Green Mountain Power turning to solar plus storage to manage costs during peak demand
- February 5, 2019
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Vermont is often at the forefront of transforming its electric power sector, whether that's as a nation leader in renewable energy, being home to the first U.S. city that's run entirely on renewable sources, or installing clean tech solutions on the nations agricultural land.
This focus on forward-thinking energy solutions is why I wasn't surprised to come across this story on a Vermont utility that was investing in solar panels and battery storage on a utility-scale to assist in smoothing out the strain on generation services during peak demand.
This project, which is the first of three that was approved by state energy regulators, will bring 4.5 MW of solar panels and a 2 MW battery online-- which will total 14.4 MW and 6 MW, respectively, by the completion of the third project. In full, this system would be capable of providing 24 MWh of energy over a 4 hour period of peak demand after having been charged during the day-- times of peak solar collection but lower demand from the grid. By shifting this 24 MWh of demand during early evening hours to be generated during early afternoon, such a solar plus storage project provides a layer of security over excess demand and ideally prevents the need to build out an additional amount of baseload generation to achieve the same goal.
Just 24 MWh over 4 hours, it's true, may be marginal in the grand scheme. But Vermont's history suggest that this project will simply be the first of many like it when it's found successful. And the numbers look good:
- The solar system is expected to produce 8,000 MWh of renewable electricity per year
- The power purchase agreement is good for 25 years
- The complete project will cost $14.3 million, but will be able to deliver electrical output during peak demand at a desirable cost of 8 cents per kWh
Beyond that, Green Mountain Power touted the tangible benefits to customers:
Energy storage and discharge during targeted peak load can save customers money on transmission and capacity. Other benefits include frequency regulation services to earn revenue for customers when the batteries are not dispatching energy to the grid, providing opportunities for energy arbitrage in times of high prices, and possible “islanding” capability....Serious climatic events and changing weather patterns make improvements to system reliability and resiliency for customers even more important.
Do you buy into these type of energy management solutions? Have they succeeded or failed in other areas that might foreshadow how this program will go? What is your organization doing in the solar + storage place? Let's discuss and connect about it in the comments below!