- Acceptance by utilities and regulators is the main barrier to faster and wider adoption of residential and commercial energy storage in North Carolina, according to a new report from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA).
- Advances in battery technologies used for grid services, reliability and renewables integration are making storage economically viable in North Carolina, but state legal and regulatory frameworks need to be improved to allow utilities to use battery storage. The clean energy group estimates storage could be a $20 billion industry in the state by 2020.
- Batteries can provide generation, transmission, and distribution system services. The two most widely recognized opportunities, the paper reports, are in relieving voltage and frequency fluctuations caused by the variability of renewable generation and providing the grid with ancillary services that support power quality and reliability.
NCSEA’s focus on energy storage is a timely one for North Carolina, Smart Grid News points out. Last month, it became the fourth state to reach 1 GW of cumulative installed solar capacity.
Batteries, the paper notes, can also allow residential and commercial end users to cut their utility bills by storing electricity when it costs least and holding it for use when it is most expensive. Utilities can incentivize the deployment of the technology by offering time varying rates that increase storage's value proposition.
After utilities' and regulators' lack of readiness for the technology, the next biggest barrier to storage deployment is cost, which is still high for a state with relatively low electricity prices. Many industry observers, however, see the installed price of batteries falling as much as 50% by the end of the decade.
Other barriers identivied by NCSEA include the under-valuing of storage by utilities, regulators and end users, and the difficulty in classifying energy storage as generation or a distribution system asset. Such jurisdictional barriers have hampered the ability of utilities in other markets — particularly Texas — to capture the full value of energy storage.