July 13, 2017 Read More →

On the Blogs: Minnesota Researchers Say Adding Storage to Grid Can Replace Coal and Gas Peaking Plants

Frank Jossi in Midwest Energy News:

Adding more energy storage in Minnesota could reduce the need for more fossil fuel power plants and significantly reduce greenhouse gases, according to a new University of Minnesota report.

Issued by the university’s Energy Transition Lab, “Modernizing Minnesota’s Grid: An Economic Analysis of Energy Storage Opportunities” looks at how the introduction of more storage could reshape the state’s energy grid.

Ellen Anderson, executive director of the Energy Transition Lab, said storage could help utilities avoid building peaking plants that run only at times of high-volume electric consumption.

“It looked like using storage alone for replacing a gas peaking plant would be cost effective in a few years,” she said.

However, if the storage was combined with solar energy, “it would be cost effective now and you would significantly reduce greenhouse gases compared to using a peaking plant to meet demand,” she added.

Moreover, storage could hasten the rollout of more renewable energy projects because power produced by wind or solar could be stored and delivered when needed, she said.

The same would be true for the larger Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which manages the grid in most Midwest states. Were Minnesota to take a leadership role it might become a center for storage in the Midwest, Anderson suggested.

Anderson and others involved in the project met with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday to discuss the potential for storage.

Competing with generation

She hopes the commission will consider an “all source procurement” process in the future that allows for energy storage to compete with generation projects at the commission, which could potentially lead to more storage projects. For now Minnesota only has one small storage project at Hartley Environmental Center in Duluth.

However, the landscape is beginning to change. Connexus, the state’s largest electric cooperative, is embarking upon a solar-plus-storage project that, when completed, will be the largest in the Midwest, Anderson said. It will be as large as 40 megawatts and could pave the way for other utilities to follow.

Full article:  ‘Time is now’ to add energy storage to Minnesota grid, researcher says


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