On June 24, SunEdison, a leading solar panel manufacturer, project developer, and residential leasing provider, announced that it had joined forces with Green Charge Networks to deliver a solar plus energy storage system (ESS) to the municipal utility Silicon Valley Power. Green Charge, the largest provider of commercial energy storage in the United States, will work with SunEdison to install the ESS in the Tasman Drive parking structure next to the San Francisco 49ers new football stadium. The ESS will be added to the solar modules that were installed at the end of 2014.
In California, commercial customers have to pay for the total electricity consumed and for the load consumed at any time. The Tasman Drive parking structure’s solar array has allowed Silicon Valley Power to reduce its electricity consumption by 1.18 GWh, reducing its energy-related part of the bill. However, the utility has been less successful in trimming costs on the demand side of the bill due to the difference in the solar irradiation daily pattern and peak load of the utility. Silicon Valley Power hopes that the system will allow it to reduce both of these costs by time-shifting the electricity produced by the solar array to times when the utility’s load is peaking, therefore reducing peak load costs.
Pros and Cons
Current regulatory frameworks around the world are based on feed-in tariffs and net-metering, and the tariff structures used for small and medium electricity consumers (residential and some commercial users) play against systems like this. In addition, the cost of an ESS is still relatively high compared to the equivalent service provided by the grid.
But, as solar economic incentives are reduced and new tariff structures that take into account the grid-associated costs are set into place, Navigant Research expects that solar plus ESSs will become commonplace. This is projected as both solar and ESS costs are expected to fall significantly in the next few years. These topics will be covered in Navigant Research’s forthcoming report, Distributed Solar Energy Generation.