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What's Going On in New York Energy Storage?

Harry Davies

 

Energy storage has become a big talk issue across the United States. Storing the energy from the sun and wind and having enough power during high use times has always been a complex issue. Energy storage is poised to propel renewable energy into the future.

Energy storage is an important component of renewable systems for both residential and commercial applications. It is what provides energy when less then ideal weather patterns (or simply nightfall) impacts solar arrays and wind turbines.

New York’s Big Step Towards Storage

In his state of the state address, Mario Cuomo made a bold statement. He announced that by 2025 New York would have 1,500 MW in energy storage capacity. To better understand this path to greater sustainability, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), has developed the New York State Energy Storage Road Map which focuses on:

 - Improving efficiency and streamlining the system by encouraging investment from third parties.

 - Marketing to and promoting competition to quicken the pace of cost reduction

- Making it easier to receive and access finance and data information that will target high need areas of the grid where storage will be most beneficial.

This roadmap provides long-term sustainability and cleans energy for NY. In addition, the state anticipates that it will raise $2 billion in gross benefits and create 30,000 jobs.  The environmental benefits and stability that energy storage brings to the grid will help lower the costs of utilities to residential and business consumers.

Energy Storage Financial Incentives

The New York Green Bank, a division of NYSERDA is seeking proposals and solicitations for a wide range of clean energy products. The roadmap recommends using $350 million that was already authorized for clean energy. In addition, they will include the solar plus storage projects.

The Green Energy Road Map will remove one million tons of carbon pollution over the next ten years simply by avoiding using power plants during peak times. The market for energy storage was up again in the third quarter of 2018.

The cost of lithium-ion batteries has decreased dramatically lowering the overall costs of energy storage. With the goal of 20% of total electricity generation supplied by renewables in the next ten years, the process of energy storage must be cost-efficient and manageable.

New York City has mapped out its power plants noting which ones are most pollutive and operate during peak times. Some of these 50+-year-old plants still burn oil or kerosene. As NYC develops energy storage these plants will be reduced or eliminated.

Reduction of these plants will also reduce harmful smog and ozone levels which often lead to asthma and other health conditions. Low-income areas are often the most polluted. Energy storage will help save on medical care as well.

Challenges of New York Energy Road Map

The long-term goal is certainly admirable, however certain challenges will need to be met and conquered. Energy storage development is still in its infancy and the world is watching to see how New York handles the processes.

Energy storage is a unique part of the total system. It is not the generation of power nor is it load, even though it acts like both.

While taking pollutive plants out of operation may seem simple, there is actually red tape and legislation which will need to be dealt with. Many of these plants fall under the under the compensation within the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO).

There is uncertainty with revenues with NYISO. So much so that AES moved an 8-MW energy storage system from NY and to Ohio in part because of uncertainty in this market.

Several large companies such as Enel and Borrego Solar have expressed concerns about the procurement process. Specifically, Enel stated that says that “utilities should let bidders know what it would cost for them to install conventional infrastructure instead of a non-wires alternative in any given situation.”

Utilities don’t want to release that information because they say it will lead to higher bids. Enel responded by saying that there was a lot of work that goes into the bid and energy storage companies need to know what to expect and if they can be competitive.

Utility companies expressed a concern that these projects won't allow the biggest bang for the buck and help the utility company with large distribution. They are against smaller storage units on individual properties.

There are a lot of different players involved in the Energy Road Map. Negotiations will continue to iron out details so that utilities, industry, and residents can all benefit.