77 ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | OCT. 14 | WWW.ECMAG.COM
in smoothing that power out and delivering it more efficiently
and on demand.”
Traditionally, utilities have been managing peaks through
demand response. If ramping up power to meet peak is an issue,
storage could help.
“Collecting solar energy during the day and storing it for use
when a utility’s peak power hits at dusk or evening becomes a
better way to manage solar power,” Gibson said.
“I definitely see clean energy as a driver that will enable
energy storage to take off,” Roberts said.
The measure of storage remains a question.
“Would it be best served through smarter power inverters,
power controls—perhaps syncing solar with the right amount
of storage?” Gibson said. “These are important questions being
explored through [research and development] and demonstra-
tion projects across the country.”
Gibson sees the storage industry today where solar was
eight years ago.
“Today, solar is on a strong path,” he said. “Solar hard costs
have come down, and we are seeing soft costs and the over-
all building and planning costs come down. Installations can
now take days instead of weeks or months because of advanced
interconnectivity. I see storage on a similar trajectory of market
readiness and acceptance that solar has enjoyed. Right now, it’s
a big add for grid management, but investment is very steep.
The first tangible market is frequency regulation.”
Movement on a few fronts
If you want to look at renewable-energy storage in action, look
to Arizona, California, Hawaii and New Mexico. These states
are harnessing this power duo in a big way.
The PNM Prosperity Energy Storage Project is the nation’s
first solar-storage facility to be fully integrated into a utility
power grid. PNM is the largest electricity provider in New
Mexico. The facility uses smart-grid technology and features
one of the largest combinations of battery storage and photovol-
taic (PV) energy in the nation. The site uses 2,158 solar panels
to produce up to 500 kilowatts (k W) of power. Eight battery
containers hold 160 batteries each, for a total of 1,280 advanced
lead-acid batteries that can store up to 250 k W per megawatt-
hour of energy.
Arizona Public Service is tied into the Solana project, in
which solar energy is captured through parabolic mirrors
but doesn’t use battery storage. The captured heat is carried
through pipes to huge tanks of molten salt. In the evening or
early morning, heat is drawn back out of the molten salt to make
steam and generate electricity. Its capacity is about six hours,
with the ability to produce up to 280 megawatts (MW) (see
page 28 more on Solana).
In what could be a game changer for the energy-storage
market, under mandate by the California Public Utilities Com-
mission (PUC), the state’s investor-owned utilities must acquire
1,325 MW of energy storage resources by 2020, starting with
“Collecting solar energy during the day
and storing it for use when a utility’s peak
power hits at dusk or evening becomes a
better way to manage solar power.”
—Bob Gibson, Solar Electric Power Association
energy, which is
stored in unique
units at Abengoa’s
280-MW Solana solar
project, conducted in
partnership with Arizona
A 6-MW Port Allen solar and energy-storage project in Kauai, Hawaii