PV makes New York grow storage mix

New York State is looking to storage to help cope with growth in renewable energy generation. Pic: Zoltan Kovacs on Unsplash.

New York State is looking to storage to help cope with growth in renewable energy generation. Pic: Zoltan Kovacs on Unsplash.

By Jason Deign

America’s New York State is pumping millions into diversifying its energy storage mix as solar-based renewable penetration mushrooms.

In June the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) pledged USD$6.3m for storage technologies “that have not yet been commercialized but could support renewable power,” a press note said.

The move is significant because New York State has one of America’s most ambitious electricity decarbonisation programmes, alongside California. Other states will be watching NYSERDA’s progress with interest.

“There’s a lot of opportunities that are untapped right now,” Gregory Pedrick, NYSERDA’s project manager for renewable resource optimisation, told Energy Storage Report.

“Most of our storage in New York State is pumped hydro, and that’s been the play for years. We’re trying to dent that large percentage of the pie with flywheels, batteries, thermal and demand management.” 

Energy storage in New York State

Around 97% of all energy storage in New York State is provided by the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project, which was built in the 1930s and has a capacity of more than 1.1GW.

The plant has served the state well over the years, but a changing energy mix is now forcing NYSERDA to look at increasing system flexibility with other types of storage besides pumped hydro.

New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy aims for a 40% cut in 1990 carbon emission levels by 2030, and an 80% reduction by 2050.

To achieve this, by 2030 the state is looking to have moved 50% of all electricity generation to renewable energy sources including solar, wind, hydropower and biomass.

Solar will play a prominent part in achieving this clean energy standard. 

Installing 3GW of solar power

Under a programme called NY-Sun, for example, New York State has committed $13m to help install 3GW of solar power across low-to-moderate income communities in the next 10 years.

A separate programme, K-Solar, aims to help primary and secondary education schools adopt solar power. So far 40% of all public school districts have signed up.

Overall, New York State is looking to spend $1bn on developing a self-sustaining solar market with 3GW of capacity by 2022.

The state has already installed more than 1GW of PV, according to the US Solar Energy Industries Association. Now it needs to find a way to balance the intermittency that creates.

In the process, the state hopes to create new energy storage leaders. “We’re trying to promote product developers, because we know that creates manufacturing opportunities,” said Pedrick. 

Invitation to submit concept papers

The funding announced in June came with an invitation to submit concept papers in July. NYSERDA will likely invite full proposals from a shortlist compiled this month.

The first wave of contracts should be in place “near the end of the year,” said Pedrick.

The selection criteria for developers include feasibility and innovation, economic benefits to the state, potential for wide-scale replicability, the strength of the project team and the cost-benefit ratio.

Pedrick also suggested NYSERDA would be looking for technologies that could be taken to market within a reasonably short time, such as five years.

“In the past, we have funded people that have made a membrane or an anode or a better cathode, but it takes a long time just to get that out of the laboratory,” he said. 

Integration of PV with storage

Given the focus on solar energy in New York State, it seems likely some of the concepts emerging from the NYSERDA programme could help with the integration of PV with storage.

Eligible technologies include innovations focusing on advanced analytics and controls, improved system integration, power electronics and digital testing.

And applications mentioned in the submission documents include peak demand reduction, integration with large-scale wind or solar PV for improved predictability, and distribution-level storage to avoid substation upgrades.

NYSERDA’s call for new energy storage technologies comes amid growing interest in coupling batteries with PV. Last month saw storage providers competing to provide increasingly low solar-plus-storage costs in the US.

ViZn Energy Systems, a zinc-iron flow battery maker, said it could deliver round-the-clock solar power for just $0.04 per kWh by pairing PV with storage.

Solar-plus-storage power-purchase agreement

NextEra Energy Resources, meanwhile, has already committed to deliver energy at $0.045 per kWh under a solar-plus-storage power-purchase agreement signed in May with Tucson Electric Power.

Taking advantage of energy storage will be a key theme item at New Energy Update’s 4th Annual PV O&M USA event, in San Jose, California, on November 2 and 3.

“This is a topic that has been bubbling up the PV operations and maintenance agenda for some time,” said Kerr Jeferies, New Energy Update projects director. “We’re expecting lively discussion around the options.”

  • Don’t miss out on the latest views on PV plus storage at New Energy Update’s 4th Annual PV O&M USA conference, in San Jose, California, on November 2 and 3. Download the brochure now. 

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