ORIGINAL REPORTING: Diversifying the Northeast power mix with offshore wind and storage
Diversifying the Northeast power mix: Is offshore wind + storage key to the region's reliability? As more New England states roll out offshore wind mandates, bringing the technology to scale is a portfolio priority.
Herman K. Trabish, July 2, 2019 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Both offshore wind and battery storage continue to attract investor interest that is driving prices down.
Offshore wind and battery storage are about to come into the Northeastern power mix in a big way. With more states requiring offshore wind targets, almost 18 GW are mandated to come online by 2035 in states across New England. But how that intermittent capacity will fit into an increasingly clean energy mix, how it will impact system reliability and whether the region's utilities are ready for more change, remains in question.
The answer, stakeholders told Utility Dive: It depends. "In the beginning, the objective was to produce low-cost renewable energy credits, regardless of production profile, location or intermittency, but penetrations are becoming too high for that," Navigant Director Lon Huber told Utility Dive. "Now, we need a diversity of resources and price signals to developers to shape their offerings to handle each region's specific idiosyncrasies."
As the Northeast power system evolves toward reliance on large scale renewables, storage, distributed energy resources (DER) and other load balancing strategies will be essential, say stakeholders. And offshore wind and storage may be a better answer for the reliability challenges of the Northeast's dark winters than solar-storage hybrid projects, but a diversity of resources will be essential.
"These technologies are not competitive, they are complementary, and will be part of a portfolio with demand response, load reduction programs and transmission for wind," Public Service Electric and Gas-Long Island (PSEG-LI) VP for Power Markets Paul Napoli told Utility Dive. "It is not about home runs. Each part of the portfolio has to get on base. That's how we win the game."
There is a need for a portfolio of zero emission resources that maintains high reliability, Huber said. Initially, over-procurement of renewables to protect against variability, with economic curtailment when necessary, may be the least cost solution. Hydropower and existing pumped storage can fill gaps, and "solar and newly added storage will be supplements," he said.
OSW "seems an obvious choice if there is transmission to deliver it into load pockets because, in the right offshore locations, it can help cover peak demand," Huber added. In the near term, if U.S. offshore wind proves to be low in cost and aligns with peak demand, "economic curtailment may be cheaper than storage." The right price signals will "mature" technologies for directly addressing peak demand and atypical extreme weather events, he said. An example is Massachusetts' Clean Peak Standard (CPS), a concept Huber created, that would compensate technologies for peak demand reductions and load shaping… click here for more
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