It’s widely known that one of many best challenges in transitioning from an electrical grid powered predominantly by fossil fuels to 1 powered by clear vitality sources like photo voltaic and wind is the intermittency of many renewables.
Vitality storage presents a key resolution—providing, together with demand response and other load flexibility options—to be the “glue” that holds collectively a extra versatile and distributed grid.
Sadly, regardless of dramatic reductions in battery prices and demonstrated consumer demand, outdated interconnection insurance policies stay a big barrier to unlocking the total worth of vitality storage on the distribution grid. With out motion to treatment the shortcomings of those insurance policies–which management which storage capabilities are acknowledged and the way effectively they’re evaluated–that clear grid of the long run could also be out of attain, not less than inside the timeframe wanted to mitigate the worst impacts of local weather change.
Many states’ interconnection guidelines don’t explicitly handle vitality storage, creating uncertainty that slows and complicates the interconnection course of and that may negatively impression financing prospects. Moreover, many interconnection insurance policies use unrealistic assumptions when assessing the impacts of potential storage initiatives on the grid. These coverage flaws current important boundaries to unlocking the broad vitality storage deployment that will probably be wanted to attain high-renewable situations.
On this article, the second in a collection exploring the necessity for interconnection reform to allow fast deployment of unpolluted vitality to achieve local weather targets, we discover why current interconnection insurance policies are falling quick for vitality storage programs (ESS) and what will be accomplished to treatment the state of affairs. (Learn “Interconnection is broken: Radical rethinking is needed to achieve clean energy goals.”)
The distinctive worth of vitality storage
One of many main advantages of vitality storage, significantly when co-located with photo voltaic or different intermittent distributed vitality sources (DERs), is that storage presents the flexibleness to regulate when energy is exported to (or drawn from) the grid, mitigating the grid administration challenges introduced by these sources.
Software program (together with energy management programs or PCS) that manages vitality storage exports makes this attainable. For instance, as an alternative of exporting throughout the center of the day when there’s an extra of photo voltaic vitality, ESS can retailer that vitality and ship it to the grid within the night when photo voltaic is offline and residential vitality demand will increase.
Likewise, challenge builders may additionally suggest “working schedules” for his or her ESS initiatives, exporting kind of energy to the grid during times when the grid can accommodate extra technology (akin to when shoppers are utilizing extra energy to run air conditioners) and restrict export when the grid is extra constrained.
Storage programs is also designed to alter their export ranges in response to dynamic alerts, akin to demand response packages that disincentivize export throughout sure occasions of day.
Neither of those capabilities is in widespread use right this moment, nonetheless, and present interconnection guidelines are a key motive why.
PCS additionally permits DER initiatives with vitality storage to be designed as “non-export” initiatives that don’t export energy to the grid, or “restricted export” initiatives that don’t export over a sure threshold. This selection will be significantly useful in permitting DER initiatives to proceed in areas of the grid which might be capability constrained.
Most interconnection insurance policies presently require particular person challenge house owners to pay the total value of any distribution grid upgrades which might be wanted to accommodate their challenge. As a result of improve prices are excessive, this issue could stop new initiatives in areas of the grid with excessive penetrations of DERs. Interconnection clients can keep away from hefty grid improve charges by designing their initiatives to function as non- or limited-export programs, which might cut back grid impacts. Howver, few interconnection procedures present a transparent pathway for such programs.
The controllability of storage
Sadly, most interconnection insurance policies hinder using all of those useful vitality storage capabilities. That’s as a result of the “screening” or “examine” course of, wherein utilities consider the potential impacts of a proposed distributed technology facility looking for to connect with the grid, typically fails to acknowledge the controllable nature of vitality storage.
The present default technique is to review initiatives with the belief that the challenge could export or import its full capability at any time, versus with the ability to cut back capability throughout particular occasions or to restrict it altogether. This assumption could result in pointless and time-consuming research that sluggish the interconnection course of, or to pricey upgrades that will make initiatives infeasible. This makes it more durable for challenge builders to deploy initiatives which might be particularly designed to offer useful companies on the grid.
Interconnection guidelines want to incorporate revised screening and examine processes for most of these programs if we wish to unlock the distinctive worth of ESS in enabling a high-DER future. Processes for evaluating non- or restricted export initiatives will must be developed. Extra processes will must be outlined for evaluating programs that export various quantities of energy at completely different occasions, akin to based mostly on an working profile.
A number of states, together with California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Nevada, have up to date their interconnection guidelines with these challenges in thoughts. Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York are actively engaged on this, whereas associated proposals have been launched in Colorado, New Mexico, Maine, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Whereas these states are making progress, no jurisdiction has developed a simple course of that really permits these capabilities in an environment friendly method.
Thus, additional consideration will probably be wanted to make sure that this barrier is addressed in all states. Given the essential nature of integrating vitality storage onto the grid to satisfy local weather targets, mixed with the truth that ESS is quickly turning into a bigger a part of the market, these are key questions that needs to be on the forefront for any state opening an interconnection docket or adopting insurance policies to allow extra DERs.
Luckily, forthcoming sources will make this simpler. The Building a Technically Reliable Interconnection Evolution for Storage (BATRIES) challenge, supported by the U.S. Division of Vitality Photo voltaic Vitality Applied sciences Workplace and led by the Interstate Renewable Vitality Council (IREC) and companions, goals to simplify the interconnection course of for vitality storage.
As a part of a toolkit of options that the crew will develop to handle key boundaries to vitality storage interconnection, the BATRIES challenge will produce sources to tell the event of up to date examine processes that may be included into interconnection guidelines. The challenge goals to achieve regulators and utilities in a majority of states with sources to reform vitality storage interconnection.
Gwen Brown is communications director on the Interstate Renewable Vitality Council. This text is the second in a four-part collection on interconnection reform. Within the subsequent article, we are going to discover the necessity for higher accountability within the interconnection course of. A subsequent article will discover the necessity for elevated information entry and transparency.
The views and opinions expressed on this article are the creator’s personal, and don’t essentially mirror these held by pv journal.
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