National lab: ‘Hybrid’ renewable storage projects triple

Source: By David Ferris, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A study of new projects lining up to join the electric grid shows that renewables paired with batteries are fast gaining currency.

Proposals for plants that couple wind or solar power with batteries jumped by more than a factor of three between 2018 and 2019, with solar-battery combos leading the way.

That’s according to a new interactive tool created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that tallied up all the projects applying to join the grid, known as the interconnection queue.

The national lab’s assessment suggests that utilities are seeing hybrids as a realistic and cost-effective way to make up for wind and solar energy’s downside: The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.

“Data from interconnection queues demonstrates the considerable commercial interest that exists in hybrid power plants, especially solar co-located with storage,” the report said.

Many of these projects won’t actually get built, but they show a solid trend, the authors said.

Between 2018 and 2019, the number of solar-storage and wind-storage projects jumped from 32,000 megawatts to 106,000 MW.

A full 85% of the 2019 hybrid projects involved solar power, with wind making up 8%. An additional 4% were superhybrids that comprised wind, solar, gas and batteries.

Every major grid system in the country except for ISO New England Inc. had substantial numbers of projects.

The study didn’t include smaller projects of less than 1 MW or behind-the-meter installations that customers build at their own sites.

The study also showed that coal’s new entries onto the grid are shrinking to almost nothing.

A total of 736 MW of coal-fired power applied to join the grid two years ago, the report found. Last year, that dropped to 11 MW.