No energy storage = no solar project?


By: SGN Staff

Of the five power purchase agreements between BrightSource Energy, a solar thermal company, and Southern California Edison under consideration, two have received a thumbs down from California Public Utilities Commission staff.


According to a GigaOM news story, commission staffers said the two agreements cost too much and added that the plants involved wouldn't have energy storage capabilities. In their report, commission staff said storage reduces the integration risk for renewable energy and offers more value to ratepayers. The idea is that with storage facilities,  a solar power plant could hold electricity when demand is low and draw from that stored power when demand is high - certainly an added value.


The news story also indicated that the CPUC is thinking about requiring utilities to cover the cost of energy storage as more solar and wind is integrated into the grid. What is considered landmark energy storage legislation was signed into law in California in 2010.


BrightSource announced in November of last year that it was adding thermal energy storage (molten salt technology) to three of its agreements with Southern California Edison, but not all of them. As the GigaOM story noted, adding energy storage to a project doesn't always work out.


The CPUC was expected to vote on the five power purchase agreements this week, but postponed the decision until next month.


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