ClearWorld October 2017 - Page 4


Hurricanes Harvey And Irma Show U.S. Must Boost Grid Resiliency. Energy Storage Is Doing Just That

Two new reports show customer-sited energy storage is one of America’s fastest-growing energy technologies, with record-breaking installations in the second quarter of 2017. Energy storage could soon become a standard offering for U.S. utilities looking to diversify their business models and improve grid resiliency in the face of increasing extreme storms like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Utilities, Consumers Adding On-Site Energy Storage At Record Pace

SEPA reports utilities added 75.5 MWh customer-sited storage (out of 257 MWh total capacity) in 2016, with the vast majority of capacity (68.2 MWh) going to non-residential customers. California, Indiana, and Ohio utilities added the most energy storage last year, and Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Hawaii round out the list for most cumulative energy storage deployment.

This pace is speeding up, according to GTM Research. 32 MWh of total capacity was installed in Q2 2017 – the most customer-sited residential and commercial ever installed in a single quarter. Residential growth surged in California and Hawaii, and non-residential deployments grew 151% over Q1 2017, led by California and New York.

Forward-thinking utilities are embracing this trend by exploring how to offer standalone storage projects and solar-plus-storage to customers as a line of business through sales, leasing, and operations-and-maintenance. Green Mountain Power became the first U.S. utility to offer its customers a solar-plus-storage off-grid service package in December 2016, saying “our energy future is one where more of our energy is generated closer to where it is needed and is home, business, and community-based.” Instead of viewing storage as a competitor for demand, the technology is becoming a way for utilities to expand their relationship with customers and meet shifting demands, which increasingly includes resilient power supplies during extreme weather.

On-Site Generation And Storage Protect Against Power Outages

A 2013 U.S. Department of Energy study found power outages caused by extreme weather had an average economy-wide cost of $18-$33 billion from 2003-2012, and urged investments in resilient infrastructure to strengthen the grid against the increasingly frequent and intense severe weather. Because of technology cost reductions, siting on-site generation and energy storage closer to customers is now cost-effective, allowing electricity service to continue uninterrupted in homes and at core infrastructure sites.

For instance, downtown Houston’s Texas Medical Center and a Houston-area supermarket chain relied on on-site generation and storage to keep operating during Harvey despite record flooding. These systems rely upon natural gas to operate, putting them beyond the financial reach of smaller businesses and homeowners. By comparison solar-plus-storage projects keep getting cheaper, can generate revenue by sending excess power back to the grid, have no need to refuel, and will keep generating on their own – usually without maintenance.

Hurricanes Harvey And Irma Show U.S. Must Boost Grid Resiliency. Energy Storage Is Doing Just That