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UMass Energy Storage

In December 2017. UMass Amherst was awarded a $1.1 million state grant from the Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage (ACES) program to work with Tesla Energy to construct a large battery at the Central Heating Plant on campus.  UMass Amherst will operate the 1 MW/4 MWh lithium ion battery system to demonstrate the value of peak demand management, optimize the integration of renewable distributed generation, and educate Massachusetts’ next generation of clean energy experts.


UMass Clean Energy Extension, in collaboration with the UMass Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the College of Information and Computer Sciences, has developed a comprehensive research initiative to maximize learnings from the battery system operations.  CEE will pursue three research topics during the ACES demonstration period: data analytics and simulation to improve operational algorithms for coincident peak demand management and to optimize the value of storage in microgrids; planning for an energy storage and clean energy technology test bed facility at the UMass Amherst campus; and feasibility analysis of large-scale, long-duration thermal storage development to serve the campus’ Central Heating Plant.

Electricity Supply and Demand Management

UMass Amherst’s ACES project will reduce campus peak electricity demands where UMass incurs wholesale generation capacity and transmission capacity costs. By charging the battery system during off-peak periods and discharging to coincide with each month’s coincident peak demand, UMass Amherst will be helping replace the use of inefficient generators at peak times, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce peak prices, and reduce costs in the capacity market.

The campus provides one of the Commonwealth’s best test cases for how distributed renewable generation can be integrated at scale to maximize value for the grid. With 15 MW of cogeneration and just under 5 MW of operational solar photovoltaic capacity, UMass Amherst operates one of Massachusetts’ most sophisticated microgrids in the state. UMass Amherst plans to manage battery cycling to alleviate balancing constraints between intermittent solar capacity and baseload cogeneration systems.


UMass Amherst’s onsite generation mix also offers an opportunity to demonstrate the resiliency benefits of battery storage as a value-added service. The battery system will be interconnected to the campus’ distribution loop that is designed to island in the case of an Eversource outage. This feeder serves the Mullins Center, which is designated as a regional emergency shelter in the case of a natural disaster for Hampshire County’s population of roughly 160,000 residents.

Educational Opportunities

Tesla has agreed to directly contribute $80,000 over the 15-year expected life of the battery storage system to provide a range of educational opportunities for UMass staff and students, including paid internships, career mentorships, lectures, and curriculum development related to solar and energy storage.