Cypress Creek Renewables has commissioned 12 solar power systems coupled with 12 megawatt-hours (MWh) of batteries, as a project that will serve the 100,000 customers of the Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation in south-east North Carolina.
The press image provided at the top of this article suggests two Lockheed GridStar units in the particular installation, and if the installations are similarly designed, that would mean 1 MWh total energy storage per installation. That suggests the units deployed might be the 250 kW/500 kWh GridStar variants (if they do in fact have that exact sizing).
A tweet showed a second project with two GridStar units:
Pictures of Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles installed on a residential unit were recently shared online, showcasing the near-indistinguishable look of the photovoltaic roof system from traditional roofing material.
The photos of the solar roof shingles were shared by @Toblerhaus on Twitter, who stated that the tiles were “every bit as beautiful” as she had hoped. The Tesla fan further remarked that her home’s photovoltaic installation, which is rated at 9.9 kW, has made her family feel like they’re “living in the future.” Based on the images of the installation, @Toblerhaus appears to have opted for the tiles’ “textured” variant.
The first installations of Tesla’s Solar Roofs began last year, with CEO Elon Musk stating during the Q2 2017 earnings call that the tiles have already been installed on his and CTO JB Straubel’s houses. As we noted in a previous report, having the company’s employees as Tesla’s first Solar Roof customers is a clever strategy for the company, since doing so would allow the maintenance of a tight feedback loop with end users.
The Solar Roof tiles were among the key points of Tesla’s Q2 2017 update letter. In the investor communication, Tesla noted that the Solar Roof tiles, together with battery storage devices such as the Powerwall 2, are a step towards the company’s goal of helping customers achieve “sustainable energy independence.”
Tesla designed the Solar Roof tiles to be an option for customers who would like to have solar panels on their homes without committing to the questionable aesthetics of conventional photovoltaic systems. In Tesla’s Q2 2017 update letter, the Elon Musk-led company stated that the Solar Roofs would even prove to be affordable for customers in the long run, considering that the system will result in energy savings.
Energy storage’s unique ability to act as both generation and load makes it a round peg in the square peg board of utility regulation.
That mismatch is destined to come into sharper relief as a rulemaking on energy storage in Texas moves forward, highlighting some of the contentious issues the technology raises in competitive power markets.
At the wholesale level, there is no problem installing an energy storage project in Texas. The state is already home to a number of storage projects, including the 2 MW Elbow Creek project deployed by NRG Energy and Toshiba in Howard County and the nearly 20 MW Texas Waves project near Roscoe that E.On brought online earlier this year.
“The separation of competitive and regulated entities has been very strict and thorough in Texas. It is a framework that everyone jealously guards.”
Attorney, Jewell & Associates
But deploying storage on the distribution grid can be challenging, as AEP Texas and Oncor Electric have discovered, and that can limit energy storage’s potential revenue streams. “There can be some wholesale market rules that make it harder to capture the full value,” Johannes Pfeifenberger, a principal at The Brattle Group, told Utility Dive.
The issue goes to the heart of the structure of Texas’ power market and what has enabled it to work so well, Michael Jewell, an attorney with Jewell & Associates, told Utility Dive. “The separation of competitive and regulated entities has been very strict and thorough in Texas. It is a framework that everyone jealously guards.”
The French utility company said on Tuesday that the planned investment would be used to develop an estimated 10 gigawatts of additional energy storage projects, or roughly twice the total amount of capacity it currently operates.
The utility said it would target energy storage projects in the European market, especially in France, but that it would also pursue opportunities in Africa, including battery storage and storage plus solar projects in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
Over the next two years, EDF said it would use roughly one third of its investment in energy storage to acquiring projects and start-up companies focused on energy storage projects and grid applications. A portion of the investment – about $87 million – will also be used to support research and development activities in the energy storage space.
EDF owns a large fleet of nuclear reactors in France, which derives about 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy. France has 58 nuclear reactors operated by EDF, with a total capacity of 63.1 gigawatts.
Cypress Creek Renewables, which developed 1GW of PV projects in an 18-month stretch up to the beginning of this year, has used Lockheed Martin’s lithium-ion battery storage solutions in a dozen just-completed solar-plus-storage projects.
Executing PV projects primarily in North Carolina and announcing US$1.5 billion of investment for 2GW of solar in that state last November, Cypress Creek used the GridStar Lithium energy storage solution made by the US aerospace and defence giant for 12 projects in communities served by Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation.
The electric cooperative has 94,390 meters in place and around 160 employees, with only around 13 consumers per mile of line, according to its figures. Adding solar-plus-storage at communities in Brunswick, Columbus, Robeson and Bladen Counties, North Carolina, will reduce peak electricity costs and create dispatchable solar resources.
Totalling 12MWh, the projects were first reported by Energy-Storage.News last summer as work began, when original developer United Renewable Energy (URE) signed PPAs with the co-op. Cypress Creek since acquired them from URE.
“This collaboration will provide significant value to our members for years to come,” CEO and general manager of Brunswick EMC corporation Don Hughes said.
On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., signed into law a bill concerning the rights of electric utility customers to install energy storage systems.
Commended by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), the legislation, S.B.9, allows Colorado residents to install and use energy storage on their property without unnecessary restrictions or discriminatory rates – in turn, helping the state’s solar market and jobs grow, the groups say.
Moreover, the legislation makes Colorado one of the first states to declare energy storage a “right” for consumers, according to the groups.
The bill was introduced by Sens. Stephen Fenberg and Kevin Priola and Reps. Faith Winter and Polly Lawrence. A summary from the Colorado General Assembly states as follows:
“The bill declares that consumers of electricity have a right to install, interconnect and use energy storage systems on their property, and that this will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, save money and reduce the need for additional electric generation facilities. The bill directs the Colorado public utilities commission to adopt rules governing the installation, interconnection and use of customer-sited energy storage systems.”
“This new law cements Colorado’s status as one of our nation’s renewable energy leaders,” says Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “Pairing energy storage with solar will allow consumers to have the cleanest, most reliable and most affordable electricity. The solar industry thanks Governor Hickenlooper and the legislature for continuing to support the state’s solar market by taking this important step on storage.”
Lockheed Martin’s GridStar™ technology ensures that this power is rapidly dispatchable — a key benefit that allows Brunswick EMC to avoid peaking costs and pass the savings to its member-owners in Brunswick and Columbus Counties, as well as small areas of Robeson and Bladen Counties.
“These projects provide solar energy to our members and compound the value by delivering it exactly when we need it,” said Don Hughes, CEO/general manager of Brunswick EMC.
These 12 solar-plus-storage projects represent the first set of battery storage projects developed, constructed, financed and commissioned by Cypress Creek. Cypress Creek acquired the projects from United Renewable Energy, the initial developer of the projects.
“We are approaching a point where many newly originated solar projects will become solar-plus-storage by default,” said Brian Knowles, director of energy storage, Cypress Creek Renewables.
Roger Flanagan, director for Lockheed Martin Energy, added, “We are pleased to support Cypress Creek Renewables’ innovative solar-plus-storage projects. Energy storage is key to unlocking the true potential of renewable energy generation.”
Lockheed Martin’s GridStar™ Lithium energy storage systems are compact, easy to install, and scalable for 100 kW to multi-MW projects. GridStar™ system architecture consists of modular, purpose-built energy storage units that contain batteries, local controls software and all required balance-of-system components. The systems are certified to UL 9540 standards.
Energy markets are evolving incredibly fast. But while dynamism in the global energy sector is just cause for much optimism, it can also be tricky. Prices are falling, but how far? And how fast? Rules are changing, but how quickly? And how exactly?
Back the wrong horse too early, and you may find yourself out-priced by your competitors, who have a better solution. Wait too long and hold off on decisions and you may miss out on interesting market opportunities while others gain valuable experience.
And if that wasn’t difficult enough, a wide range of ownership and operation models is available on the market. The hottest game in town: Energy-Storage-as-Service – or ESaaS for short. In fact, the list of purveyors of ESaaS has grown so long, that the concept warrants a closer look.
ESaaS isn’t wholly new: The idea that those in need of the many benefits that intelligent battery energy storage can provide would simply contract them rather than invest themselves was prominent already when, or rather because, energy storage was still relatively expensive. As prices continue to drop and storage starts to become an asset class of its own, it’s only natural that it attracts innovative infrastructure investors seeking stable returns and clean energy investments alike.
While this “financing case” or side for/of ESaaS is justified and sure to grow, there’s also the “purely temporary” dimension of Energy-Storage-as-Service that’s received much less attention.
So what exactly is “temporary storage” – and how is it different from the financing-based ESaaS models grabbing the headlines right now?
This week, Nissan and affiliate 4R Energy Corporation are launching a new initiative to give used Nissan LEAF batteries a second life as the energy storage banks for off-grid lights in a new effort called “The Light Reborn.”
The concept is very simple — bundle a solar panel, LED light, and battery into a self-supporting product that allows the solar panel’s daytime output to be stored in a battery that will then provide enough power to run the LED streetlight at night. BYD has offered products like this for years, but what makes Nissan’s push unique is that it makes use of used LEAF batteries.
The new product is a logical step for Nissan as the company looks for ways to utilize the most valuable assets in its electric vehicles — the batteries — after they have lived past their functional life in those vehicles (or been rendered scrap as a result of an accident).
The light product by itself is interesting and worth noting, but the really exciting news in this release is buried in the details. Nissan is making a bullish push into the energy storage business with a new 3-pronged strategy that hints at a new model for the company that echoes the strategies of other new energy companies BYD and Tesla. Building outward from the core of the batteries that power its electric vehicles, Nissan slid in 3 major bullet point graphics that speak volumes.
When combined with onsite solar production, the addition of large-scale batteries as residential energy storage units improves the durability and functionality of the home energy system. This message especially resonates with Nissan’s home audience in Japan due to its frequent and recently severe earthquakes, which have driven a high cultural awareness of the need for robust backup plans in the event of a natural disaster and inevitable power outages. There are wide-ranging knock-on effects from such outages. As one example, the power outage that came along with the Thomas Fire in my hometown of Ventura is believed to have contributed to the loss of water pressure in critical fire pumps, resulting in the loss of additional homes.
The problem with centralized power grids is that they can be crippled at just one point of failure, leaving consumers vulnerable to outages. According to Mark Feasel of Schneider Electric, the cost of such outages for the U.S economy overall is $150 billion a year. An irritating inconvenience for domestic consumers, prolonged outages are expensive, damaging and potentially fatal to businesses of all scales. Insurance may not necessarily cover business that are forced to close due to power outages, just as it may not reimburse damage to property or stock. Given that the question of outages is likely to be when rather than if, it is no surprise that many businesses are looking to augment their power needs with backup systems. While for some that may simply be something like a backup generator, many more are utilising microgrids.
Put simply, a microgrid contains localised energy generation, distribution and in some cases, storage. Microgrids are generally used in discrete locations to provide all of the power needs of that site, but they also work in tandem with a centralized grid, augmenting or providing backup power to that supply.
The main benefits of microgrids are threefold; they are local, independent and intelligent. When energy is produced locally, the grid itself becomes more efficient. Delivering electricity form centralized grids leads to losses of between 8 and 15 percent. This locality also means that the site isn’t susceptible to power outages that affect the central grid. In such an event, the microgrid can take control of the delivery of power before there is any loss, eliminating blackouts and brownouts. The way it does this is by use of intelligent switching. A microgrid can monitor all aspects of the power system, and thereby intelligently switch between the local grid and the wider grid, depending on various factors. It can, for example, monitor price fluctuations and only draw from the main grid when prices are low, switching to local supply when they rise.