NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: Resilience Is The New Black

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    Wednesday, August 22, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Resilience Is The New Black

    How solar owners' post-hurricane demand for batteries could impact utilities; As more customers see solar-plus-storage as resilience boosters, utilities could see less revenues

    Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 15, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: As extreme weather events continue to dominate the headlines, resilience continues to grow as a focus for electricity users and their utilities.

    As Hurricane Irma receded last September, thousands of Floridians sheltered in 115 well-lit schools, drinking hot coffee and communicating with the world through cell phones charged by solar-plus-storage systems. Funded by a $9.8 million 2009 Recovery Act grant, the solar-plus-storage systems powered the schools despite the overcast weather, while 6.7 million utility customers had no electricity. Like last year’s hurricanes in Houston, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Irma made vivid the value of shelter from the storm.

    Those and other recent natural disasters, have driven “significant” investment in energy storage, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) Electricity Practice Principal Mark Dyson told Utility Dive. This has obvious implications for the solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery industries. But its importance to utilities is no less significant because responding wisely could benefit them and not responding wisely could cost them. As it becomes unavoidably clear that an extreme weather-driven emergency can hit anywhere, the pace of adoption of solar-plus-storage will accelerate, he added. Recognizing this, utilities from Vermont to Hawaii are looking into the technology and economics of grid-scale and customer-owned storage.

    This way of looking at solar-plus-storage systems could be a game changer in the marketplace, according to a new paper from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Clean Energy Group. “Valuing resilience can make PV and energy storage systems economical in cases when they would not be otherwise,” it reports. Where adding storage is already cost-effective, “valuing resiliency can increase the size of the cost-optimal PV and storage system.” The resilience value of solar-plus-storage is important to utilities because it “could lead to an acceleration of load defection,” Dyson said. But smart utilities could take advantage of customer investments in storage and other emerging smart products and services, Dyson added. Forthcoming RMI research shows these customer-owned technologies could help utilities reduce their peak demand burden as much as 25%... click here for more

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