Tag Archives: Solar Energy Storage Systems

PG&E Presents Innovative Energy Storage Agreements

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) this week expanded its commitment to clean energy by presenting its first 75MW of energy storage contracts to the California Public Utilities Commission for review and approval. California’s Energy Storage Decision requires investor-owned utilities to procure 1,325MW of storage by 2020. PG&E’s share is 580MW.

Storage is expected to play an increasingly important role for California utilities as they work to achieve the states ambitious clean energy goals. By the end of 2015, PG&E forecasts that about 30 percent of its retail electric deliveries will come from renewable sources. Energy storage will help integrate many of those resources, such as wind and solar, which are intermittent or provide peak output during times of low demand.

Energy storage has been a part of PG&E’s power mix for decades, starting with the Helm’s Hydroelectric Facility and continuing with pilot projects such as the 2MW Battery Storage Pilot at the Vacaville Substation and the 4MW Yerba Buena Battery Energy Storage System located on the property of Silicon Valley storage technology company HGST.

The seven projects selected include four Lithium Ion Battery projects, two Zinc/Air Battery storage facilities and one Flywheel project, a first for PG&E. Flywheel technology uses kinetic energy to store energy and later supply that energy to the grid. The first projects are due to come online in May of 2017.

Read full press release from PG&E

SunPower Plans to Sell Rooftop Solar Electricity in California

By Mark Chediak, Bloomberg Business

SunPower Corp., the second-biggest U.S. solar manufacturer, is developing a plan to sell electricity in California.

As the company combines its rooftop solar, energy storage and management systems, it will tap those resources to sell into the California bulk-power marketplace, Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said in an interview Tuesday at the Edison Electric Institute Financial Conference in Hollywood, Florida.

“Participating in the wholesale markets is definitely where we will go,” Werner said. The company will initially focus on selling batteries along with its solar systems for backup power and reduction of power use during peak demand hours. “Walk before you run,” he said.

The move would represent a shift for SunPower, which has focused on making panels and developing solar farms. It comes after the California Independent System Operator Corp. approved in July rules that would allow aggregated distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar and batteries to participate for the first time in the state’s wholesale power market.

Read full article from Bloomberg Business

San Francisco braces for the Big One with microgrids

By Laurie Guevara-Stone, RMI Outlet

In 2008 the U.S. Geological Survey reported that California has a 99 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years. Just last year, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake knocked out power to more than 40,000 people in the San Francisco Bay area. This was the fourth earthquake of magnitude 6 or greater to hit the Bay Area since 1979, including the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in 1989 that knocked out power to 1.4 million people. So the city of San Francisco is not taking any chances—it’s preparing for the (next) big one with microgrids.

“The whole western side of the city is built on sand; if we have a massive earthquake, the gas infrastructure will be shot, and we could face an extended power outage,” said Cal Broomhead, energy and climate program manager for San Francisco’s Department of the Environment (SF Environment). If the gas pipeline infrastructure is destroyed, it knocks out the natural gas-fired central thermal plants and prevents the use of distributed natural gas generators, so the city wanted to find a distributed solution to provide backup emergency power, one that didn’t rely on diesel.

In 2015 the city received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Market Pathways Program to integrate solar and energy storage into San Francisco’s emergency response plans. SF Environment is leading the project with the engineering firm ARUP acting as the primary subcontractor, and several consultants providing technical support and expertise. The local utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, one of California’s three major investor-owned utilities, is part of the grant as well.

Read full article from RMI Outlet

How Solar, Batteries and Time-of-Use Pricing Can Add Up to Value

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

There’s definitely a value to storing solar energy in batteries, and then discharging that energy to meet grid and customer needs. Measuring that value — and finding a way to share it between battery-equipped solar customers and their utilities — is a trickier matter.

Out in Sacramento, Calif., a long-running solar-storage pilot project has been testing out this interplay. The city’s utility, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), has been working with startup Sunverge to align the operation of 34 battery-backed, PV-equipped homes with its needs to shave peak demand in late summer afternoons, when air-conditioning loads put stress on the grid.

SMUD is using critical peak pricing as its lever. Since 2012, the utility has been running an experiment with residential rate plans that charge extra-high prices during “critical peak period” days, in exchange for extra-low prices at other times. Some customers were offered the option of signing up for the plan — and others were automatically enrolled.

Read full article from Greentech Media

Renewable Energy’s Potential May Be Understated

By Gabriel Kahn, The Wall Street Journal

In February 2013, California energy officials sat down with power-industry executives to figure out how to avert an approaching calamity: The rapid rollout of wind and solar electricity was stressing the state’s grid. The more renewable energy California added, the more its power supply could be whipsawed by a cloudy day or a windy storm. Some at the meeting warned that problems, such as rolling brownouts, could start to show up later that year.

Those same worries were being echoed across the county as state authorities struggled to load aging electricity grids with ever-greater amounts of renewable power. At the time, renewable energy accounted for about 14% of California’s electricity output. Today, California often gets as much as 30% of its power from renewables; there are periods of the day when production can soar to 40%. California legislators just approved a plan that would require half of all power to come from renewables by 2030. Still, the tipping point the power industry feared hasn’t materialized.

The experience of California and other states with high concentrations of solar and wind is challenging long-held assumptions about the limits of renewable energy. As the boundary of what is considered possible expands, so does the momentum around investment in new technology and resources. Plenty of risks still remain. But the fact that the grid has been able to handle more renewables than previously thought is driving massive changes through the industry. One of the places it is being felt most acutely is among utilities.

Read full article in the Wall Street Journal

What’s Included in the Price of Your Home Battery System?

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

When it comes to opening the market for battery-backed solar homes, hitting the right price point will be critical. But getting the right combination of services will be equally important.

Tesla set the bar for low-price home energy storage in May, when it announced a $3,500 wholesale price for its 10-kilowatt Powerwall home battery system, with key partner SolarCity offering the unit as part of new solar installations. There’s been some confusion about final pricing, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in June that it’s targeting a purchase and installation price of about $4,000.

That’s a lot lower than the prices coming from competitors in the home solar-battery space. Take Sonnenbatterie, the startup that’s sold thousands of batteries for solar homes in Germany, and has launched a U.S. partnership with solar company Sungevity. The company is pricing its 4-kilowatt battery system for $10,000.

Read full article from Greentech Media

Opinion: Apple, Tesla and Why We Need to Take Solar Seriously

By Nathan Homan, Solar Novus Today

The solar industry is hot on the public’s radar thanks to recent announcements from Apple and Tesla confirming they have some major solar projects in the works. If solar wants to stay at the forefront of public consciousness, it’s crucial to understand what the major players are doing (and why) and what it means for the future of the industry.

Apple recently announced it would be spending $850 million to purchase 130 megawatts of capacity from First Solar’s California Flats Solar Project to build a massive power plant in California. The company intends to use this to power many of its stores in the state, and possibly other similar operations such as data centers or its Cupertino, California headquarters. This isn’t Apple’s first foray into solar, the company has been slowly implementing the projects needed to operate on 100% renewable energy and just recently announced they had accomplished said goal in the US and are at about 87% abroad. This deal with First Solar, however, is by far the largest and most ambitious move to date.

Tesla has also begun making waves in the solar industry with an announcement recently to partner with Solar City to put Tesla batteries to use in homes and micro grids in the coming months. This plan has the potential to open up the solar market to new types of users and expanded system sizes. This is an opportunity for Tesla to finally get in front of consumers and solar developers that it hasn’t been able to target through its vehicles.

Any time a major company like Apple or Tesla makes a move to shake up an industry, it presents the opportunity for a ripple effect of innovation within it. Solar startups specifically, have the potential to truly benefit from big companies giving investors a reason to pay attention.

Read full op-ed from Solar Novus Today