Hawaii, California Lead the Way in SEPA’s Utility Energy Storage Rankings

on April 29, 2018

Energy-Storage-NewsBattery storage is a “necessity” for Hawaii to reach its 100% renewable energy by 2045 target, leading to electric cooperative KIUC becoming the top-ranked US utility for watts of energy storage deployed per customer in 2017.

The US Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), has just published a set of four Top 10 lists, ranking utilities in the country by annual megawatts of utility solar deployed as well as a separate table for annual watts per customer. California investor-owned utilities Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison topped the megawatt-rankings for utility-scale solar with Xcel Energy’s Minnesota branch in third. For watts deployed per customer, municipal utility Madison Electric Works in Maine took the top spot.

SEPA repeated the format for energy storage, looking at watts per customer, which KIUC (Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperation) topped. In second place was Tucson Electric Power (TEP) in Arizona, which in May last year claimed it had arrived at the lowest recorded prices to date for energy bought from a solar-plus-storage installation. Arizona is also now among the US states considering a large energy storage procurement target. In third for customer-facing storage deployment was another Hawaii utility, Maui Electric. KIUC managed 415.3 watts of energy storage deployments per customer, with TEP trailing in the distance on just 50 watts per customer and Maui Electric on 36.5 watts per customer.

SEPA repeated the ranking process for total megawatts deployed. As regular readers of the site will know, California’s position as the leading state for energy storage deployment in the US, making it one of the biggest markets in the world at present, is based on several market drivers. Preeminent among those drivers, where applicable to utilities, would be AB2514, California’s state mandate for investor-owned utilities to deploy 1.325GW of energy storage by 2025.

Also in the past year, energy storage systems charged from solar arrays have started to be considered a suitable capacity resource for California utilities, particularly as legacy natural gas generation starts to reach the end of its lifetime in some cases. Going forward, that dynamic of gas versus storage and the greater consideration of energy storage in utilities’ Integrated Resource Plans is expected to continue pushing the utility market forward.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsHawaii, California Lead the Way in SEPA’s Utility Energy Storage Rankings

Batteries Have a Dirty Secret

on April 29, 2018

VoxEnergy storage (batteries and other ways of storing electricity, like pumped water, compressed air, or molten salt) has generally been hailed as a “green” technology, key to enabling more renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But energy storage has a dirty secret. The way it’s typically used in the US today, it enables more fossil-fueled energy and higher carbon emissions. Emissions are higher today than they would have been if no storage had ever been deployed in the US.

This is not intrinsic to the technology, by any means. If deployed strategically, energy storage can do all the things boosters say, making the grid more flexible, unlocking renewable energy, and reducing emissions.

But only if it is deployed strategically, which it generally hasn’t been.

In and of itself, energy storage is neither clean nor dirty — it is neutral, as likely to boost the revenue of fossil fuel plants as it is to help clean energy. If policymakers want to use it as a tool to enable clean energy, they need to be conscious of its characteristics and smarter about its deployment.

Why energy storage increases emissions

There is a growing body of scholarly research around energy storage; the key paper on its emission effects is by the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Eric Hittinger and Carnegie Mellon’s Inês Azevedo, in Environmental Science & Technology.

Modeling energy mixes and energy prices across the country, Hittinger and Azevedo determine that the deployment of energy storage increases emissions almost everywhere in the US today. Yikes.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsBatteries Have a Dirty Secret

Power-to-Gas Energy Storage Study Results Published

on April 27, 2018

Networks-OnlineGas distributer Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has hailed the results of a power-to-gas feasibility study which suggest that hydrogen’s potential as a form of energy storage could be delivered at scale.

The collaborative desktop study, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), was led by Sheffield-based energy and clean fuel company ITM Power, using network planning models and data from the gas distributer for the North of England.

It highlights the opportunity available to the UK to take a lead in cutting edge energy storage technology, and the potential for a new era in green gas solutions for customers.

As renewable electricity increases in the UK, effective storage and transmission of surplus power is set to become increasingly important.

Power-to-gas technology turns this excess power into hydrogen, injected into the natural gas network using it as a renewable energy store for use in heat, electricity generation or transport via hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Using nothing more than clean water and electricity, power is turned into zero-carbon hydrogen through an electrolyser developed by ITM Power.

A blend of natural gas and hydrogen would then help to decarbonise the heat used in UK homes and industry.

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks said: “Power-to-gas technology has the potential to answer some of our key energy storage challenges because of the gas network’s sheer size and flexibility.

“This study has delivered some compelling results and insight into how a whole systems approach and green hydrogen can facilitate decarbonisation across all energy vectors.

NGN has led gas industry research into hydrogen as an energy source and is actively pursuing its use for heating in the UK through the pioneering H21 project, focused on converting the UK gas network to 100% hydrogen.

The BEIS/ITM Power-to-Gas study examined potential deployment of large-scale storage capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) and above within the boundaries of NGN’s distribution network.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsPower-to-Gas Energy Storage Study Results Published

Net Metering and Time-Variant Rates Drive Solar Power and Energy Storage Growth

on April 27, 2018

Power-MagazineNevada law has included net metering provisions for more than 20 years. Net metering is an arrangement that allows energy generated by a customer’s leased or purchased solar system to offset monthly power bills. It also permits excess energy supplied to the grid to earn credits, which are then automatically applied to future billing periods in which more energy is consumed than produced.

Historically, net metering was a one-for-one transaction in Nevada. For every kWh supplied to the grid, a credit was given to the customer for one kWh in the future. The scheme changed in 2015 when the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) created a laddered approach that ratcheted down the value of customer-generated energy over a period of years to about 2¢/kWh, which was much less than the retail rate of about 11¢/kWh. The change effectively stopped all construction on new residential rooftop solar systems.

Through Assembly Bill 405 (AB 405), the Nevada Legislature modified the net metering rate structure effective June 15, 2017. The bill allows Nevadans who choose to net meter to fall under a rate structure codified in the law. The rate structure applies to renewable energy systems of 25 kW or less, which is typical of a rooftop solar system installed on a home or small business. The net metering rate structure is tiered and will decrease over time as the amount of electricity produced by net metering systems reaches 80-MW benchmarks.

The first tier offers a net metering rate that is 95% of the retail rate. As of April 26, 2018, nearly 20 MW of installed capacity had been applied toward the first 80-MW tier. The net metering rate for the second tier is 88% of the retail rate, with tiers three and four crediting 81% and 75%, respectively.

Furthermore, on March 14, 2018, the PUC approved numerous new time-variant rates pursuant to AB 405. The rates are designed to incentivize the use of battery storage at residential and small commercial sites. Under the new structure, utility customers with battery storage are allowed to shift their grid usage to times when energy is less costly. The result is a reduced load on the system during peak times coupled with energy savings for the customer. The development provides a natural incentive for customers to deploy behind-the-meter battery storage.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNet Metering and Time-Variant Rates Drive Solar Power and Energy Storage Growth

Dairy Farmers Set to Trade Solar Electricity on Virtual Microgrid

on April 27, 2018

Energy-MattersDairy farmers in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley could soon generate and trade energy via a virtual microgrid thanks to a feasibility study funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

ARENA is putting $370,000 towards a feasibility study for the $775,000 project, which is being led by Brooklyn-based energy company LO3 Energy.

Because the virtual microgrid will connect local energy producers and users, it offers dairy farmers a better deal on energy prices. They will also be able to reduce power bills by selling their solar energy back to the grid.

The microgrid will be made up of solar PV and solar energy storage. The project aims to include up to 200 dairy farms and more than 100 household consumers. It will also include other locally selected commercial and industrial customers.

Green loans lets farmers trade energy via virtual microgrid

Farmers interested in taking part will also be offered loans from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund. The loans could be repaid through local rates with no upfront cost.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Melbourne Fund is combining with partners including Dairy Australia and Siemens to facilitate the project. The microgrid will also use the AusNet Services distribution network.

The study should be completed by the end of 2018. If feasible, the pilot microgrid will then be rolled out in the Latrobe Valley in 2019.

Advance of peer-to-peer solar energy trading in Australia

Several trials of renewable energy microgrids are taking place around Australia. These allow consumers to sell their excess solar energy for profit and buy low-cost energy from other users when needed.

The system cuts out the middle man, gives users more control over their energy consumption and saves money for everyone involved.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsDairy Farmers Set to Trade Solar Electricity on Virtual Microgrid

A Regional Grid Helps, Not Hurts Distributed Renewable Energy

on April 26, 2018

Greentech-MediaWe have been hearing concerns that moving to a regional transmission operator to connect the Western U.S. somehow harms the prospects for greater development of distributed energy resources, especially localsolarand storage, and could lead to an increase in the use of fossil fuels elsewhere in the region. A careful analysis of the facts shows these concerns are unfounded and that in fact, the opposite is true. A regional grid operator will be beneficial for renewable energy development, including distributed generation, for multiple reasons.

Replacing a highly balkanized and inefficient group of grid operators (see the WECC balancing area map below), many of which rely on outdated and highly polluting power plants, with a fully coordinated regional system operator will make better use of the existing interconnected grid, more efficiently share electricity reserves allowing for the accelerated retirement of unneeded facilities, and give more value to cleaner, renewable power sources.

Renewable energy benefits

A regional grid operator makes managing each renewable energy generator’s variable output easier to coordinate and creates more value that can be shared by utility customers and renewable energy developers. It does this by blending renewable power from across the West, including the output from many smaller customer-owned or community-based systems located on dispersed distribution systems. This widespread diversity of resources can be used to meet energy demand at times when fossil fuel generators that are part of local systems would otherwise have to be switched on to fill in the gap.

Solar energy ramps up and down in a quite predictable manner, but varies by longitude and latitude. The availability of other renewable resources can now be forecast with ever-increasing accuracy. A regional grid operator can use renewable power resources across a much wider geography that experiences different weather patterns and energy loads to better meet both systemwide and local needs. This wider area coordination can reduce not only greenhouse gas emissions but also local air pollutants that harm public health, particularly for the most vulnerable.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsA Regional Grid Helps, Not Hurts Distributed Renewable Energy

KIUC, Hawaiian Electric Among Nation’s Energy Storage Leaders

on April 26, 2018

Hawaii’s electric utility companies, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and Hawaiian Electric Cos., are among the leading utilities in the United States for energy storage, according to a new report.

Both companies are featured on this year’s top 10 list for energy storage, which is compiled annually by Smart Electric Power Alliance.

The 2018 survey ranks utilities based on their addition of solar and energy storage in 2017, both in total megawatts and watts per customers, according to the nonprofit’s website.

KIUC led the nation by adding 415.3 watts per customer of energy storage during the last year. That is over eight times more than second-placed Tucson Electric Power with 50 watts per customer.

Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Co., both subsidiaries of Hawaiian Electric Cos., also made the top 10. Maui Electric came in third with 36.5 watts per customer and HELCO was ranked seventh with 16.4 watts per customer.

In terms of total megawatts, KIUC took home the fifth place with 13.7 megawatts, while Maui Electric and Hawaiian Electric Co. rounded out the top 10 with 2.6MW and 2.2MW, respectively. The utility adding the most energy storage last year was Southern California Edison with 56.2MW, according to the report.

“This year’s Top 10 lists reflect a pivotal moment in the U.S. energy transition, as utilities increasingly focus on solar and storage as distributed resources providing value to customers and the grid,” SEPA CEO and President Julia Hamm said in a statement. “Beyond their impressive numbers, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light embody a strong model for innovation and leadership that utilities across the country will continue to build on as we move toward a clean, smart and resilient energy future.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsKIUC, Hawaiian Electric Among Nation’s Energy Storage Leaders

NEC to Supply 20-MW Energy Storage System to Ørsted

on April 26, 2018

WindpowerNEC Energy Solutions (NEC ES), a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, is supplying Ørsted UK with a 20-MW GSS Grid Storage Solution.

“The future energy system will be completely transformed from what it is today, with a smarter, more flexible grid, balancing supply and demand with new technology and cleaner energy generation,” said Matthew Wright, Managing Director of Ørsted UK. “We want to continue to be at the forefront of this exciting shift towards a decarbonized energy system. Acquiring the Carnegie Road plant is an important step forward as it’s our first commercial-scale battery storage project. We’re investing billions of pounds in the UK’s energy infrastructure and this is another significant investment that puts the UK at the heart of the global energy transition.”

Once completed and operational by the end of 2018, the system will be used to provide services to the UK’s National Grid to help manage grid stability during changes between peak and low power demand.

“We could not be more thrilled to be working again with NEC Energy Solutions who have a strong presence in Massachusetts and are recognized as a global leader in battery storage technology and products,” said Thomas Brostrøm, President of Ørsted North America. “NEC Energy Solutions will serve as a partner on our Bay State Wind project in Massachusetts and will now work with us in the UK, which is an exciting step as we develop our energy storage solutions in the U.S.”

The Carnegie Road battery storage project was originally developed by Shaw Energi, which will support Ørsted in the execution of the project. The grid connection agreement and permits are already in place and construction is expected to start in May, with the project operational by the end of the year.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNEC to Supply 20-MW Energy Storage System to Ørsted

FERC Order 845 Opens Door a Little Wider for Energy Storage

on April 25, 2018

Utility-DiveTucked away in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s April 19 revision of its large generator interconnection agreement are easily overlooked provisions that could benefit energy storage providers.

Order 845 revises the commission’s large generator interconnection agreement in several ways. It’s the conclusion of a process that began with a notice of proposed rulemaking in 2016 that was prompted by a complaint filed by the American Wind Energy Association.

For energy storage, the most obvious change in Order 845 is that it revises the definition of generating facility to explicitly include electricity storage. But the scope of 845 is much wider than energy storage. It revises interconnection rules and protocols for any generator larger than 20 MW.

One of the main changes FERC is putting in place with Order 845 is to allow interconnection customers to request a level of interconnection service that is lower than the capacity of their generating facility.

That is an issue that has become increasingly prevalent with the rise of renewable resources such as wind and solar power for which electrical output seldom equals nameplate capacity.

Improving the interconnection process

FERC says that changes such as more closely aligning output and nameplate capacity will help improve the interconnection process. Many interconnection customers experience delays and some interconnection queues have significant backlogs, according to FERC. As a result, there is also a recurring problem of late interconnection request withdrawals that can lead to interconnection restudies that can increase costs and timelines for other participants in the interconnection queue, FERC says.

Among the other changes brought about by Order 845 is that it requires transmission providers to allow for provisional interconnection agreements for limited operation of a generating facility prior to completion of the full interconnection process. The order also requires transmission providers to create a process for interconnection customers to use surplus interconnection service at existing points of interconnection.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFERC Order 845 Opens Door a Little Wider for Energy Storage

New York Boosts Efficiency Target, Makes Way for More Solar and Energy Storage

on April 25, 2018

Greentech-MediaGovernor Andrew Cuomo announced new energy efficiency standards for New York on Friday, calling for investor-owned utilities to achieve annual efficiency savings equal to 3 percent of sales by 2025.

The new target would accelerate energy efficiency by more than 40 percent over current forecasts and reduce energy consumption by 185 trillion Btu. The state also committed $36.5 million to train more than 19,500 New Yorkers for clean energy jobs.

“Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way for New Yorkers to lower utility bills, curb harmful emissions and battle climate change,” said Governor Cuomo, in a statement.

The energy efficiency plan should help the state achieve nearly one-third of its climate goal to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

New York’s Public Service Commission also approved a series of measures last week as part of the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative. Now in its fourth year, REV is a sweeping overhaul of utility and energy regulations meant to enable more distributed energy on the grid.

One of the changes will allow distributed energy storage projects of up to 5 megawatts to connect to the grid, which the commission says will expand the integration of larger energy storage technologies.

“New York is sending strong signals to the storage industry to come to invest in New York, and those signals are coming in [the form of many] different changes, and this is one of them,” said Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York.

Regulators also improved upon the application and contract process for Standardized Interconnection Requirements, which should help developers connect distributed generation projects to the distribution system more efficiently.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNew York Boosts Efficiency Target, Makes Way for More Solar and Energy Storage