California microgrid project further demonstrates flow battery value in utility-scale storage

March 03, 2022 | Case Study

As utilities move to decarbonize their grid, reliability and resilience have become front-of-mind issues. California's utility companies must contend with increasing nondispatchable renewable power capacity, surging seasonal demand, and increasing occurrences of extreme weather events. To address these challenges, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) approved an order to increase the deployment of microgrids for resilience in 2020. Prior to the order, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) was actively building grid resilience by piloting community microgrids. Its projects demonstrated how microgrids could provide support to its customers in times of extreme weather and incorporate a higher concentration of renewable power under normal operations. These microgrids are connected to the larger grid, but can switch to independent operation when needed. Extreme weather events that can cause wildfires force utilities to implement a public safety power shutoff (PSPS) to protect areas with a high risk of ignition. Under normal operations, energy storage plays a critical role in integrating renewables to the region it serves. When the utility anticipates a PSPS event, the energy storage system charges so that it can provide support during an outage.

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