When Indian Point Shuts Down, Will Storage or Efficiency Save the Day? RSS Feed

When Indian Point Shuts Down, Will Storage or Efficiency Save the Day?

Closing a nuclear power plant is like wading through wet concrete: The hard part is yet to come.

That hard part is coming fast to New York, where the state’s political leadership committed to ramping up to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 while shutting down the clean baseload power of the Indian Point nuclear plant by 2021.

To meet several environmental regulations while providing for the necessary energy and capacity to serve the nation’s most populous city will require some energy acrobatics. Adding 450 megawatts of energy storage could lower costs and carbon emissions compared to other options, while meeting grid requirements, a new study shows.

“Storage can really be a viable option in these very tailored needs that are difficult to meet with other conventional resources,” said author Ed Burgess, senior manager at Strategen Consulting.

A different plan produced by environmental groups opposed to the nuclear plant argues that massive amounts of energy efficiency, combined with the required renewables expansion, can fill the gap. With the clock ticking, the state will have to decide which emerging grid technology deserves its favor, if it wants to avoid building a bunch of new gas peaking capacity.

New wind, old peakers

When Indian Point shuts down early in 2021, per the deal struck by Governor Andrew Cuomo, it will eliminate 2,060 megawatts of capacity, or roughly 14 percent of the local capacity required by the grid operator. Energy efficiency and distributed generation already underway will keep load growth flat over the next few years, but the state still has to fill the hole.

Cuomo has big plans for 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, but that’s not expected until 2030 at the earliest. In the nearer term, New York can count on a few new combined cycle natural-gas generators, and possibly a 1,000-megawatt high-voltage transmission line to bring power from Hydro Quebec.

There is risk in banking too heavily on massive infrastructure projects to bring clean energy down from the north in a timely manner — they can be delayed for any number of reasons.

Gas generation is a more surefire bet in the short term, but it flies in the face of the governor’s promise of “no net increase of emissions due to closure,” although his reference to measuring this “at the regional level” might allow some wiggle room.

Compounding the challenge, the New York metro area has run afoul of federal ozone pollution standards, and old peaking power plants play a significant role in that.

New NOx requirements could shutter 1,775 megawatts of old peaking capacity in the 2023 timeframe, according to the Strategen report, which was prepared for the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium.

“If those units are affected, that represents a pretty large amount of capacity that’s local in New York City, and that would raise additional issues in that early 2020s timeframe,” Burgess said.

If that happens, even the addition of the new gas plants and the Quebec hydro line will leave a 1,000-megawatt shortfall. It’s hard to build that much new peaking capacity in a dense urban region, especially one that’s on notice for air quality concerns. And the region already faces gas pipeline constraints in winter months, when gas is also used for heating.

Such a shortfall, without other action, would drive capacity costs up to the maximum clearing price, saddling ratepayers with $262 million in annual costs, the analysis finds.

Send in the storage cavalry…

The report proposes filling the gap with a combination of 2,400 megawatts of wind generation, 1,125 megawatts of solar, energy efficiency, and, crucially, a backstop of 450 megawatts energy storage.

Wind and solar can fill in for the lost energy production on an annual basis, but they alone don’t fulfill the capacity requirement, which would otherwise force the construction of new gas plants. Storage isn’t cheap, but it is cheaper than the high capacity costs New Yorkers would face without an adequate replacement, and the cost comes down further if you factor in ancillary services and distribution savings the systems could provide.Read full article at GreenTech Media