Will New York reach ambitious energy storage goals? Significant questions remain, says expert.
STATEN ISLAND, NY – New York State unveiled an ambitious roadmap to rapidly expand its energy storage capabilities by the end of the decade, following a trend of the nation’s leadership aspirations in the clean energy sector.
The plan, submitted to state regulators for review and open for public comment, calls for reaching six gigawatts of power by 2030 in an effort to provide security for the power grid during times of peak demand as New York marches toward using wider range of renewable energy. .
However, sourcing the vital materials needed to create battery storage, building the infrastructure and encouraging uptake are complex challenges that could serve as potential roadblocks to hitting the state’s lofty goals, many say.
“The state’s energy goals, in general, are ambitious and I would say difficult to meet,” said Eric Hittinger, an associate professor in the Department of Public Policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “I think it’s good to have ambition and it’s good to see that the state is putting policies in place to really accelerate this technology. But I think the biggest challenge is just building the capacity to do all these things.”
Battery storage is considered a “Swiss Army Knife” of the electric grid, maintaining the ability to perform tasks such as absorbing short-term spikes in energy use during hot summer days and pumping power into areas in need when lines go down. of transmission are maximized.
New York’s mandate for a zero-emission grid by 2040 is expected to require increased energy storage, and the latest plan will dramatically bolster the state’s roughly 130 milliwatts of energy storage. Surplus solar and wind energy, expected to increase in the coming years, are among the sources that can be stored in batteries.
The roadmap includes programs led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority that would procure an additional 4.7 gigawatts of storage projects across the utility, retail and residential sectors, bringing together 1.3 gigawatts of storage existing currently under contract to be completed.
“Storing clean, renewable energy and delivering it where and when it’s needed is one of the most critical challenges we must overcome to reduce emissions nationwide, especially from traditional fossil fuel plants,” said Gov. New York Kathy Hochul. “This roadmap will serve as a model for other states to follow by maximizing the use of renewable energy while enabling a reliable and resilient energy grid transformation.”
Among the biggest challenges facing the country is navigating the tight market for lithium-ion batteries.
Electric vehicles currently require the vast majority of this precious resource, and significant supply chain constraints mean that meeting growing demand will be a tough test for localities to overcome.
And with demand unlikely to let up in the electric vehicle market, the need for stationary storage for the electric grid can make securing raw materials a troublesome endeavor.
“The whole world is trying to find ways to rapidly increase the production rate for lithium-ion batteries,” Hittinger said. “As the growth of stationary storage increases, it must compete with other states and countries that are trying to build stationary storage, but more importantly, it must compete with the rapidly expanding electric vehicle market to bought those batteries.”
While the construction of utility-scale yards that hold lithium-ion batteries, which look similar to small containers and are most effectively built near electrical substations, may not be an obstacle for many areas in New York, the limitations of to the space present in the five municipalities you can add a layer of complexity.
An energy storage facility planned for Bulls Head generated public backlash, for example, though other projects, like the one in Great Kills, don’t seem to be sparking protests. Battery storage for homes, by comparison, wouldn’t take up much more space than a wall-mounted unit about the size of a large electrical panel.
However, achieving six gigawatts of energy storage is a huge undertaking. Getting to that level will require “probably hundreds of facilities,” Hittinger said.
How effective the state is at getting developers, businesses and homeowners to take on battery storage will greatly affect its ability to approach this decade-end goal.
“Building the capacity of developers who can buy these batteries and deploy them, and putting programs in place to attract commercial customers and residential customers to get those people to actually buy the batteries that the state hopes will buy, it’s complicated.” Hittinger said.
The state’s roadmap breaks down to include three gigawatts of bulk storage, enough to power roughly one million homes for up to four hours; 1.5 gigawatts of new retail space, capable of powering 500,000 homes for four hours; and 200 megawatts of residential space, enough to power 120,000 homes for up to two hours.
In accordance with state law, at least 35% of the program’s funding must support disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by health issues driven by fossil fuel emissions.
Approval of the plan would support the construction of storage facilities that would lead to about $2 billion in electricity system costs along with a reduction in harmful fossil fuel pollutants, according to Hochul’s office. The storage scope expansion is expected to affect only New York customers for $0.46 per month.
“Energy storage helps us maintain reliability in the electrical grid. It helps us lower the price of electricity in New York City because it eases some of those transmission constraints, and it helps us bring more wind and solar to the grid, so that’s good, and maybe we want to do more of it,” he said. Hittinger. . “But choosing a specific target is really challenging, especially in the context of some of the competing alternatives.”
Some of these alternatives include technology that better shifts air conditioning loads in buildings and smart devices that can communicate with the power grid to determine ideal times to schedule energy demand at times of the day when less electricity is used.
“It’s really hard to see what the ideal grid of the future should look like because all these technologies are competing to help provide flexible dispatch and flexible operation on the power grid,” Hittinger said. “You certainly want something of everything, but how the balance is going to happen is a bit unclear.”