NextEra CEO: Energy storage will replace gas peakers post-2020

Dive Brief:

  • NextEra Energy CEO Jim Robo said he expects energy storage will begin to replace gas peaking plants after 2020, PV Tech Storage reports.
  • Speaking at a conference hosted by Wolfe Research in New York, Robo said that in addition to storage, the company sees potential growth in the competitive transmission business and in gas pipelines.
  • NextEra is working on a slate of regional storage projects over the next year, including frequency regulation in the PJM Interconnection market.

Dive Insight:

NextEra Energy wants to be the biggest and most profitable renewable energy company in the United States, CEO Robo told the Power & Gas Leaders Conference earlier this week. Advancement in wind and solar generation, storage advances and investment tax credits mean there has “never been a better time to be in the renewable business than today," he said.

The company has begun working on a series of storage projects in regional markets, Robo said, the first of which would address frequency regulation in the PJM market. And he expects that in the not-too-distant future, energy storage will replace expensive peaking generation. "It’s just very likely you’ll build energy storage instead," he said, with an eye towards 2020 and beyond.

Robo expects energy storage prices to fall in a similar fashion to solar costs, which would put the technology on par cost-wise with gas peaker plants. 

The company is still investing in gas generation in Florida, where it owns Florida Power & Light, and has a dubious record on renewables. But it also owns NextEra Energy Resources LLC, which when combined with its affiliated entities, claims to be the world’s largest generator of renewable energy.

Last year the company hit wind production levels of more than 32  million MWh, and operates solar plants in California, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey and Ontario, Canada. NextEra operates approximately 700 MW of solar power.

NextEra has been in talks to acquire Hawaiian Electric, but the deal has faced opposition in the state from officials who say the company's generation mix does not appear to align with goals to take the island's customers to 100% renewable power. NextEra recently indicated that if its proposal to purchase the utility for more than $4 billion was not accepted, it would drop the attempt and decline to refile.

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