May 8, 2018 Read More →

BP Unit Links Solar and Storage in Western U.S. Projects

Greentech Media:

The BP-backed solar developer Lightsource sees a very compelling case for deploying energy storage in the Western U.S.

All major utility-scale solar developers have added storage development talent, and some have begun regularly bidding on combined projects. But few have actually won bids for, much less constructed, hybrid plants. That makes it hard to determine just how central that kind of project is to their business models. Not so with Lightsource, the largest European solar developer, which launched its U.S. branch last year and soon after it received $200 million from oil and gas giant BP in exchange for a 43 percent ownership stake.

North America Chief Commercial Officer Katherine Ryzhaya affirmed the company’s view on storage in a keynote interview at GTM’s Solar Summit in San Diego last week. “For a utility-scale solar developer, we’re not putting forward any proposals without storage, currently, to anybody west of the Colorado,” she said. “Every utility process, every bilateral at this point, at least on the West Coast, is looking at solar-storage hybrids.”

The aggressive use of energy storage follows from Lightsource’s strategy of customer-driven project development. Traditionally, solar developers would start by nabbing a site and securing interconnection, then look around for an offtaker, Ryzhaya said. “I don’t think that’s the world we’re dealing in today. Today, it’s entirely flipped: It’s a customer-led business.”

The old way prioritized least-cost development; under the customer-driven mentality, Lightsource crafts projects tailored to specific customer needs. Such a perspective is more amenable to the higher cost inclusion of storage, provided that it solves a problem that standalone solar can’t.

Lightsource tracks the retirement of conventional power plants, Ryzhaya said, and seeks opportunities to backfill that gap with solar and storage. This combination is particularly attractive when plants retire in dense urban load pockets, where permitting a new gas plant would be exceptionally difficult.

More: Lightsource: No More Solar Bids Without Energy Storage West Of The Colorado

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