This group is the default community for every Energy Central registered member. We discuss and share a variety of topics related to the global power industry. 

211,900 Members


5 Ways Ultracapacitors Operate In Utility Grids And Microgrids

Globally, grid modernization is driven by a number of factors including increased renewable energy generation and a decrease in generation from traditional fuels. Further energy generation is becoming more decentralized. The net result of these factors is less grid stability.

Ultracapacitors, also called supercapacitors, are rapid-response, high power energy storage devices that provide grid operators with a cost-effective strategy for addressing voltage, frequency, and power quality issues. Here are five ways that ultracapacitors can operate in the modern grid.


Generator bridging, ramping and regulation 

Power generators are typically on standby so that they can ramp up or down depending on the increases and decreases in demand. Ultracapacitor energy storage systems can help reduce the need for idling, fuel-burning generators by bridging the time gap between demand and bringing an alternative generation resource online as well as by providing active power support until the generation resource is brought to full power.


Primary frequency response 

The modern grid needs new ways to achieve stability, as traditional generation sources, such as fossil fuel and nuclear plants, phase out. Renewables, including wind and solar, introduce unpredictable changes in power supply. Ultracapacitor energy storage systems address the fluctuations of renewable energy by rapidly injecting and absorbing power, helping to stabilize changes in frequency.


Voltage sag mitigation

Voltage sags, or a short-term dips in voltage, are one of the most expensive of all power quality issues. Ultracapacitors contribute to power quality by injecting power to support loads and mitigate the risk of downtime at critical facilities. When compared to batteries and flywheels, ultracapacitors have a smaller footprint and lower cost of ownership, with less maintenance required.


Mission critical microgrids and facilities

Microgrids exist on military bases, university campuses, commercial and industrial sites and areas isolated from the main power grid. Since microgrids are self-reliant, it is critical to maintain power quality and stability. Maxwell ultracapacitor systems can provide short-duration services such as voltage and frequency support, solar and wind firming, and generator bridging, and likewise be incorporated into hybrid ultracapacitor-battery systems to reduce the charge-discharge rate of batteries, helping to extend battery lifetime.


Solar and wind power smoothing 

When wind turbines have no wind to catch and solar panels have no sun to absorb, power availability dramatically decreases. Grid operators can use the high power and response speed of ultracapacitors to react to millisecond and second changes in power availability and “smooth” fluctuations caused by intermittent renewable energy sources.


This post was originally published by Maxwell Technologies and was republished with permission.




Dr. Kim McGrath's picture

Thank Dr. Kim for the Post!

Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.

No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »