Florida mulls bill to advance more solar plus storage, improve grid resiliency

Florida solar storage bill

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Vote Solar are supporting HB 1133, filed in the Florida Legislature this week, that would demonstrate solar and energy storage’s ability to maintain grid resilience during natural disasters and states of emergency.

The bill establishes a pilot program in the Florida Keys to install on-site solar generation and energy storage to provide electricity to critical facilities during grid outages or failures, like the recent Hurricane Irma.

“As we’ve recently experienced first-hand with Hurricane Irma, there’s nothing more crucial in the wake of a disaster than power. Onsite solar energy storage systems are a forward-thinking solution to improving the security of energy supply at critical local facilities,” said Florida State Representative Holly Raschein, who is HB 1133’s main sponsor. “Given that Florida is the Sunshine State, it only makes sense to tap into this resource when planning for stronger communities that are more resilient in recovering from a disaster.”

The pilot program will measure the benefits of resilience assistance to support the energy needs of critical facilities, such as emergency shelters, hospitals and health facilities, airports, and emergency response units, like police and fire departments. Solar and energy storage can immediately offset these facilities’ power needs, provide backup energy during a grid outage, and store energy isolated from the utility’s electrical system for emergencies. They also eliminate the need for back-up diesel generators.

“This is a crucial step in preparing Florida for future emergencies and we thank Rep. Holly Raschein for her leadership,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Making sure our first responders and critical facilities have the power they need to deliver life-saving services during emergencies should be a top priority for any state, and solar plus storage is the easiest and most effective solution. This pilot program will demonstrate the effectiveness of solar and storage in maintaining grid resilience and help lawmakers implement this strategy on a larger scale.”

“Solar energy is already becoming a huge success story in Florida, and the excitement around new battery technology has been growing since it proved itself in the days after Irma, keeping lights and refrigerators on for families when the power grid was down for days,” said Scott Thomasson, Southeast Director of Vote Solar. “Scaling solar and energy storage as a strategic backup resource during disasters could have a real impact on people’s lives and security.”

The solar industry urges the Florida Legislature to pass this bill, implementing the pilot programs and corresponding Florida Solar Energy Center study measuring the benefits of the program.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solect Energy launches commercial energy storage division

NEC Storage systems

Solect Energy, one of Massachusetts’ top commercial-scale solar developers with over 400 installed projects, is now launching an energy storage division. In launching the new division, Solect has signed an agreement with NEC Energy Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, to sell NEC’s DSS (Distributed Storage Solution) product line for commercial customers. NEC is one of the world’s leading energy storage solutions providers with more than 250 MW (megawatts) of projects installed or currently under construction.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our collaboration with NEC and the opportunity to bring tremendous additional value to both our existing and new customers,” said Ken Driscoll, CEO of Solect Energy. “We are at the doorstep of the energy storage boom and Solect is extremely well positioned to bring these new solutions to our commercial customers, saving them money and building resiliency.”

Since Massachusetts has some of the highest demand charges in the US, accounting for up to 70% of a commercial customer’s electricity bill, both Solect and NEC anticipate that Massachusetts will be one of the next major markets to see commercial-scale energy storage rapidly grow the way it has in California. Demand charges are based on a customer’s monthly peak load and, according to Solect’s market analysis, up to 70,000 commercial customers in Massachusetts currently pay high enough rates to economically justify installing a storage system to even out their energy load profile and lower their demand charges. When paired with solar, the economics are even better due to tax advantages and other ways to monetize the benefits of both systems working together.

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“As Massachusetts’ leading commercial-scale solar energy provider, we are delighted to be working with Solect as a Qualified DSS Partner. There’s no doubt they are well positioned to become one of the leaders in the solar+storage market here in the Commonwealth,” said Steve Fludder, NEC Energy Solutions CEO. “Over the next few years, we expect energy storage to rapidly expand in Massachusetts as commercial customers look for additional ways to cut costs, reduce emissions and enhance resiliency. We look forward to working with the Solect team to capitalize on that growth.”

As a Qualified DSS Partner for NEC, Solect will act as a reseller and independent contractor, installing, operating and maintaining DSS energy storage units. The DSS platform is scalable from 85 kWh to 510 kWh of energy storage capacity and offers from 100 kW up to 710 kW of power capability. As a standardized, UL safety-certified, AC-ready system including power conversion system, the DSS product is preconfigured in outdoor-rated enclosures, compliant with all relevant regulatory and environmental requirements and is backed by up to a 10-year product warranty.

— Solar Builder magazine

New Jersey water treatment plant now prepped with on-site solar-plus-storage microgrid

EOS energy storage

A 250-kW, 1 MWh Eos Aurora DC battery system was commissioned at the wastewater treatment plant in the Borough of Caldwell, NJ. The batteries are a central component of Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s (PSE&G’s) on-site solar-plus-storage microgrid that will help keep the facility operating during extended power outages. The Caldwell microgrid is part of the New Jersey utility’s Solar 4 All program.

The microgrid includes an Eos Energy Storage system and an 896 kW-DC solar PV system designed and installed by Advanced Solar Products of Flemington, NJ. Siemens Energy Management integrated the Eos Aurora system, solar facility, and existing diesel generator, using the Eos Znyth battery technology as the backbone of the microgrid to reinforce emergency resiliency for this piece of critical municipal infrastructure. Siemens also provided the intelligent control technology to monitor, manage and distribute power across the system.

The solar and battery storage systems are connected directly to PSE&G’s electric grid. Under normal conditions, the solar panels deliver power to the grid and the battery storage system can provide value-added grid services for integrating solar onto the grid and participating in ancillary markets.

The Caldwell wastewater treatment plant microgrid is part of a 3 MW-DC portion of the Solar 4 All program. The initiative develops projects that integrate solar with other technologies to reduce the impact of solar on the grid or to demonstrate reliability and grid resiliency of solar for critical facilities during prolonged power outages. The solar installation, combined with Eos’ long-duration energy storage, significantly extends backup power capacity and emergency operation of critical water treatment capabilities.

EOS energy storage

“One of the goals of our Solar 4 All program is to help support the growth and development of solar and related industries in New Jersey,” said Todd Hranicka, director – solar energy at PSE&G. “So we were especially happy to include the battery technology from a fellow New Jersey company like Eos into a project that helps make our electric system and a piece of critical infrastructure more reliable and resilient.”

Construction of the solar-plus-storage system at the Caldwell wastewater treatment plant was a joint effort between Advanced Solar Products, Eos, and Siemens Energy Management. The Eos Aurora battery system was selected on the basis of its multi-hour duration and the benefits of its simple, sustainable and inherently stable zinc hybrid cathode design.

— Solar Builder magazine

Tabuchi updates EIBS solar-storage system, now UL 9540 certification compliant

Tabuchi 2

At Intersolar, Tabuchi America, announced the launch of its Next Generation Eco-Intelligent Battery System (EIBS). The all-in-one system is compliant with the cUL 9540 certification requirements, which provides third-party validation of safety, reliability and efficient energy management for hybrid solar-plus-storage systems. Tabuchi’s grid-friendly system includes a high efficiency inverter, stackable batteries and integration with GELI software for the most adaptable battery storage system on the market.

“As interest in energy storage grows in the residential sector, attention to safety regulations is more important than ever, not just to protect the safety of people and property, but also to expedite the permitting process,” said Harumi McClure, COO and President of Tabuchi America. “We’re pleased to receive the cUL 9540 certification compliance on our highly-efficient Next Generation EIBS. The system is designed for adaptability and ease of installation with a direct current (DC) coupled battery. This maximizes the amount of solar energy utilized by the system and safely provides solar power to the grid, and to residential customers during power outages.”

While there are many efforts to develop and apply safety standards for the rapidly evolving energy storage industry, the cUL 9540 certification compliance is limited to a relatively small number of energy storage manufacturers. The standard certifies Tabuchi’s Next Generation EIBS as a home energy storage system that interacts safely with the cUL 1741 requirements certified hybrid inverter.

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Consumers get more out their system because both the battery’s bi-directional converter and the solar inverter are DC-coupled. This allows the energy generated by the solar panels to directly charge the batteries without first converting to alternating current (AC) like most storage systems. This leads to higher system efficiency through one fewer DC-AC inversion.

The modular stackable battery system is key for customers with larger homes, as well as those who are looking to utilize the system for backup power. The increased storage capacity can help customers keep the critical electrical loads operational longer during a blackout. It also lowers their energy bills by reducing the amount of electricity purchased from the grid during peak hours when prices are highest and/or when utilities levy additional charges. Added surge capability enables the EIBS system to power motor-driven loads such as water pumps, which have a higher starting load, allowing greater integration within the home.

— Solar Builder magazine

Three keys for reducing commercial demand charges with solar-plus-storage systems

Researchers from Berkeley Lab and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) show the dynamic tag team potential of solar plus storage systems for reducing demand charges in commercial applications.

Solar on its own doesn’t do much to fight demand charges. The report, Solar + Storage Synergies for Managing Commercial-Customer Demand Charges, seeks to assess the incremental demand reductions from adding behind-the-meter storage in conjunction with solar. To do so, the study estimates demand charge savings from solar + storage systems based on simulations across a large number of commercial building types and locations, over a multi-year period, with varying solar and storage system sizes and a range of demand charge designs.

Key findings

solar storage demand charge

Solar + storage exhibit consistent synergies for demand charge management. In nearly every simulation, solar + storage co-deployed in commercial buildings result in a greater demand reduction than the sum of what each would achieve alone. The greatest synergies occur for buildings with broad daytime peak loads that extend into early morning and/or evening hours (as shown in the schematic above) and for locations with a high degree of intermittent cloud cover where storage can buffer transient drops in solar production. The strongest solar + storage synergies in our analysis were found for hospitals and office buildings, and for most building types in Miami, though these are not necessarily the cases with the greatest absolute level of demand reduction.

Demand reductions from solar + storage are highly customer-specific. Demand reductions from solar + storage systems vary substantially from customer to customer, depending on commercial building type and location. The greatest demand reductions tend to occur for buildings with relatively narrow afternoon peak loads and in locations with the most consistent sunshine. These are the same conditions in which solar, on a stand-alone basis, tends to yield the greatest demand reductions, though the reductions may be considerably greater with the addition of storage.

Demand charge reductions from solar + storage depend on demand charge design. Solar + storage systems yield greater demand reductions under demand charge designs that are based on pre-defined peak periods; this is in contrast to the more typical “non-coincident” demand charge design that is based on the customer’s maximum demand at any point over the course of the month. Separate from that design issue, demand charge reductions from solar + storage also tend to be greater for demand charge designs where billing demand is measured over relatively short (e.g., 15-minute or 30-minute) intervals.

— Solar Builder magazine