Tag: StorageFeatured

The Hidden Cost of Solar + Energy Storage

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.

What’s the Problem?

 “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.

Are German Transmission System Operators Against Energy Storage?

September 16 was a big day at Younicos this year, as it marked the one-year anniversary of the commissioning of Europe’s first commercial battery park in Schwerin. The mood among the political and energy industry leaders who gathered to mark the occasion in this picturesque Northern German town was upbeat: The 5-megawatt system, designed and delivered by Younicos, had exceeded revenue forecasts in its first year of operation. It had not only won every weekly auction for primary frequency regulation it had bid into, it also achieved an impressive average price of €3,810 per megawatt. And the outlook is even more gratifying: By the end of August, the revenue target for the 2015 calendar year had already been reached.

Hawaiian Home a Solar-Battery Storage Microgrid Showcase

Combining performance-enhanced PV panels, advanced battery storage and cloud-connected system monitoring, a residential microgrid now up and running on the ¨Big Island¨ of Hawaii’s Kona Coast shows how PV and clean tech innovators are bringing renewable energy self-sufficiency closer to commercial, mass-market reality. The smart solar-battery storage microgrid now up and running at Bakken Hale, the home of environmentalist, inventor and entrepreneur Earl Bakken, is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Installed by Aloha State solar installer Renewable Energy Systems    (RES) and Silicon Valley-based Tigo Energy, a ground-mounted array of 176-kW PV panels is able to produce 356-MWh of emissions-free electricity per year over a projected 20-year lifecycle. That’s enough to meet all of Bakken Hale’s power needs, the two project partners stated in a press release.

Vehicle to Grid Energy Storage Experiment Underway in California

In a new pilot program, a California utility is paying drivers of BMW electric cars to delay charging their vehicles when the power grid is under pressure.

One hundred owners of BMW AG’s i3 hatchback receive $1,000 upfront to participate in Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s 18-month trial, which starts this week and is confined to the San Francisco Bay Area. Peter Berman, a 70-year-old, semi-retired Los Altos psychologist, was selected from about 400 applicants.

The Lessons Coal and Electricity Markets of the Past Can Offer Solar+Storage Markets Today

The path to scaling up clean energy technologies like solar+storage sometimes can seem like unchartered territory. It can be challenging to figure out the best strategies to develop large, mainstream markets for clean energy technologies. So, it’s good to know that we’ve been on this path before, and that energy transitions of the past can provide some lessons for the future.

Competition in Booming Energy Storage Market Continues To Heat Up

Australia, the sunniest continent, is luring solar battery suppliers from Tesla Motors Inc. to LG Corp. as the global roll out of the technology for home and business power storage gathers pace.

At stake is a domestic market that could be worth A$24 billion ($18 billion), according to Morgan Stanley. Australia leads the world in putting solar panels on roofs, and by 2040, about one in two homes are forecast to rely on sun power.

Elon Musk’s Tesla plans early next year to bring its new batteries to Australia, which will join Germany as its first two markets outside the U.S. LG Chem will offer new technology to Australian homes in August, while Panasonic Corp. plans to begin selling its batteries in the country in October.

“Australia has all the criteria that you would look for — high sunshine, high energy prices and low financing costs,” Michael Parker, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in Hong Kong, said by phone. “It’s a good test market.”

With solar power set to draw $3.7 trillion in investment through 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, interest in power storage is surging.

LG Chem wants to capture 30 percent of the Australian market, the South Korean company said in an e-mail response to questions. The industry could could grow 15-fold in the next two years to more than 30,000 storage systems, it said.

Storage Units

Samsung SDI Co., meanwhile, is testing its storage units with Australian retailer Origin Energy Ltd., which expects to offer the products to customers later this year, and AU Optronics Corp. of Taiwan is working with AGL Energy Ltd.

Government subsidies and falling prices fueled a wave of growth in solar panel installations in Australia, and the country is set to see further expansion. About 6 million, or half of Australian homes, are forecast to have solar systems by 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“The ability to store the energy that’s generated by solar is a huge opportunity within this market,” Heath Walker, Tesla’s marketing manager in Melbourne, said by phone. In coming months, the company plans to unveil battery partnerships with utilities or solar developers in Australia, he said.

Battery storage does face obstacles, though, with the cost and the size of the systems needed to maintain a reliable power source deterring some consumers, the Grattan Institute found.

Falling Tariffs

“Everybody says it’s an emerging market, but I’m not sure many people have bought batteries yet,” Origin’s Managing Director Grant King said in an interview. “Will we see a wholesale migration of customers off the grid because of batteries? My answer is no.”

Declining battery costs, surging electricity prices and falling tariffs for feeding excess power to the grid could drive storage, the Australian Energy Market Operator found.

Battery storage will allow homes with solar panels to store excess electricity for later use, reducing peak power consumption and potentially energy costs, Panasonic said.

“Storage is coming,” Panasonic’s local Managing Director Paul Reid said in a June 2 interview. “There may be things that impact the speed of the roll out, but it will dramatically change the landscape of the energy sector in Australia.”