With this approval, Duke Energy will construct a microgrid, which will include 2MW solar facility and 4MW lithium-based battery storage facility, in Madison County, North Carolina

Duke Energy

A leader in battery storage technology, Duke Energy is combining battery storage with solar power at microgrid projects throughout the Carolinas.

Duke Energy has received approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to build a new microgrid project in Madison County.

With the approval, Duke Energy intends to build a solar and battery-powered microgrid system in the town of Hot Springs, which will help improve electric reliability, offer services for electric system, while serving as a backup power supply in the town of over 500 residents.

The Hot Springs microgrid will comprise a 2MW solar facility and a 4MW lithium-based battery storage facility. According to the electric utility company, the microgrid will not only provide a cost-effective and reliable grid solution, but also offer energy and additional bulk system benefits for customers.

The microgrid system will support the local electric grid with services such as frequency and voltage regulation and ramping support and capacity during system peaks.

Duke Energy microgrid and energy storage development managing director Zak Kuznar said: “Duke Energy’s research work on microgrids has led to a large-scale effort that will better serve, not only these customers in a remote area, but also help us gain experience from this pilot project to better serve all customers with additional distributed energy and energy storage technologies.

“Projects like this will lead to a smarter energy future for the Carolinas.”

Another component of the plan is in the city of Asheville, where the company will install a 9MW lithium-ion battery system at one of its substation sites in the Rock Hill community, near Sweeten Creek Road.

The battery will be used primarily to support the electric system in operating more efficiently and reliably for customers.

The two projects are estimated to cost nearly $30m and are expected to be operational early next year.

In North Carolina, the company has a smaller microgrid project operating. In Haywood County, it has a 95kWh zinc-air battery and 10kW solar installation which serves a communications tower on Mount Sterling in the Smoky Mountains National Park that has been operating since 2017. It is also working on proposed projects in South Carolina.

The utility plans to close down a half-century-old, coal-fired plant in Arden by 2020 and the plant will be replaced by a new 560MW combined-cycle natural gas plant.