REV 2016 Conference & Expo Recap: Renewables, Grid Efficiency and Technological Innovation

Posted on: November 21, 2016

Daymark Principal Consultant Stan Faryniarz was a featured speaker at Renewable Energy Vermont's 2016 Conference & Expo (REV 2016) in Burlington, Vermont, where he addressed the market status, economics and future evolution of energy storage in a seminar session titled "Storage Project & Policy Successes: Enhancing Renewables' Integration & Resilience."

REV 2016 gathered regional leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities that arise from using renewable energy and efficiency-based solutions to address state and national energy demands. The conference included consideration of design best practices, public policy and regulations, stewardship, the economics of efficiency and the integration of renewables.

Faryniarz's presentation in the session examined the advancement of electricity generation storage technologies, grid-scale storage systems and behind-the-meter battery storage.

"The fundamental difference between electricity as a commodity and other commodities historically was that you couldn't store electricity," said Faryniarz. "As battery technology has advanced and price points have decreased, battery electric storage has become a promising solution for meeting peak demands and other grid challenges."

A case study on the Hawaiian island of Kauai was presented to show how the island is capitalizing on these technological advancements in batteries and other storage solutions to meet its 100 percent net renewable energy resource goal by 2045. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) serves the island and acts as its own system operator, balancing hourly loads with on-island generation resources, similar to a regional independent system operator (ISO).

The cooperative utility has recently contracted with a merchant, grid-scale, 13 megawatt solar-plus-storage system. The 52-megawatt hour Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion battery storage system is being used to feed up to 13 megawatts of electricity onto the grid to "shave" the amount of conventional power generation needed to meet peak demand in the evening.

KIUC is also developing a pumped storage hydro project to efficiently utilize significant amounts of utility and behind-the-meter solar output. The utility is using other renewable energy generated in daytime hours to provide electricity to its populace throughout the day and night―not only when the sun is shining.

Behind-the-meter (BTM) energy storage is gaining prevalence and could potentially outpace grid-scale storage by the end of the decade. Utilizing BTM storage allows ratepayers to use their stored energy when demand is highest instead of paying higher rates to the utility during these peak demand periods. With BTM, ratepayers and the utility eventually will be able to balance consumption with supply in the most cost efficient way.

Batteries currently are unable to provide the continued availability and affordability needed for their adoption in the residential market, but this is expected to change dramatically as costs come down and duty cycles improve. Deployments of BTM storage systems will also be incentivized if net energy metering rules continue to scale back grid export compensation, as time-of-use rate designs are implemented and with continued state and federal policy incentives.

Connect with Stan Faryniarz on LinkedIn or contact him here to continue the conversation.