UGE Speaks On Solar + Storage at Intersolar Summit USA East
New York-based companies, like UGE, did not have to travel far to attend last week’s Intersolar USA East Summit. The annual, regional solar conference was once again held in Brooklyn this year, as a nod to New York state’s efforts to implement a sweeping change to the utility system through the Reforming the Energy Vision policy. Brooklyn-based State Senator Kevin Parker opened the event, jokingly dubbing it “Intersolar Brooklyn,” while sharing his excitement for New York to lead the region in its commitment to job-creating solar development.
While New York’s progressive policies seemed to take the spotlight, the morning’s sessions also included a summary of other regional initiatives:
- Despite a ramp down of the renewable portfolio standards (RPS), New Jersey’s State Senate recently passed the RETA Bill, which if approved by the governor, mandates a transition to 80% renewable energy by 2050.
- In Connecticut, the Zero Renewable Energy Credit program still has another two years left, with the Year Four program still somewhat undersubscribed.
- For Massachusetts, the discussion centered on Net Metering 2.0 and where the policy should head after the initial cap was reached last year.
Solar + Storage is Sweet Lemonade.
For the afternoon, the conversation shifted towards what will be future of the industry: implementing solar plus storage, and how to finance these systems. While offering his insights into recent developments, Ravi Manghani of GTM Research quipped that if using solar is making lemonade out of lemons, then storage is “adding sugar to make that lemonade even sweeter.” While globally the market is growing, the U.S. in particular is poised for impressive growth, as the recent ITC extension will generate an estimated 33% increase in storage paired with renewables for an additional 0.5 GW of capacity by 2020.
Our own Tim Woodcock talked to the audience about the challenges of and opportunities for boosting storage development. In his presentation, Tim discussed how:
- The relationship of utilities and developers is changing. Storage now offers a unique opportunity to blend front-of-the-meter and behind-the- meter applications to create value for players throughout the system.
- -Stacking creates economic value. Optimizing the battery for use in multiple applications is the best way to allow both the grid and the customerto benefit, while guaranteeing greater returns on the customer’s investment.
- We need an “ESAPC” or similar storage working group. To speed the deployment of storage, in the same way NREL’s SAPC working group helped scaled solar, the industry needs to convene a “storage working group.” By navigating the current certifications and creating a standard contract, we can help financiers become more comfortable with investing in the rapidly evolving technologies.
Though storage is already undergoing a rapid upturn in the United States, growing 3.5x on both sides of the meter during 2015 (GTM Research), there’s still a long way to go. Intersolar served to remind attendees that the speed and ease of installations will ultimately drive down project costs, since energy that is easily dispatchable will always have value.
In his remarks, Minh Le of the U.S. Department of Energy recalled that in 1882, Thomas Edison designed the monodirectional grid with the first central utility based in Manhattan. Today, in New York as elsewhere, energy storage is essential to drive the revolution towards a smart, multi-directional energy system.