Energy Storage Has A Breakout Year On Both Sides Of The Meter
forbes.com Mar 4, 2019 Jeff McMahon Contributor
2018 may have been the year of residential energy storage, according to a leading analyst, but grid storage was no slouch.
2018 was also the year that grid-level batteries broke out of early adopter states, said Dan Finn-Foley, a senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, and began appearing in places that might once have seemed unlikely.
"This isn’t just a Starbucks in California talking about energy storage," Finn-Foley said Thursday. "We have Alabama, this past quarter Georgia, the Carolinas talking about energy storage. This tells you this is about cost. This is not an emotional decision. This is now about finding the least-cost solution, as a utility, to customers. And that’s a big deal.
"If you can tell a utility this is your least-cost solution, your market is about to take off, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen for front-of-the-meter energy storage."
Wood Mackenzie has not yet released its report on 2018, but Finn-Foley offered a sneak preview to Clean Energy States Alliance members Thursday, telling them that the fourth quarter of 2018 broke energy-storage records everywhere.
"The really exciting news is Q4 2018. Q4 2018 is going to beat these records handily, quite handily. Even from the front-of-the-meter side, residential/non-residential storage, every metric is going to set a new record for quarter-by-quarter deployments of energy storage."
While residential storage may still be driven more by emotion than economics, grid-level storage is reaching the magic point where the cost curve crosses the value line.
"That intersection is emerging, that point where cost meets value, sooner than a lot of people in the market anticipated, and the market’s responding. We’re seeing a lot of interest not only in the traditional markets with policy mechanisms in place—California, New York, Massachusetts, etc—but in these non-traditional markets where utilities are looking at solar-plus-storage competing directly with conventional generation peaking applications."
In addition to the Southeast, notable solar+storage projects have emerged in Florida, Minnesota, Texas, and Arizona.
Arizona Public Service recently made headlines by expanding its procurement of 500 MW of storage+solar by 2030 to 850 MW by 2025. But APS also entered into a 7-year contract to buy power from a natural-gas plant. Why is that significant? Because it wasn't a 20-year contract.
"They're saying in 7 years, I don't even know if we're going to want this natural gas. So we need the flexibility to take it or leave it. I know I say this a lot, this word, but that is a huge signpost. It's absolutely remarkable that energy storage+solar is so competitive that it is affecting the kind of contracts that a natural-gas plant can receive. This is becoming an existential—I don't want to say threat—an existential disruptor for the entire energy market."
Customers reap the benefits of a booming solar energy industry
by Sam Knef | Newschannel 3 Monday, March 4th 2019
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — "When I've been out in the summertime, mowing my lawn for example, people will stop and ask about it, so others are interested,” said Mary Ann Renz.
Renz had solar panels installed on her roof on the last day of 2016. Since then, she said, she's already reaped the benefits.
"So, there are months when I don't pay for any energy use at all in the summertime,” she said. “Even this past month, I think about half of my electricity bill was paid for by solar, and that's winter time, when the production from my rooftop solar is more limited."
Renz paid $11,446 to have her system installed. It's projected to pay for itself in seven years. Renz said she thinks it’ll be sooner; but to her, saving money is secondary to saving the earth.
She’s active with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a group working to get Congress to pass legislation that would incentivize development of renewable energy.
An interest in renewable energy is the same reason Helios Solar, the Kalamazoo company that installed her system, got into the business 10 years ago, when things were completely different.
"Solar 10 years ago was not economically viable at all,” said Sam Field, who is the co-owner of Helios Solar along with his son.
Field said the solar panels of today are 50 percent more efficient, and cost 15 percent of what they did when he started. (The president of Michigan Solar Solutions, Mark Hagerty, said panels cost 25 percent of what they did 10 years ago.) Field said inverters that convert the DC power the panels produce into AC, the kind that powers an average building, cost 10 percent of what they did 10 years ago.
He said solar has been jump started by government incentives and mandates, and has gone from a cottage industry to worldwide. Solar is now economically viable, according to Field.
"We're past the inflection point. We currently are able to provide people with solar equipment at a cost that is lower than what they would pay, certain people, lower than what they would pay the utility for the electricity that the solar provides,” Field said.
He said panels are becoming more mainstream in Michigan. Field said it’s a misconception that solar can’t be viable in cold, cloudy climates. He said Michigan gets 15 percent less power from the sun per panel than a sunny state like Arizona. However, Field said, solar panels are affected by heat, and produce less power the warmer they get. Field said being cooler mostly offsets the lack of sunshine for Michigan.
With the advances in productivity, and the equipment costing less, Field said business has been booming.
“We are so busy this year. we can't keep up with the work we have,” Field said.
Not every house is a good candidate for solar, however, according to Field. In fact, he estimated maybe one 10 meet the requirements.
He said houses must have good sun exposure, and little shading, to be good candidates. South-facing houses work best.
Hagerty said advances in technology have made meeting certain requirements less of an issue for houses going solar. He said when he started in the industry 10 years ago, east and west facing buildings going solar didn’t make financial sense, but it does now. He said northwest and northeast facing buildings are even starting to be viable, and he said north facing houses will eventually.
"My house is eastern facing, and it's shaded, and I haven't paid an electric bill since mid 2015,” Hagerty said. "In the last couple years, the industry has grown leaps and bounds. With the ever-increasing cost of electricity, and the technological innovations of what we do, it now makes complete sense to proceed doing solar in Michigan.
Field said, for houses that are good candidates, every dollar spent on going solar is an eight to 10 cent reduction in someone’s electric bill (in other words, a solar panel installation can pay for itself on average in eight to 10 years), and people who go solar qualify for an investment tax credit that’s 30 percent of the installation price.
He said the more that is spent on solar projects and the bigger they are, the more efficient they become, but he said even smaller scale projects are now viable.
"I'm obviously biased, but I feel like there are certain kinds of buildings that are built in Michigan that it ought to be the law, you have to put solar on it, because it makes so much sense,” Field said.
Beyond financial savings, both Field and Hagerty said there are plenty of environmentally conscious reasons people should go solar as well.
"There's no emissions. There's no fuel. There's no noise, unlike wind. Solar doesn't move, it doesn't make noise. It doesn't vibrate. It doesn't kill birds. You know, and frequently, people don't even know it's there,” Field said.
A modernized version of the solar panel is the solar shingle, which instead of sitting on a roof, replaces the roof.
They're more expensive to install, and Field said not yet economically viable. He said the panels his company use today are very similar to the ones used 50 years ago, because it’s a proven technology that has been fine tuned, and is long lasting.
Hagerty, whose company is based in Wixom, agreed the shingles are not quite viable just yet. His company is just starting to sell and install the shingles, and he said they'll be a niche market starting out.
"They're not quite as efficient as the solar panels, yet,” he said. "As the technology increases, and the factors can continuously pump them out, 24/7, 365, like they do traditional panels, the price will start falling, and when it starts falling, the builders will start adopting them, and they'll be much more mainstream."
Hagerty said he sees a day where all portions of buildings hit by the sun will be built with material that produces power.
As the industry continues to evolve, both men say collaboration between solar companies and utilities will be vital.
Currently, there is contention over net metering, which is the exchange of power between customers and utilities when they produce more or less power than they need.
Field pointed out that many utilities argue they're not getting fair value for the fact they are providing backup power to people with solar installations.
However, Field argues there is a time value to electricity. He said at 2 a.m., nuclear and coal power plants produce power that few people are using. The price of that power on the wholesale market is very little compared to peak hours. He said solar only produces power at peak hours during the day, and that should be factored into the exchange between customers and utilities.
Field again acknowledged his bias, but said he sees going solar continuing to become more commonplace. In the meantime, his company will continue to live by its motto.
"You know, try every year to install as many solar panels as we can before we die.”
I think there are things we should all be doing to become better stewards of our home(Earth). That being said, it's gonna take money. Gates, Buffet, Koch, Walton, Zuckerberg, Bezos kinda money.
And will power. The good news is that renewables are now becoming competitive with other forms of generating electricity and that much of what we use hydrocarbons for can be replace, indeed in some cases, vastly improved by going electric. The cost to transition should be largely offset by new jobs and industries driven by innovation. What the average household pays for electricity will not increase and could very well decrease.
Arizona’s biggest electric utility is going big on batteries
PHOENIX – Arizona’s biggest electric utility is going big on batteries.
Arizona Public Service Co. plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to add large, building-size batteries to the power grid, aiming to use their capacity to store surplus power available early in the day when solar power plants are productive.
The power stored in batteries then would be used in the evening when customers need the energy after solar panels power down for the night, the Arizona Republic reported.
“Arizona is already a national leader in solar energy. The challenge is, no one has figured out how to stop the sun from setting at night,” said Don Brandt, APS chairman and CEO. “As storage technology improves and declines in cost, we will increasingly be able to store the power of the sun cost-effectively to deliver when our customers need it.”
Phoenix-based APS serves about 2.7 million people in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties.
One megawatt is approximately enough energy to power 250 homes, meaning that 850 megawatts of the batteries APS plans could supply about 212,500 homes for three to four hours.
APS didn’t provide cost estimates for the entire project because of proprietary information from its construction powers and because not all work has been put out to bid.
But the battery technology’s price has fallen and company officials said 100 megawatts of battery capacity with four hours of storage generally costs about $120 million, the Republic reported.
That would put the total cost of the projects at more than $1 billion, with APS owning some of the projects and purchasing power from others.
Australia Adding One Mega-Solar Project Per Month
Australia is adding one mega-solar project equivalent per month, with the current installed base of 10 gigawatts projected to double by the end of 2020. The latest mega-solar project is the 333 megawatt Darlington Point Solar Farm headed for Griffith, New South Wales, according to Array Technologies, which is providing the single-axis trackers for the project.
Australia’s solar industry virtually rocketed during 2018, when 1.5 gigawatt (GW) of solar came online, roughly 10 times as much solar as came online in 2017 (around 150 MW), according to SunWize Solar Consultants. “You can reasonably expect that 2019 will set another record volume for solar farms commissioned,” the consultant projected in February.
Most of the Australian solar growth in generation capacity is coming from the utility segment. Although, commercial, industrial, and residential installs also continue at record paces, according to the Australian PV Institute (APVI). Australia now has over 10.1 GW of solar installed, capable of delivering 14.6 terawatt-hours of electricity per year and meeting more than 5.5% of Australia’s energy demand, the organization reckons.
Link to complete article:
Top Oil Execs Call for Change as Climate Concerns Threaten Industry
Some of the world’s top oil executives plan a call to action at the annual CERAWeek energy conference, arguing that companies need to address the sector’s contribution to climate change, which they say is turning off some investors.
CERAWeek is usually dominated by a full-throated defense of fossil fuels. But the industry is facing a “crisis of confidence,” Eldar Saetre, chief executive of Norwegian energy giant Equinor said in a speech Monday. “We need to drive this as an industry, to be part of the solution and not be dragged into a low-carbon future,” Mr. Saetre said in an interview the day before.
BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley is planning a Tuesday evening speech to call for the industry to respond to new demands for climate action, even as energy use continues to rise.
Royal Dutch Shell is the only Western oil-and-gas company that has agreed to set goals to reduce emissions from the end-use of its products. Some activists have applauded Shell’s move, while others have criticized it as insufficient.
Largest Community Solar & Storage Installation In Massachusetts Is Now Open For Business March 11th, 2019 by Steve Hanley
The largest community solar and energy storage installation in Massachusetts is now open for business. The 7.1 MW Happy Hollow Community Solar + Storage Farm is built at the site of a former gravel pit in Winchendon, a town in central Massachusetts, and includes 3.3 MWh of battery storage. The project is owned by SunRaise Investments. It was developed and constructed by Borrego Solar with CleanChoice Energy acting as the manager for subscriber services, which include acquisition, management, customer care, billing, and customer retention.
Solar energy: panel engineers move over to the dark side
The latest technical advance is helping convert more sunlight into renewable power
Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service.
When the UK’s largest subsidy-free solar farm opens later this year, there will be something a bit different about its panels: unlike traditional panels that absorb energy on only one side, these panels will be absorbing sunlight from both sides. The new solar farm in York, developed by Gridserve, uses “bifacial” modules, a technology that has become one of the fastest-growing trends in solar because it helps solar panels generate more electricity. The 35-megawatt plant will generate enough power for 10,000 homes. “Bifacial panels are a no-brainer,” says Toddington Harper, chief executive of Gridserve. “In our opinion, they will be the panel of choice for the utility-scale market.” He estimates the solar farm will generate 20 per cent more energy due to its combination of bifacial solar panels and trackers that enable each panel to follow the sun, compared with traditional static photovoltaic panels. Solar has become the world’s biggest source of new electricity — it is bigger than wind, gas, or coal in terms of new installed capacity each year, according to S&P Global. Last year some $131bn was invested in solar, in spite of decreasing government subsidies, according to BloombergNEF. However the solar sector has been relatively slow to innovate on the traditional photovoltaic panel, which is now seen as a low-margin, commoditised product. While the price of solar panels has fallen dramatically in the last decade, the improvement in the physical performance of standard panels has not changed nearly as much.