Solar PV Plus Batteries A Game Changer In The Switch To Renewable Energy?
I’ve assumed for some time that there will be many components to the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and of course, that is true. But suddenly things are crystallizing around some combination solutions. A key solution seems to be providing evening peak power, and solar PV + batteries are now outcompeting other technologies. Here I review the space and indicate that First Solar (FSLR) looks to be planning to be a big player in this space. Rooftop solar PV combined with batteries is another emerging trend.
Versatility of batteries becomes clear with adoption: Tesla (TSLA) South Australian battery
Conservative commentators had a lot of fun demonizing how small the world’s biggest battery (Tesla-Neon’s 100MW/129MWh) installation is, saying it would keep South Australia’s grid alive for a very short time. Of course, this completely missed the point. Now that the battery is operating, even enthusiasts have been surprised at how significant even one large battery installation has been in the Australian energy market. It isn’t exaggerating to say the result has been an earthquake, with a number of dramatic impacts.
It has been used to help meet peak demand and to provide grid stability services, such as frequency stabilization when old fossil fuel plants suddenly drop out (as they do, especially in hot weather). The initial response to a power drop occurs within milliseconds with the Tesla-Neon battery and this occurs across the Australian grid.
Before the Tesla-Neon battery, AES (AES) Energy Storage had the record for largest battery with a 30MW/120MWh battery in California. AES has now teamed up with Siemens (OTCPK:SIEGY) in a new company named Fluence, which will give the AES operation more capacity, including its own financing through Siemens’ financial services unit. To show that the new company has big ambitions, it recently won the contract to build for Edison International (EIX) unit Southern California Edison a 100MW/400MWh battery to be located in Long Beach, California. This will set the new record for world’s biggest battery.
Whether this is just the start of a “bigger is better” race, or whether smaller batteries of around 50MW capacity distributed throughout the grid will be preferred, only time will tell.
Just about everyone is getting into this area. Innogy (OTCPK:INNYY), the renewable energy side of German power company RWE’s former business, has recently acquired BELECTRIC Solar & Battery Gmbh, and now it is flexing its muscles in Australia with acquisition of two major solar PV projects (total of 460MW) that are in advanced development in New South Wales. To indicate how quickly these big projects can be built, Innogy expects to start construction this year, with full commercialization next year. Expect the next announcement to include a battery storage component.
And then there is Total Eren, which involves a 23% stake by Total (TOT) in the French renewable energy group Eren Re, with possible acquisition of the group after five years. This is another investment by Total to leverage its low carbon capacity through outstanding companies, where Total provides a substantial capital injection to rapidly grow capacity. An Australian example of this is that Total Eren announced approval for a large (up to 100MW/380MWh) battery to be added to its newly announced solar PV project of 200MW capacity in northwest Victoria. The solar PV aspect of this project, in turn, might be increased to 350MW.Read full article at Seeking Alpha