have agreed to pilot test A123 batteries as storage devices in a suburban power grid. The pilot project will study and document the performance and reliability of A123 batteries at a substation in Medway, Massachusetts and is expected to become operational in 2012.

The system marks NSTAR’s first grid energy storage project. Lawrence Gelbien, vice president of engineering at NSTAR says the project will “allow us to gain invaluable hands-on experience with clean, efficient energy storage technology and, ultimately, it will help determine how we can utilize larger-scale energy storage projects on our system.”

In the project, A123 Systems will connect a two-megawatt Grid Battery System (GBS) device to the power grid at NSTAR’s substation in Medway, and be responsible for its operation. The GBS is expected to provide area regulation services, which address momentary differences between electric power supply and demand.

In addition to getting first-hand experience in grid storage, A123 Systems also expects to earn revenue from the grid battery pilot project. The ISO-New England electric power grid’s Alternative Technology Regulation pilot program allows resources such as GBS devices to earn compensation for area regulation and related services.

A123 Systems develops lithium-ion batteries using electrodes made from nanotechnology-based materials that the company says provides greater power and energy density in a lighter weight and more compact package. The technology is based on initial research carried out at MIT. Yet-Ming Chiang, a co-founder of A123 Systems, is also a professor of materials science and engineering at MIT.

Read more. Report: Electrical Grid Needs Technology, Regulatory Changes

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