Navigant Research Blog

Energy Storage Access Issues for Low Income Customers

— June 1, 2017

The total cost of ownership of distributed battery energy storage systems (BESSs) has gone down significantly in the past several years. Given the anticipated continuance of this trend and the emergence of energy storage financing asset classes, Navigant Research expects the global market for residential Li-ion BESSs to reach $310.70 per kWh and commercial and industrial (C&I) Li-ion BESSs to reach $413.90 per kWh by 2026. The drivers behind the growth of this market will encourage the adoption of new technologies like rooftop solar PV + energy storage as well. However, the deployment of these technologies is often inaccessible to many low income customers who perhaps would benefit the greatest from the environmental and economic advantages of storage. Key barriers to the deployment of energy storage that low income households face include:

  • Lack of upfront capital resources
  • Limited appetite for tax credits
  • Poor housing conditions
  • Financing barriers

Energy Storage Providers Face Challenges in Serving Low Income Customers

The need and business case for low income customers for energy storage and other distributed energy resources (DER) is dependent on several factors (e.g., geographic location, housing type, regulatory structures, local electricity prices, and reliability needs). Historically, DER technology companies target suburban, middle- and upper-class customers partly because of favorable capital resource availability and financing credit scores. However, project developers are now focused on expanding their markets and are looking to develop the customer marketing and engagement strategies required to succeed in serving all their customers, particularly their low income contingent.

Community energy storage (CES) is an emerging new model for low income neighborhoods to overcome these hurdles while also lowering customer utility bills, reducing harmful emissions, and strengthening resilience in the face of potential grid disruptions. CES can meet customer needs and overcome barriers by:

  • Allowing co-ownership of energy storage assets through a utility-based customer subscription and cooperative financing structure, which shields project developers from the individual customer financial risks associated with typical project ownership.
  • Aggregating low income households across a diverse, regional customer base to enable larger, more cost-effective projects.
  • Providing subsidized loans, which gives low income customers the opportunity to prepay CES subscription costs at low interest rates.

Restrictions and Possibilities of CES

CES, like community solar, is an issue not only for low income customers, but also for those who do not own a house or have the correct building orientation (roof integrity, adequate room for battery, etc.). Both community solar and community storage vendors are working to educate building owners who rent to tenants to show the many benefits that having community assets could provide to its residents. Flexible ownership structures would help address the social justice of community solar and/or energy storage.

California’s proposed Senate Bill 700 (SB 700), known as the Energy Storage Initiative (ESI), is an example of how to properly incent the development of CES in low income markets. If passed, SB 700 would require the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to establish an ESI to pair with its support of distributed solar generation, effectively creating an incentive program for solar customers to add storage to their systems. Additionally, SB 700 would require up to 25% of the money utilities collect from this initiative to be applied to the deployment of ESSs in low income neighborhoods and housing, along with programs to encourage job training and employment opportunities in the local community. If the bill passes, current ESSs that are eligible for rebates under the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) would be transferred to the ESI program.

Overcoming Barriers to Provide More Affordable Clean Energy

Barriers to accessing affordable clean energy are rooted in broader systemic issues that low income customers face, like lack of quality housing, education, employment, and healthcare. Community ownership of renewable assets can serve as recurring and long-term sources of revenue for residents. Proactive innovation will help ensure that low income homeowners and renters are not isolated from renewable energy technologies and their benefits.

 

Three Innovative Energy Storage Projects Announced in 1Q 2017

— April 7, 2017

The energy storage industry is heating up in 2017 because of several new projects. Navigant Research’s Energy Storage Tracker 1Q17 report provides a comprehensive list of global energy storage projects and identifies new and emerging market leaders in the industry. This blog discusses some of the most notable new projects that show how these systems don’t necessarily provide just one type of service. Energy storage systems can come in several different flavors and provide multiple benefits.  

ENGIE Deutschland Kraftwerksgruppe Pfreimd Storage Plant

ENGIE Deutschland currently owns and operates a pumped hydro station in Kraftwerksgruppe Pfreimd, Germany, but the company sought to profit more effectively from the load leveling and peak shifting market. To do so, ENGIE awarded a contract to Siemens AG to install its SEISTORAGE Li-ion battery technology, power electronics, and battery management system. Rated at 12.5 MW and over 13 MWh, the battery system works in conjunction with existing pumped hydro resources and will enable the plant to provide all levels of reserve capacity—from short duration frequency regulation services to long duration bulk storage. ENGIE believes that this hybrid energy storage system illuminates the vision of its future energy storage business predicated on how to balance the volatility of renewable energy generation while providing multiple grid services. This project is set to come online in late 2017.

Vattenfall Wind Farm Battery Energy Storage System Installation

State-owned Swedish utility Vattenfall plans to install up to 1,000 Li-ion batteries to address the intermittency issues of several of its wind farms. The batteries, supplied by automaker BMW Group, are the same as the batteries used in the BMW i3 electric car, effectively providing an additional revenue stream for BMW’s existing business. Vattenfall plans to build the first a battery energy storage system (rated at 3.2 MW) at its Princess Alexia wind farm near Amsterdam. A larger 22 MW installation will be constructed at the company’s Pyn y Cymoedd wind farm in South Wales on a later date. This project is a part of National Grid’s Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender issued in 2016. 

E.ON Texas Waves Wind Farm Installation

Multinational energy company E.ON looks to become one of the premier industrial energy storage businesses in the world. E.ON recently announced it will colocate short duration energy storage systems at its Pyron and Inadale wind farms in the western part of Texas. Dubbed Texas Waves, the project will collectively utilize 18.8 MW of Li-ion battery technology from Samsung SDI. The system will provide multiple ancillary services to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas market, namely wind ramping and smoothing, load leveling, and Volt/VAR support. Energy storage software provider Greensmith will provide the battery management system to each of the installations to help ensure the stacked revenue streams of the system.

The Improving Landscape of Energy Storage

Storage is shifting to become an essential component of new energy systems to ensure projects can reach maximum profitability. To match this growing popularity, companies like Tesla and Alevo are expanding internal resources to ensure they have the best and brightest minds to capitalize on new technology and opportunity in the market. Overall, the global energy storage industry is poised to continue growing quickly over the next several years. Energy storage industry stakeholders should explore new and seemingly unconventional methods to become involved in new projects. Doing so could help develop untapped markets, create new technology, and spur innovation in the industry for years to come.

 

Can Virtual Marketplaces Unlock the Potential of Distributed Energy Resources?

— March 28, 2017

In previous posts, I have explored innovative business models that aim to maximize the value of solar plus energy storage systems in Australia. The country has quickly become a leading market for these technologies—as well as the advanced business models and platforms necessary to unlock their full potential.

Navigant Research tracks the rapidly growing Australian market through its new Energy Storage Projects Data Service, which provides unique insights into the dynamics of markets around the world. As shown below, the majority of storage systems in Australia are being used to integrate new solar projects and maximize their value for both customers and the grid.

While the Australian market for both solar and energy storage has grown exponentially in recent years, these technologies will only be an economical investment for select customers given current business models and regulations. A new program being launched by software provider GreenSync hopes to change this situation by opening new opportunities for customers to benefit from its distributed energy resources (DER).

Navigant Research Data Services

(Source: Navigant Research)

Making Connections

GreenSync’s software-based marketplace, known as the Decentralized Energy Exchange (deX), aims to provide an avenue for distributed solar PV and energy storage system owners to trade their system’s services with local network operators in exchange for payments. Initially, the primary goal of the exchange will be to help operators manage both peak demand and variable solar generation on the grid. The opening launch of the marketplace will focus on trials with two utilities. ActewAGL, in Australia’s Capital Territory, hopes to understand how market-integrated batteries can alleviate constraints in certain parts of the grid, particularly those struggling to handle high levels of solar PV. United Energy in the Melbourne area is piloting the deX marketplace to reduce grid congestion where summer peak demand is straining existing infrastructure.

These utilities join a number of others in Australia that are working to understand how networks of DER can be utilized to provide services for grid operators in addition to the customers who own them. Utilities like AGL Energy, SA Power Networks, and Ergon Energy are working with various vendors to maximize the value inherent in energy storage systems and other flexible DER to improve the efficiency of the grid while allowing for greater amounts of solar PV to be added by customers.

Coordination Is Key

For DER providers to reach the most customers and realize the full potential of their technologies, these types of virtual aggregation platforms will be essential. Without proper coordination, the growing number of DER on the grid can result in significant systemwide inefficiencies, and their benefits may only be accessible to select electricity customers. Collaboration and coordination among DER stakeholders on the grid are key themes explored in Navigant Research’s recent white paper, Navigating the Energy Transformation.

The ability to effectively aggregate and coordinate distributed systems will be crucial for both utilities and vendors to capitalize on all the values these systems can provide. Vendors with a narrow focus on only providing cost savings and backup power for customers will significantly limit their addressable market, as their solutions may be too costly for many customers. They also risk missing out on the opportunity to play a foundational role in the development of the next-generation transactive energy system that will transform the industry.

 

China Exploring New Avenues for Energy Storage in 2017

— February 8, 2017

BatteriesLooking back on 2016, the energy storage industry in China has had its positives and its negatives. Navigant Research believes that energy storage increasingly is valued based on the services that a system provides. Overall, China is an attractive market for energy storage, particularly lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. Market activity in 2016 included increased sales of EVs throughout the country, electricity market reforms to spur grid-tied storage resources, and a multimillion-dollar increase in investment of national battery companies. The country is embracing a cleaner, more connected future going into 2017.

Electric Vehicles

Long projected to be the largest global EV producer and market (despite reports of inflated plug-in EV sales figures being used to garner government subsidies), policies that promote the development of alternative fuel vehicles drive EV sales in China. The central government began giving out subsidies for EVs in 2013, and the value of subsidies has decreased annually since then. The 2016-2020 Notice on the Financial Support Policy for the Promotion of New Energy Vehicles from the country’s Ministry of Finance announced that, compared to the 2016 level of subsidy, the 2017-2018 level and the 2019-2020 level will be reduced by 20% and 40%, respectively. In addition to the subsidy, the central government has also waived the vehicle sales tax. Additional subsidies in China can be found predominantly at city governments. For example, Beijing and Shenzhen allow a 1:1 matching subsidy for consumers, effectively doubling the national EV purchase subsidy.

On the grid-tied storage front, Navigant Research anticipates that China will be the single largest country market for energy storage, reaching 5.5 GW of new capacity by 2025 across the utility-scale market alone. Though the country’s electricity market has long been government-run, recent market reforms have allowed non-state wholesale power producers to enter the market, opening up opportunities for independent power producers (IPPs) to provide ancillary services by way of energy storage resources. Compounded with the big push for new variable generation resources within China, storage greatly improves the business case for renewables by eliminating the need for new transmission and distribution resources.

Battery Manufacturers

Large battery manufacturers headquartered in China (such as BYD, CATL, Lishen, and Wanxiang A123) have deployed several systems in various EVs and stationary storage installations; these companies introduced several rounds of investment plans to further develop their respective technologies. In April 2016, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that any EVs applying for the Chinese government subsidy had to utilize a battery manufactured by a Chinese-owned company listed on the ministry’s so-called White List, effectively eliminating competition from other large global manufacturers like Panasonic and LG Chem. Chinese battery companies are also targeting other applications in foreign markets. For example, Neovoltaic, GCL Integrated Storage, and Pylontech have launched residential solar plus storage solutions ranging from 2.5 kWh to 8 kWh for residential customers in Australian, German, and American markets. Several other Chinese Li-ion battery providers are looking to establish partnerships with other systems integrators to further expand into other attractive storage markets.

The battery energy storage industry in China goes where the government steers it. Though the effect of policy and demand-side incentives varies by territory, the country seems to have a clear plan on what role storage will play in its clean energy future. As the industry matures, customer needs and grid needs will evolve and allow for EVs and energy storage systems to penetrate new markets. It remains to be seen whether China’s aggressive clean energy adoption strategy will be successful in the long term.

 

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