Much has been written on Solar Power Now about the promise of affordable solar plus storage solutions at the residential level. This is NOT one of those posts.
This one, on the other hand, is about how cost effective, battery-backed up solar is already becoming a reality at the utility scale.
While fracking has made natural gas super abundant, and the eventual cost leader in recent years, this is beginning to change. These two energy sources are on opposite cost trajectories; natural gas is eventually going up, while solar plus energy storage is falling in price.
2018 has seen a few projects being green-lit. The following are just a few examples:
- FPL, a subsidiary of NextEra, is already selling electricity from their 74.5 megawatt Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Florida. The system is backed up with 10 megawatts of battery storage.
- First Solar will build a 65 megawatt solar power plant that will be backed-up by a 50 megawatt energy storage system in Arizona.
- AES Distributed Energy will construct a 28 megawatt solar farm with a 20 megawatt battery system on Kauai, Hawaii. This system will produce electricity that only costs $0.11 per kilowatt-hour.
- EnSync Energy Systems is building a 750 kilowatt system with 500 kilowatts of energy storage in Oahu, Hawaii.
- Cypress Creek Renewables plans to construct 12 separate solar plus storage projects that will have a combined 12 megawatt-hour capacity in North Carolina.
These are only a few of the solar projects that are currently planned or finished that have energy storage systems.
The rationale is simple, there are quite a few locations in the United States where solar plus storage proposals are coming in at lower costs compared to natural gas or any other energy source and ultimately proving to be the winning bid.
One of the determining factors in favor of solar power systems coupled with energy storage is that it is easier for utilities to know exactly what their costs are going to be. This is not the case with natural gas. Prices may be cheap now, but they fluctuate. This volatility makes it an unwise investment over the long term. The sun, on the other hand, rises everyday like clockwork.
It will not be long before utilities across the country begin to invest heavily in major solar plus storage projects.