Jan 15, 2019

Solar storage technology is having its time in the sun

A battery storage facility for electricity generated from a solar field in Neuhardenberg, Germany. Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Hawaiian Electric Company just submitted to state regulators seven massive new solar-plus-storage contracts. If built, these would add more than 260 megawatts of solar and, more significantly, over 1,000 megawatt-hours of storage to the Hawaiian grid — more than the total cumulative amount of energy storage deployed across the U.S. between 2013 and 2017.

Why it matters: Solar plus storage is having a breakout moment. The technology allows the power generated by intermittent renewables to be better matched to times when the grid needs it most, which is critical for clean energy growth to continue. It also means that renewables may come to compete more directly with natural gas in some markets, rather than requiring more gas to balance their intermittency, as has been the case so far.

Details: All but one of these contracts came in under 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). These prices are less than the existing price of fossil-fuel derived power in Hawaii (15 cents/kWh), and would dramatically undercut the cost of fossil fuel power in Puerto Rico, which exceeds (20 cents/kWh).

  • With Puerto Rico at an inflection point as it considers the possibility of a completely new power sector model amid its rebuilding efforts, it would be well advised to learn from Hawaii’s experience.

What to watch: Artificial intelligence will likely be added to more solar plus storage technology in 2019 to crunch massive amounts of incoming data. This could help make use of and discharge storage in a way that, for example, helps consumers to avoid large demand peaks (and thus demand charges) or producers to push power on the grid when it can capture the most value, from both high power prices and revenue from offering ancillary services. This is one of the most logical, and potentially transformative, early applications of AI to the energy sector thus far.

David Livingston is deputy director for climate and advanced energy at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center.

Go deeper

12 mins ago - Technology

Cisco, Sony postpone events amid continued protests

Screenshot: Axios (via YouTube)

Cisco said Monday night that it is postponing the online version of Cisco Live, its major customer event, amid the ongoing protests that have followed the killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: Cisco joins Sony, Electronic Arts and Google in delaying tech events planned for this week.

18 mins ago - Technology

Twitter suspends fake antifa account tied to white nationalists

Twitter said Monday that it has suspended an account named "ANTIFA_US" which it says was tied to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. Over the weekend, the account had called for violence and its posts had widely circulated online.

Why it matters: It's the latest example of social media being used to exploit and sharpen the very real divisions in American society. It's also the latest example of Twitter more aggressively rooting out false information on its platform.

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The latest: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized federal police in a tweet Monday night for using munitions earlier in the day "on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of (DC Police Department) officers more difficult." "Shameful!" she added as she urged residents to go home and stay safe.