With the rise of renewable energy sources, utility companies have an ever-increasing need for energy storage to balance supply and demand. Amid this tight spot, one of the intricacies of the regulated and non-regulated utility markets boils down to integrating renewable generation. Solar and wind generation have an associated predictability factor which brings challenges to utilities that are required to bridge the demand arbitrage. To help utilities solve this issue, Florida-based Stellar Energy provides a range of solutions that enable plant operators to either turn down or turn up power generation to help regulate their generation assets’ capacity. The firm’s solutions add operational flexibility, allowing utilities to optimize their gas fired generation capacity to more efficiently integrate with their renewable generation.

Though gas turbines are efficient power-generation systems, they are susceptible to fluctuations in ambient conditions whereby elevated temperature degrades output. Peter Gibson, Chairman and CEO at Stellar Energy points out that clients are faced with the challenge of predicting and reacting to weather conditions which can dramatically impact the generation performance of their conventional and renewable assets. The industry, in Gibson’s opinion, is committed to an age of sustainable energy. “As such, the energy industry needs to balance and integrate efficient conventional power generation with the generation dynamics of renewable assets,” Gibson explains.

Stellar Energy integrates turbine inlet air chilling (TIAC)—a reliable method of enhancing power plant performance during periods of high ambient temperature and relative humidity—with thermal energy storage (TES) to help utilities meet peak demand requirements without the need for additional conventional generation. Stellar Energy uses TES solutions as a thermal battery, enabling plants to build and store energy in a thermal capacity to offset the power required to run the TIAC system during off-peak hours. “We provide our clients with the ability to quickly react to different temperatures with efficient low-cost power, thereby enhancing the financial performance of their renewable assets,” explains Gibson.

Stellar Energy’s solution holds well on two fronts—power generation and storage. As turbines are susceptible to variant ambient conditions, Stellar Energy’s solution removes this variability to allow the turbine to perform under the best possible conditions.

We provide our clients with the ability to quickly react to varying ambient conditions with efficient low-cost power, thereby enhancing the performance of their renewable assets

The solution then utilizes the thermal energy stored during low-cost, low-demand off-peak hours to optimize generation during high-revenue, high-demand peak hours. At the same time, TIAC makes the gas fired assets more resilient to extreme weather. “Our clients can supplement their existing gas power generation with additional capacity during the demanding peak hours with a fast response time.”

Stellar Energy recently designed and implemented a TIAC/TES solution for Duke Energy’s Hines Energy Complex in Central Florida. The solution provides an additional 220 megawatts over their original capacity. “With our solution, they were able to accurately determine the number of megawatts they generate on a ‘next day’ basis and quickly respond to any shortfall in their renewable asset generation. We can effectively extend or increase the generation capacity of a utility’s most efficient asset,” elaborates Gibson.

Stellar Energy’s experienced engineering team works side-by-side with clients and partners to create custom solutions for their individual needs. “We are truly a full solution company, rather than providing just a part of the solution for storage demands,” highlights Gibson. As early innovators of TIAC and modular energy plants, the firm employs the latest engineering methods, such as computer-aided design and 3D modeling, to enhance design productivity and ensure accuracy and consistency. In the days to come, Stellar Energy will continue to keep pace with technology, enhancing the business process capabilities by adding advanced functionalities to their solution portfolio.