11 July 2015


Storage: how will batteries help New York’s solar boom?

Author: Jason Deign, Solarplaza



Last year the state’s leading utility, Consolidated Edison (ConEd), and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced measures to promote energy storage in the run-up to the closure of a final reactor at the Indian Point nuclear plant.

The Indian Point Energy Center, owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast , produces about 20% of New York City’s base load power. But its Federal operating license expires in December this year, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is not keen on an extension.

Instead, he is pushing ahead with one of the most ambitious solar development plans in the US. Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative , launched in 2012 with a budget of almost USD$1 billion, aims to see 3 GW of solar capacity installed across the state by 2023.  

The programme has led to a boom in solar at all levels.

Recent weeks alone have seen SunEdison signing contracts for 14 MW of capacity in Long Island, GE starting construction of a 2 MW ground-mounted installation in Orange County and New York food carts swapping diesel for solar .

The carts are moving to a mix of solar and batteries, and that could be the case for many other installations in the state as plans to deal with the Indian Point shutdown kick in.

One of the key measures in the plan is a demand management programme that provides incentives of up to $2,100 per kilowatt for battery storage projects completed before June 2016, along with penalties for large power consumers that exceed a given threshold of usage. 

Demand charges already led commercial and industrial-scale energy users to adopt battery storage. In March, for example, the luxury property developer Glenwood announced plans to integrated 1 MW of storage into its real estate portfolio.

Glenwood gets a double benefit from the initiative, because it is not only able to avoid demand charges but is also assured of battery-based backup power in the event of a blackout.

Energy storage is an ideal solution that helps ConEd and NYSERDA solve real and pressing problems in managing the grid, while simultaneously elevating the quality of life at our properties ,” said Glenwood’s vice president of management, Josh London , in a press release .

Now storage developer Demand Energy believes commercial and industrial users could go one step further and use solar energy stored in batteries in the morning to deliver power during the afternoon-evening peak demand period.

Commercial and industrial users account for 10% of utility customers but between 40% and 60% of the load on the grid, says Demand Energy . Plus the companies involved have ample rooftop and parking lot space that could be used for solar installations.

"The unique dynamics of the New York State market means there is a very strong opportunity for battery storage to work alongside distributed solar generation ,” said Doug Staker , Demand Energy’s vice president of global sales.

Our customers are already using batteries to reduce demand charges, and if the power for this comes from integrated solar then the economic case would be even stronger ."

Other energy storage developers agree with this assessment.

Ron Van Dell , president and chief executive of the flow battery developer ViZn Energy , said: “New York State is positioned to become a leader in distributed energy storage because of the dense population, but also because of events like Superstorm Sandy . "

The task to control and monetise the many benefits of storage is a challenge that companies like ViZn are aggressively addressing .”

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