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July 20, 2017 By Elisa Wood
The California microgrid market is expected to get a boost in July with two key events: release of a solicitation that will offer $44.7 million in microgrid grant money and the next meeting to map out a road forward on state policy.
The fourth microgrid roadmap meeting is set for July 26 at the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel. Hosted by the California Energy Commission, the session will focus on key actions and next steps for the roadmap, a document the state intends to use to help overcome barriers to microgrid commercialization.
The agenda and details about the July 26 meeting can be found on the CEC website.The commission expects to release a draft of the microgrid roadmap in September.
In addition, the commission remains on track to issue a solicitation offering $44.7 million in microgrid grants by the end of July, according to a notice to interested parties distributed by Mike Gravely, deputy division chief at the CEC. The state commission envisions awarding $2 million to $5 million per project. The microgrids must be within the service territories of investor-owned utilities.
Watch for details on the $44.7 million California microgrid solicitation on the Microgrid Knowledge RFP channel.
Hawaii regulators have okayed an integrated resource plan by Hawaiian Electric to move toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
The approved Power Supply Improvement Plan Update applies to Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light.
The company’s move to 100 percent renewables is likely to also mean more microgrids, energy storage and use of other smart energy tools to manage the variability of solar and wind power.
It also will mean more rooftop solar, so the utility plans to expand and upgrade grid infrastructure to accommodate the increase. This will mean use of the newest generation of inverters, control systems and energy storage to help reliably integrate an estimated total of 165,000 private systems by 2030, more than twice today’s total of 79,000, according to a news release issued by the utility.
The Hawaiian Electric Companies say they already are the top utility in the U.S. for percentage of customers using rooftop solar. Their 17 percent compares to a national average of one percent.
Two new reports by Navigant Research forecast significant growth in both distributed and utility energy storage projects – the addition of as much as 50 GW by 2026 globally.
“Worldwide, the energy storage industry continues to gain momentum, with an increasing number of new projects being announced and commissioned,” says Alex Eller, research analyst with Navigant Research. “While most activity remains highly concentrated in select markets, newly announced projects indicate that significant geographic diversification is taking place.”
Navigant paints a picture of a consolidated industry, with five countries representing 58 percent of new energy storage. By 2026, the industry shows more diversification with those five countries representing only 51 percent of new storage capacity.
Utility storage is likely to grow from today’s 1,158.8 MW to 30,472.5 MW by 2026, according to Navigant. Distributed storage, used by residences and businesses, represents a smaller market, 683.9 MW in 2017 growing to 19,699.7 MW by 2026.
What’s driving the growth?
For utilities, it’s grid modernization, challenges related to increased renewables generation, changing regulations, and new business models, according to Navigant. Meanwhile, distributed storage gains traction as sophisticated software and control platforms virtually aggregate batteries so that they can participate in wholesale markets.