ORIGINAL REPORTING: Hybrid Boom Raises Regulatory Challenges
84 GW US renewables+storage pipeline has developers anxious for market integration rules; Regulators uncertain of the best way to address hybrid complexity prepare to take it on
Herman K. Trabish | April 23, 2020 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Developer interest in hybrids is accelerating, especially solar plus storage.
Co-locating battery storage with renewables could transform the power system, and a rush by utilities and developers to build "hybrids" has prompted federal regulators to respond.
The U.S. boom in such projects has put over three times more hybrid capacity into development than the 4.6 GW now online and twelve times more in the pipeline, according to a new paper in Electricity Journal. But wind, solar, and battery storage developers are anxiously waiting for overdue regulatory decisions that could bring hybrids into wholesale markets.
"Renewable hybrids’ disruptive ability to provide low cost dispatchable clean energy make them the closest thing to a perfect resource we've ever thought of," Aaron Bloom, System Planning Group Chair for power system consulting consortium Energy Systems Integration Group (ESIG), told Utility Dive. But regulators "seem to be applying traditional optimization rules to these new technologies and that might not be the best approach."
Federal and regional regulators’ delayed decisions on the complexities of integrating and compensating paired technologies have not prevented the boom, the Electricity Journal paper showed. Utilities see hybrids as better than standalone storage to meet policy goals and developers see money on the table, they told Utility Dive. At advocates' urging, FERC has called a technical conference for July to address questions about hybrids' value.
Utility Dive in 2018 and 2019 found few utility-scale hybrid projects operating in the U.S. market. "It's like the storm is brewing" but "hasn't coalesced yet," InterTran Energy Consulting Founding Principal Rhonda Peters told Utility Dive in 2019. It appears the storm has broken.
There are 61 renewables projects, at least 1 MW or higher, "co-located with batteries online in the U.S., representing 4.6 GW of capacity, the paper reports. There are also 88 projects, representing 14.7 GW, "in the immediate development pipeline" and "69 GW in the seven main U.S. market interconnection queues." The "critical question" is whether the "conventional wisdom" in the power sector that storage and generation should each be optimally and independently sited is still true… click here for more