Our big takeaway from SEIA’s latest Grid Modernization report: Utilities need to step up

electrical grid modernization

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) continues its in-depth look at state-level efforts to modernize the electric utility grid with the fourth paper in the series, Getting More Granular: How Value of Location and Time May Change Compensation for Distributed Energy Resources. The focus in this one is ways in which utilities can more effectively operate on the grid.

“When states develop fair compensation mechanisms for distributed energy resources (DER), the result is a modern electric grid that better serves the needs of all its customers,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “The case studies highlighted in our report can serve as a model for other states interested in grid modernization and the economic benefits that result.”

We recommend reading the whole thing, which you can access here: SEIA-GridMod-Series-4_2018-Jan-Final_0

Our two cents per kW

Our big takeaway is just how imperative it is for utilities to be more transparent with their data, forecasts and calculations. We need to get more voices in the room to offer solutions. What locations in an area need which specific upgrades? For what time of year? For what time of day?

We all already know utility transparency is an issue (improved so much through UtilityAPI), but when the possibilities for grid modernization are laid out as SEIA has done in this series, the lack of transparency seems more inexcusable than ever.

Our favorite concept from the report, as an example:

Locational value can be used to guide resources to high value locations. Utilities can create, and should publish maps showing the specific locations of any needs on the distribution system, the specific grid constraints to avoid the need (e.g., high loads during hot late summer afternoons), and the value of the avoidance in terms of dollars per amount of capacity. If a developer knows in advance that there will be a utility solicitation for the identified needs, it can begin seeking customers or project sites in anticipation of the opportunity to bid in its projects.

The report continues in that section to lay out a basis for compensation:

In addition to competitive utility solicitations, there are alternative means of providing targeted tariffs, programs or incentives to drive DER to locations to meet identified needs. If identified needs are too small or have too short of a lead time to be met through a competitive solicitation, the utility could have a tariff- or program-based mechanism that can step in on short notice.

For example, voltage issues are often very isolated and managed with small utility investments. However, smart inverters are increasingly being deployed widely and can be used to provide voltage management services in the locations where a utility has challenges managing voltage within an acceptable range.

In addition, tariffs enable customers of all stripes to adopt solar and other DER, which delivers the generalized grid benefits we discuss, but also ensures that a state’s clean energy market grows equitably in a manner that distributes the social, environmental, and economic benefits to all ratepayers. This is an emerging topic and it is expected that California’s Integrated Distributed Energy Resources proceeding will explore non-solicitation based sourcing mechanisms.

So, there needs to be more transparency for developers and engineers to jump in and propose solutions, but there also needs to be more general transparency for the public to better understand how electricity gets to their house, what exactly it costs, and what alternatives could look like. Each small decision is super complicated, but zooming back out and considering the broad strokes from the point of view of an actual home owner would be revealing. Jamal Homeowner, an outside observer, is plainly presented with plain insight into how exactly the grid functions and what the utility business model is, and also presented alternative plans for what it could be. Remember, this whole monopoly exists in his best interest, allegedly. What would he think?

Well, I can’t speak for Jamal, but I can’t help but be confused. Why we aren’t doing this already? How is what SEIA lays out in this report not the expectation? If you started the grid from scratch in 2018, knowing what we know, and with the technology we have, there is just no way you’d arrive at the current arrangement and business model. Having utilities prioritize DER with the same long-term, capital intensive strategizing that they apply to their current approach, could be the most impactful U.S. innovation this century.

Anyway, there is a ton more in that report and the series overall. Be sure to check it out.

— Solar Builder magazine

JLM Energy is going with Ideal Power for power converters in 750-kW purchase order

JLM Energy Phazr MicroStorage

JLM Energy’s Phazr MicroStorage mounts easily on solar racking and plugs into the microinverter and solar panel with MC4 connectors, virtually eliminating design and installation costs. Phazr comes in 7 sizes to pair directly with the solar panel wattage. Two Phazr’s can go behind each panel for up to 5 hours energy storage. Phazr has no single point of failure and provides the lowest total cost of ownership for energy storage on the market today. Works for Residential & Commercial applications. (PRNewsfoto/JLM Energy)

JLM Energy is big into commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage systems for ‘behind the meter’ peak shaving solutions in the California market. The company just announced it will be incorporating Ideal Power Inc‘s 30-kW Stabiliti power conversion technology as part of a $750,000 purchase order.

The latest JLM purchase order is for 25 30-kW dual-port Stabiliti series power conversion systems, to primarily provide ‘behind the meter’ peak shaving solutions to California manufacturing and industrial companies. The units are currently scheduled for delivery in March 2018.

JLM Energy’s primary customers are companies that operate printing, food processing, metal fabrication and finishing, plastic and foil converting and coating businesses where manufacturing equipment and processes often require large surges in electrical power. JLM’s Gridz commercial energy storage systems effectively provide the necessary peak surges without drawing electricity demand from the grid and electric utility, reducing electrical demand charges and utility expenses considerably.

JLM Energy’s solar+storage now automated with Hawaii tariff data to manage usage

“The supply partnership with Ideal Power expands fulfillment capacity and improves support of a growing fleet of JLM’s commercial energy management and microgrid systems, including our Gridz and Measurz offerings,” said Bob Montano, vice president of operations for JLM Energy. “We’re a technology-driven, customer focused com-pany, and we’re excited to continue working with Ideal Power to optimize energy use and maximize savings through safe and reliable solutions for our customers.”

“We are thrilled to provide JLM Energy with our latest power conversion technology to enable cost effective, flexible and efficient systems,” said Ideal Power CEO Dan Brdar. “We’re confident that Ideal Power’s UL 1741 SA certified 30 kW Stabiliti series products can help serve JLM’s pipeline of commercial storage projects.”

— Solar Builder magazine

JLM Energy is going with Ideal Power for power converters in 750-kW purchase order

JLM Energy Phazr MicroStorage

JLM Energy’s Phazr MicroStorage mounts easily on solar racking and plugs into the microinverter and solar panel with MC4 connectors, virtually eliminating design and installation costs. Phazr comes in 7 sizes to pair directly with the solar panel wattage. Two Phazr’s can go behind each panel for up to 5 hours energy storage. Phazr has no single point of failure and provides the lowest total cost of ownership for energy storage on the market today. Works for Residential & Commercial applications. (PRNewsfoto/JLM Energy)

JLM Energy is big into commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage systems for ‘behind the meter’ peak shaving solutions in the California market. The company just announced it will be incorporating Ideal Power Inc‘s 30-kW Stabiliti power conversion technology as part of a $750,000 purchase order.

The latest JLM purchase order is for 25 30-kW dual-port Stabiliti series power conversion systems, to primarily provide ‘behind the meter’ peak shaving solutions to California manufacturing and industrial companies. The units are currently scheduled for delivery in March 2018.

JLM Energy’s primary customers are companies that operate printing, food processing, metal fabrication and finishing, plastic and foil converting and coating businesses where manufacturing equipment and processes often require large surges in electrical power. JLM’s Gridz commercial energy storage systems effectively provide the necessary peak surges without drawing electricity demand from the grid and electric utility, reducing electrical demand charges and utility expenses considerably.

JLM Energy’s solar+storage now automated with Hawaii tariff data to manage usage

“The supply partnership with Ideal Power expands fulfillment capacity and improves support of a growing fleet of JLM’s commercial energy management and microgrid systems, including our Gridz and Measurz offerings,” said Bob Montano, vice president of operations for JLM Energy. “We’re a technology-driven, customer focused com-pany, and we’re excited to continue working with Ideal Power to optimize energy use and maximize savings through safe and reliable solutions for our customers.”

“We are thrilled to provide JLM Energy with our latest power conversion technology to enable cost effective, flexible and efficient systems,” said Ideal Power CEO Dan Brdar. “We’re confident that Ideal Power’s UL 1741 SA certified 30 kW Stabiliti series products can help serve JLM’s pipeline of commercial storage projects.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar + storage microgrid being built on Kwajalein Atoll by Hannah Solar Government Services

Hannah solar install

Energy Service Provider, Johnson Controls Federal Systems has awarded Hannah Solar Government Services (HSGS) a contract to design, engineer, and construct the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system and micro grid controlled battery storage system on Meck Island, Kwajalein Atoll for the United States Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll.

Part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is located west of the International Date Line. Kwajalein Atoll is made up of approximately 97 islands, eleven of which are leased by the United States Government. Meck Island is one of the eleven islands of Kwajalein Atoll leased by the U.S. Government and is a U.S. Army installation that contains the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site (RTS).

Near the RTS on Meck Island, HSGS will construct a 2.3 Megawatt (MW) ballasted, ground mounted solar PV system, consisting of more than 8,000 solar modules along with a 3MWh energy storage system. A micro grid system will control the power produced and storage for this energy system. HSGS will begin the installation of this solar PV system and energy storage system in the summer of 2018.

2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year Winners

Johnson Controls Federal Systems currently serves the U.S. Army under an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC), which is designed to finance energy conservation measures with returns generated by energy savings over time. Johnson Controls Federal Systems was confident in their selection of HSGS to perform the engineering and construction work for this project because, of HSGS’s quality past performance installing multiple solar PV systems, totaling 1.2 megawatts (MW) at Ft. Allen located in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, under their ESPC for the U.S. Army National Guard.

HSGS is a veteran-owned business specializing in the design, installation and maintenance of solar PV systems, battery energy systems and microgrids. Serving the government, commercial/industrial, and utility marketplaces, HSGS’s breadth of experience includes projects that span the continental United States as well as overseas.

— Solar Builder magazine

Sungrow launches 3-MW, 1,500-volt turnkey station, inverter series at World Future Energy Summit

Sungrow-booth-at-WFES-2018

Sungrow booth at WFES 2018 (PRNewsfoto/SUNGROW Power Supply Co., Ltd)

Sungrow, a global inverter solution supplier for renewables, launched the SG3125HV, the company’s latest 3.125 MW 1500 Vdc turnkey station, along with its string inverter series, at the World Future Energy Summit, the most visited event for renewable energy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from January 15-18.

The SG3125HV containerized solution integrates PV inverter power conversion together with block monitoring, an auxiliary power supply, and Night Static Var Generator (SVG) functionality in a standard 10-foot container, meaning significant savings in initial investment and future operating costs. Thanks to the 3-level topology and smart cooling design, it reaches a peak efficiency of 99% and can work without derating at 50℃; in the MENA region, having sustained power yield for PV plants in the scorching heat is essential for good project economics. Developed for large-scale utility plants, the product also features a high DC/AC ratio of 1.5 and flexible 6.25MW or 12.5MW block design.

What you need to know about 1500-volt inverters

Also on show are the SG125HV, the world’s most powerful 1500 Vdc string inverter rat-ed at 125kW, and SG36KTL-M, a first choice string inverter for rooftop projects.

“Known for its rich solar resources, the Middle East and North Africa area has seen growing demands for solar power in recent years. We are delighted to develop products that are in accordance with this trend, and also, we are determined to set up a complete and localized sales and service network to better benefit our customers,” said Professor Renxian Cao, President of Sungrow.

— Solar Builder magazine