Tag Archives: Energy Storage

Boosting battery storage can lower utility bills — study

By Daniel Cusick, Environment & Energy Publishing

Adding energy storage to an already robust solar market in California’s multifamily housing sector could lead to significant utility bill savings for building owners and tenants, new findings from the Clean Energy Group and partner organizations show.

In a new 50-page analysis released last week, CEG, along with the California Housing Partnership Corp. and Center for Sustainable Energy, found that lower-income apartments provide a ripe opportunity for developers to improve the economics of solar by adding battery storage to such apartment buildings. “It essentially creates a new pool of savings, so if you were only doing efficiency and only doing solar, you’d get some savings. But if you add storage, you get significantly more,” said Lewis Milford, CEG’s president and a co-author of the report, “Closing the California Clean Energy Divide.”

The authors say the findings are especially relevant in light of California’s recent passage into law of the Multifamily Affordable Housing Solar Roofs Program, a $1 billion investment program to deploy solar technologies in affordable multifamily rental housing that is expected to extend the benefits of solar power to hundreds of thousands of lower-income Californians.

But solar access by itself isn’t enough, the report says. In fact, shifting policies around rooftop solar in some states, including California, could place owners and tenants of low-income housing at greater risk because the benefits of solar are highly dependent on strong net-metering programs. A number of states have reformed net metering in ways that sharply curtail the benefits of solar, resulting in higher, not lower, electricity bills.

Battery storage effectively reduces that risk, the authors say, by eliminating most of the demand-related charges that utilities pass along to owners of distributed energy systems like rooftop solar.

“Because batteries empower owners of solar PV systems to take control of the energy they produce and when they consume it, storage can deliver deeper cost reductions that can be shared among affordable housing owners, developers, and tenants,” the report states. And unlike stand-alone solar projects, which do little to offset demand-related charges, a properly sized solar system with storage can eliminate nearly all electricity expenses, resulting in an annual electric utility bill of less than a few hundred dollars in some cases.

Read full article from E&E

Related Article: Energy Storage Could Break Low Income Rooftop Solar Bottleneck (CleanTechnica)

California Has Too Much Solar Power — And That’s a Good Thing

By Travis Hoium, The Motley Fool

No business wants to create a solution in search of a problem, particularly in the slow-changing energy industry. Instead, businesses want to find solutions for problems that exist and create ways to make money off their solutions.

Enter the exigent problem California is facing: it has too much solar energy. First, who thought that would be a problem in the country’s largest state? Second, why isn’t there a solution if utilities and regulators knew this problem was coming? The short answer is that energy innovators weren’t going to create and install solutions for solar energy’s variability until they knew the utilities and regulators had recognized the problem.

California has made a big push into renewable energy in an effort to meet a 50% renewable energy goal by 2030. It’s built wind and solar plants rapidly over the past decade, which combines with hydropower to provide clean energy to the state. The problem is that solar energy, in particular, isn’t created evenly throughout the day or year and that’s a challenge for the grid.

In March, before peak air conditioner season in the state, there was so much solar energy on the grid that the California Independent System Operator had to tell some solar farms to shut down because there was too much energy for the grid to handle. And that could lead to a blackout.

Read full article from The Motley Fool

Aquion installs storage for microgrid at California winery and farm

By Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

Aquion Energy and Ideal Power have teamed up to provide storage capability to a microgrid that enables a California winery and farm to be energy self-sufficient.

Aquion supplied its aqueous hybrid ion batteries for the project, connecting them with Ideal Power’s grid resilient 30-kW multi-port power conversion system as part of a microgrid at Stone Edge Farm, a 16-acre organic winery and farm in Sonoma County. The energy storage installation provides the farm and winery the capability for solar self-consumption, peak shaving and load shifting services.

The solar + storage installation is designed to provide energy for a number of buildings on the site, including the primary residence, offices and workshops. The grid-tied microgrid, developed by Wooster Engineering Specialties, is capable of islanding and operating autonomously and of generating enough energy that Stone Edge Farm is able to sell some of the energy back to Pacific Gas and Electric.  During daylight hours, solar PV provides energy for the buildings and charges the batteries. During nighttime hours and periods of cloud cover, the batteries provide energy for building loads.

Read full article from Utility Dive

Related: Aquion Energy’s AHI batteries and Ideal Power’s power conversion system bring energy independence and resiliency to Sonoma Winery (Press Release) – April 26, 2016

How California Blackouts Will Make Solar and Batteries A National Story

By Bill Roth, Triple Pundit

California again faces potential blackouts. This time it is tied to a natural gas storage facility called Aliso Canyon owned by Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas. The site’s ability to deliver energy was crippled by a natural gas leak described as an ecological disaster comparable to the BP oil rig explosion. State officials worry that this key facility will not be able to deliver sufficient supplies to California’s natural gas generating plants during summer peak electricity demands.

Here’s how solar and distributed generation could become national news this summer. It is 7 p.m., and Los Angeles is blacked out. It’s the third day of a blistering heat wave made more intense by global warming. People cut back on their air conditioning in the first two days in response to public service announcements to “save the grid.” But on that third evening, it was still over a 100 degrees from the valley to the beaches. Everyone decided they had to get cooler. Collectively they only moved their thermostats back down just a couple of degrees. But that was enough. The increased draw of electricity overwhelmed the grid. It automatically shut down because it just could not produce and deliver any more electricity.

But across LA, there are customers with power. They have lights. Even more importantly, they have air conditioning. Customers flock to these businesses. Neighbors walk over to ask their solar-powered neighbor about how they still have electricity.

The press see a media opportunity. Camera crews show up in front of the homes and businesses that have electricity because of solar systems connected to batteries. They ask questions about cost and find that these customers are actually saving money too. Then the reporters turn to the camera and ask, “Could this be the next iPhone-like technology breakthrough that California creates for all of us?”

Read full article from Triple Pundit

Too Much Solar in California? Not If You Bottle It

By Lauren Sommer, KQED

The cost of solar power has plummeted in recent years, which has led to a renewable energy boom in California.

But there’s a big hang-up: solar energy doesn’t provide a 24-hour supply. When the sun sets, the power from solar farms drops off, just as California needs it most. That’s sparked new interest in technology that stores electricity. And the energy storage technology race is going far beyond your typical battery.

Solar Peaking

“Pretty much everyday, we hit peak output,” says Michael Wheeler, a vice president at Recurrent Energy in San Francisco, looking at a screen showing the solar farms his company manages. But earlier this spring, something happened that, at first, doesn’t seem to make sense.

It was the middle of the day, when one of the solar farms was cranking out electricity, and his company got a message. There was too much electricity on the grid. The electric grid managers were telling solar farms to shut down. “The project went from almost peak output to zero for about two hours,” he says.

This happens on sunny, spring days when there is plenty of solar power but Californians aren’t using a lot of air conditioning yet, so demand for power is low. The solar and wind power comes in on top of what natural gas power plants are generating. Because renewable energy production goes up and down with passing clouds and wind conditions, grid operators say they need the continuous supply from natural gas to make up for those fluctuations.

Shutting down natural gas would leave the power supply less stable. Many gas plants can take between four and eight hours to restart, once they’re turned off. As more solar farms come online, the pressure to shut them down on mild, sunny days is only expected to become greater. California plans to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Read full article from KQED

Related article: What will California do with too much solar? (KQED) – April 4, 2016

The Hidden Cost of Solar + Energy Storage

By Jennifer Runyon, PennEnergy

Tom McCalmont, President McCalmont Engineering has been working on large solar projects for more than 15 years. The former CEO of Regrid Power, which in 2008 was purchased by Real Good Solar, his six-year old company McCalmont Engineering is fully dedicated to large solar and energy storage projects in California. “We do medium voltage interconnections, we do energy storage, we do NGOM meters, reverse-power relays, SCADA systems — so all of the things that people have problems with, we have expertise in,” he explained.

This expertise means that McCalmont understands what goes into interconnection and utility requirements for permitting and a little-known utility requirement called the NGOM, or “net-generation output meter” is making him very worried about the future of solar + energy storage projects, particularly in California.

“The issue that utilities are absolutely paranoid about is that people will use energy storage to somehow arbitrage energy rates,” explained McCalmont.

Because solar is net-metered and the owner is being paid at retail for exporting power to the grid, utilities are worried that if you add storage, you are going to sell all of your power at retail rates when they are high and buy it back when it is cheap, he explained. In other words, utilities are worried that system owners will sell more energy to the utility than their solar is actually producing because they could, in theory, draw down their energy storage system and put it on the grid.

“The technique they developed to stop this is the NGOM,” said McCalmont.

An NGOM is a second utility meter that you have to install when you have multiple sources of onsite generation, said McCalmont. “So if you have solar and storage or solar and a fuel cell or solar and a generator whatever you might have, if you have multiple sources of generation they want to make sure that that other source of generation can’t be used to get retail credit like you can with solar under net-metering.”

Read full article from PennEnergy

PG&E Presents Innovative Energy Storage Agreements

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) this week expanded its commitment to clean energy by presenting its first 75MW of energy storage contracts to the California Public Utilities Commission for review and approval. California’s Energy Storage Decision requires investor-owned utilities to procure 1,325MW of storage by 2020. PG&E’s share is 580MW.

Storage is expected to play an increasingly important role for California utilities as they work to achieve the states ambitious clean energy goals. By the end of 2015, PG&E forecasts that about 30 percent of its retail electric deliveries will come from renewable sources. Energy storage will help integrate many of those resources, such as wind and solar, which are intermittent or provide peak output during times of low demand.

Energy storage has been a part of PG&E’s power mix for decades, starting with the Helm’s Hydroelectric Facility and continuing with pilot projects such as the 2MW Battery Storage Pilot at the Vacaville Substation and the 4MW Yerba Buena Battery Energy Storage System located on the property of Silicon Valley storage technology company HGST.

The seven projects selected include four Lithium Ion Battery projects, two Zinc/Air Battery storage facilities and one Flywheel project, a first for PG&E. Flywheel technology uses kinetic energy to store energy and later supply that energy to the grid. The first projects are due to come online in May of 2017.

Read full press release from PG&E

Energy Storage: Power Revolution

By Peter Fairley, Nature

It is 2025 and another sweltering summer’s day in California. Millions of solar panels are soaking up the Sun’s rays to power the air-conditioning systems that keep homes and offices throughout the state cool. The devices are working efficiently thanks to an intelligent conversation taking place between the appliances and the electrical grid. As clouds drift across the Sun, casting shadows, the air conditioners deftly increase or decrease their output in sync with the varying flow of solar energy. In areas where the demand for electricity looks as though it will overload the power-transmission lines, home air-conditioning units take it in turns to go offline for an hour. In other areas, where solar power threatens to exceed demand, hot-water heaters are turned on to absorb the extra energy.

This imagined future power grid demonstrates the same degree of flexibility that energy-storage advocates predict will occur with the widespread implementation of batteries, but there is no electrochemistry involved — software manipulates energy-consuming equipment so that most electricity is used when it is most abundant, cheap or green.

The concept is called ‘demand dispatch’, because it would activate and deactivate power demand — much as grid operators dynamically dispatch electricity generated by power plants today. In the future, power grids will probably use both the ‘virtual storage’ created by demand dispatch and the true energy storage from batteries. But demand dispatch could be the bigger player of the two, with smart use of existing appliances offering a smaller environmental footprint and slimmer price tag than batteries.

Read full article in Nature

From theory to practice: The challenges in moving to ‘Utility 2.0’

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

For all the theorizing about what the utility of the future will look like, real world examples of how to adapt current power sector business models to the new world of renewables and distributed resources can seem few and far between.

While utilities often trumpet their new smart grid technologies, microgrid projects and storage pilots, actually working out how to make those solutions scalable and profitable can be a lot harder than it looks from the outside.

But utilities across the nation can learn from each other’s experiences, with the aim that the questionable technologies of the day can become the ubiquitous tools of tomorrow.

That was the goal of the emerging technologies panel at the recently-concluded Energy Storage North America 2015 conference in San Diego. There, representatives from four major utilities—PG&E, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Southern California Edison, and Consolidated Edison—highlighted the challenges and successes of a diverse set of DER pilots, hoping their struggles could translate into easier adoption of distributed resources and demand side resources at other companies…

Read full article from Utility Dive

San Francisco braces for the Big One with microgrids

By Laurie Guevara-Stone, RMI Outlet

In 2008 the U.S. Geological Survey reported that California has a 99 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years. Just last year, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake knocked out power to more than 40,000 people in the San Francisco Bay area. This was the fourth earthquake of magnitude 6 or greater to hit the Bay Area since 1979, including the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in 1989 that knocked out power to 1.4 million people. So the city of San Francisco is not taking any chances—it’s preparing for the (next) big one with microgrids.

“The whole western side of the city is built on sand; if we have a massive earthquake, the gas infrastructure will be shot, and we could face an extended power outage,” said Cal Broomhead, energy and climate program manager for San Francisco’s Department of the Environment (SF Environment). If the gas pipeline infrastructure is destroyed, it knocks out the natural gas-fired central thermal plants and prevents the use of distributed natural gas generators, so the city wanted to find a distributed solution to provide backup emergency power, one that didn’t rely on diesel.

In 2015 the city received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Market Pathways Program to integrate solar and energy storage into San Francisco’s emergency response plans. SF Environment is leading the project with the engineering firm ARUP acting as the primary subcontractor, and several consultants providing technical support and expertise. The local utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, one of California’s three major investor-owned utilities, is part of the grant as well.

Read full article from RMI Outlet