We’re committed to identifying the best energy solutions for our customers that improve the efficient use of energy, reduce our environmental footprint, enhance customer reliability and strengthen grid resilience. We will achieve this through collaborative research development and deployment of technologies that show promise or are capable of being revolutionary. We’ll collaborate with federal, state and local regulators to secure public support. Only then can we arrive at well-researched and tested solutions that balance environmental attributes, cost and reliability considerations.
In 2020, we formed a Grid Solutions team to accelerate the energy transformation and advance a clean energy economy. The team is focused on identifying and implementing the best infrastructure solutions for our customers across the regulated generation, transmission and distribution businesses with an emphasis on seamless integration of the functions. Grid Solutions is responsible for the commercial structuring, acquisition and development of new grid resources, including regulated renewables, dispatchable generation such as natural gas, competitive transmission ventures, distributed generation, energy storage and other emerging on-grid technologies. In addition, they ensure compliance with regulatory and policy requirements while remaining engaged with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO).
We support the continuing development of cleaner energy options through technology advancement. Such advancements will continue to drive favorable economics of existing clean technologies and potentially provide new options in the future. Technologies of interest include:
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Storage
- Nuclear Energy
- Carbon Capture with Utilization or Storage
- Hydrogen and Other Chemical Energy
- Other technologies as they are identified
As we introduce more renewable generation into our energy mix, the need to invest in energy storage grows. Energy storage can help smooth the flow of power as generation from intermittent resources such as wind and solar varies over time. Storage technology supports local reliability and demand response for our customers, and it is integrated into our distribution and resource planning processes.
We have several energy storage projects throughout our service territory, including three recent projects in AEP Ohio. This includes a 137.4 kW solar array and a 560 kW/1,200 kWh battery energy storage system for the Columbus Zoo. This microgrid system serves the saltwater life support system providing a constant energy supply to one of the most critical facilities of the zoo. In addition, AEP Ohio has two new microgrids incorporating solar arrays and battery storage at a wastewater treatment facility and a water booster station. Expected to be operational in 2021, both of these projects provide the needed resiliency to endure long-term outages with minimal operational adjustments.
In October 2020, AEP OnSite Partners announced an energy storage plant project that will serve the City of Martinsville in Virginia. The project is the first to leverage technology firm Wärtsilä’s new GridSolv Quantum energy storage system. The installation will enable the city to offset peak load periods and more effectively manage their overall energy usage and costs. It also will reduce their reliance on traditional peak energy resources. The energy storage system is scheduled to be operational in the second half of 2021.
We are also investigating and actively pursuing the application of Bulk Energy Storage Systems as transmission assets in situations where they can help to cost-effectively maintain or improve the reliability of the transmission system, compared to traditional options of building new transmission lines or stations.
We collaborate with technology experts, developers, start-ups and consortiums to co-develop technologies that are not currently available today. We are developing initiatives and forming partnerships in the U.S. and around the world to scout new innovation technologies, validate them fast, demonstrate their benefits to customers and policymakers, secure timely regulatory support or contractual approvals for innovation and deployment, and deploy them at scale.
We are a founding member of the Low-Carbon Resource Initiative (LCRI), an industry and global partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute, the Gas Technology Institute and technology developers. The five-year initiative, which kicked off in September 2020, will provide a framework, coupled with technology advancements, to leverage existing assets and provide the necessary tools to transition to a low-carbon future. Learn more in the Technology section of AEP’s Climate Impact Analysis Report.
We invest in technology funds and start-up companies to enable technology development, gain intelligence about developing business models, and integrate the latest technologies into our business. Examples of our investments include ChargePoint, a comprehensive EV charging network with solutions for every type of business, and Mainspring Energy, who’s dispatchable, linear generator provides the flexibility to generate energy using the cleanest fuels available today and in the future. We are introducing these innovations to our customers to enable them to meet their energy objectives.
We also participate in global technology information hubs. We are the only North American member of the Free Electrons Accelerator, a nine-member global energy accelerator whose mission is to create the future of energy. Free Electrons gives AEP direct access to the world's most innovative energy technology entrepreneurs and their solutions. This program allows us to monitor and test global advancements in energy technologies that can help AEP and our customers meet sustainability and electrification goals.
AEP CEO, Nick Akins, serves as Chairman of the Board of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP). GSEP is a CEO-led alliance of the world’s largest electricity companies committed to leading the transformation of the global electricity industry and the energy transition through accelerated clean energy electrification. GSEP provides a forum for CEOs to share their challenges and solutions with each other and with external stakeholders. Through research studies, work programs and their first ever public annual CEO meeting held in May 2021, electric utility members are working to identify sustainable solutions to electrify businesses and communities around the world.
By collaborating with stakeholders, it will be possible for low-carbon, affordable, resilient and reliable electricity to be the lifeline of a modern decarbonized global community and the backbone of digital and connected cities of the future.