APS, First Solar Bringing Energy Storage to Desert Solar Site
Arizona Public Service (APS) and First Solar are bringing a 50 MW solar-fueled battery to the desert to provide clean power to Arizonans on hot summer days.
This project will make Arizona home to one of the largest battery storage systems in the country. The design models how the future of solar and storage can work together to deliver power to customers during peak hours.
First Solar will build and operate this flagship facility that includes a 65-MW solar field to charge the battery. APS has signed a 15-year power-purchase agreement with First Solar that will enable APS to use the stored battery power when energy use is at its peak later in the day.
By pairing clean solar energy with advanced battery technology, First Solar and APS will be able to store power when the sun is high in the sky and deliver it to customers between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. when the sun is on its way down, but energy use is peaking. This means that APS customers can get more of their peak power from solar.
This project adds to the more than 1 million solar panels and three grid-scale batteries currently on APS’s system. Over the next 15 years, APS plans to adopt more than 500 MW of additional battery storage.
For First Solar, the project represents the next step in solar energy. Utility-scale solar is a clean energy resource, and the addition of battery storage allows the power of the sun to be used in the evening when the energy is needed most. This is a logical use of technology in a state that sees nearly 300 days of sunshine per year.
The project was developed in response to APS’s request for peaking capacity resources. APS has full use of the 50 MW battery and can maximize hourly capacity until it is fully discharged. The facility is set to begin service to customers in 2021 and will be built directly adjacent to the existing APS Redhawk Power Plant in western Maricopa County.
By Rod Walton, Senior Editor
PwC M&A Report Shows That Utility Sector Deals Fell Significantly Last Year
Power and utility merger and acquisition (M&A) deals doubled in 2017’s fourth quarter compared to the same period one year earlier, but overall the M&A activity tagged well behind 2016, according to a report from PwC.
Deals involving Oncor-Sempra and SCANA-Dominion happened too late for 2017, if they happen at all. Overall, power and utilities M&As fell 11 percent to 63 deals with the value falling nearly half to $82 billion in 2017, according to PwC.
The number of sector deals $50 million or more totaled $18 billion in the fourth quarter, twice the M&A activity in 2016’s last three months. Deals totaled more than $140 billion in 2016’s first three months, however, more than double 2017’s first nine months.
PwC expects higher numbers for power and utility deal-making this year. Sempra’s $18 billion bid for Texas-based Oncor Electric Delivery is awaiting regulatory approval, while Dominion’s nearly $15 billion buyout offer to South Carolina’s SCANA is in its early stages.
“We expect activity to accelerate in 2018 as compared to 2017 as those active prior to 2017 return to the M&A market upon integration of those previously announced deals, with focus on growth and impacts of tax reform on capital structure and balances sheets adding even more incentive for deal activity,” said Jeremy Fago, U.S. Power & Utilities Deals Leader for PwC.
Vistra’s $10.6 billion acquisition of Dynegy was more than half of fourth-quarter’s major transactions total, according to PwC. In its report, PwC estimated that 70 percent of 2017 M&As were strategic deals as opposed to financial.
By Rod Walton, Senior Editor
FERC Ruling Clears Path for Energy Storage in RTO/ISO Capacity Markets
The nation’s top regulatory board for energy transaction voted to allow energy storage resources to participate in the capacity markets offered by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (RTO/ISO).
The approval by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members in February could create a level field for energy storage operators wanting to compete on the capacity and ancillary energy markets operated by the RTO/ISOs. The vote was culmination of proposed rulemaking first announced in November 2016.
Traditional market rules may have created barriers to entry for emerging technologies such as battery storage systems, according to the FERC release. Navigant Research has forecast that annual installed energy storage capacity for electric T&D deferral could near 15 GW in only eight years.
“Today’s final rule helps remove these barriers by requiring each regional grid operator to revise its tariff to establish a participation model for electric storage resources that consist of market rules that properly recognize the physical and operational characteristics of electric storage resources,” the FERC release reads. “The participation model must ensure that a resource using the model is eligible to provide all capacity, energy and ancillary services that it is technically capable of providing, can be dispatched, and can set the wholesale market clearing price as both a seller and buyer consistent with existing market rules. “
Energy storage advocates applauded the new rule, of course. The Energy Storage Association has long called for transparent and standardized RTO/ISO policies regarding participation and integration by battery resources.
“Electric storage technologies already fulfill crucial functions in the bulk power system to provide reliable power and a more resilient grid,” Kelly Speakes-Backman, ESA CEO, said in a statement. “FERC signaled both a recognition of the value provided by storage today, and more importantly, a clear vision of the role electric storage can play, given a clear pathway to wholesale market participation.”
The rulemaking also stressed the need for reforms in distributed energy resource aggregations, but decided that more information is needed before making final decisions. FERC called for a technical conference to examine those DER aggregation issues in the near future.
Thursday’s new rule will take effect 90 days after being published in the Federal Register. RTO/ISOs must file compliance details within 270 days, and implement the tariff revisions exactly one year later.
Eaton, UL Teaming on Cybersecurity
Testing for Power Management Tools
Eaton is teaming with safety standards group UL on setting cybersecurity criteria for network-connected power management products and systems.
The program, currently in development on a limited basis, aligns Eaton’s testing methodologies and data generation with the UL Cybersecurity Assurance Program for UL standards 2900-1 and UL 2900-2-2. Eaton’s Pittsburgh cybersecurity research lab can now test intelligence or embedded logic products against key aspects of the UL standards.
Verified products will be a key in the connected future, Max Wandera, director of Eaton’s Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, said in an emailed response to questions from POWERGRID International. IHS Markit forecasts that about 75 billion devices will be connected online in only seven years, he noted.
“As utilities and other customers deploy smarter, connected devices, it’s important to be able to trust and verify that the technologies that they’re relying on are designed, built and tested to sound engineering practices,” Wandera said.
Through UL’s Cybersecurity Assurance Program, Eaton, UL and other organizations are working together to establish foundational requirements for testing network-connected industrial control systems. Eaton says its Power Xpert Dashboard is the first power management product certified to the UL 2900-2-2 standard.
“We view security as a continuous journey as product complexities, threat scenarios and technology evolve,” Wandera said. “Our approach is designed to safeguard products across the entire product development lifecycle.”
Cybersecurity vulnerabilities are a constant worry within the utility industry, highlighted by successful attacks to Ukraine’s grid and in the U.S. The number of security incidents in the manufacturing sector is 40 percent higher than the average of other industries, according to IBM’s Threat Intelligence Index.
Wandrea sees third-party accreditation, such as UL, as key for the industry.
“Providing vigorous standards, testing and methodologies to reduce risk is critical, and UL’s cybersecurity standard provides a comprehensive guideline,” he said.
By Rod Walton, Senior Editor
Missouri Judges Reject State Regulators’ Denial of Grain Belt Express HVDC Project
Appellate judges rejected a decision by state regulators that denied a $2 billion interstate wind energy transmission line and are sending the case to the Missouri highest court.
The Feb. 27 ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, said that the Missouri Public Service Commission was wrong last year when it did not grant a line certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to the Grain Belt Express Clean Line Project. The 750-mile Grain Belt, already approved by other states, would bring 500 MW of wind energy from Kansas through Missouri to Illinois and other markets.
In August 2016, Grain Belt’s parent firm Clean Line Energy sought a CCN for the $2 billion high voltage direct current line’s route. The Missouri PSC rejected the application on grounds that it could not grant a CCN without the consent of each county affected in the state’s 230-mile portion.
Presiding Judge Lisa P. Page and fellow judges Lawrence E. Mooney and Roy L. Richter did not agree with the regulators, but added that the path was complicated. Grain Belt wanted the case remanded back to the commission with orders to follow the ruling, but that court cannot make such a ruling that supercedes regulators.
“The commission erred in finding it could not lawfully grant a line CCN to Grain Belt,” the ruling read. “We could reverse the commission’s order” However, because of the general interest or importance of the question involved in the present case, we order this case transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court.”
Parent company Clean Line called the ruling a “significant victory” for the Missouri economy, as the project is expected to create many jobs and also save $10 million annually from low-cost clean energy.
“After a thorough case that lasted for several months and involved testimony submitted by expert witnesses, the Missouri Public Service Commission determined the Grain Belt Express was in the public’s best interest” despite rejecting the application on procedural grounds, the company statement read.
“Every day that these benefits are delayed sets Missouri back as it strives to compete in this global economy. It is our hope that the Missouri Supreme Court will hear this critical case in an expedited manner. To that end, we will be asking the court to schedule arguments in this case at the earliest possible moment.”
Previous Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon endorsed the Grain Belt Express during his tenure, as did companies such as General Motors, Target, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s and NestlÃ©. Nixon now is part of the project’s legal team.
Clean Line originally filed for Missouri approval nearly four years ago. Kansas and Illinois regulators already have OK’d the line’s route through their states.
RMI, Grid Singularity Gain New Financing for Blockchain Venture
A joint venture started by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Austrian blockchain developer Grid Singularity exploring the potential of blockchain on energy transactions has attracted a new round of partners and financing in the past six months.
The new Energy Web Foundation announced that 12 global firms and 15 strategic partners have joined as affiliates since the start of Round B fundraising in August 2017. Those include AGL Energy, Duke Energy, Exelon, Innogy, Swisspower and Wipro, among others.
Energy Web Foundation so far has raised about $17 million from 37 affiliates. The original 10 includes Centrica, Elia, Engie, Sempra Energy, Shell and TWL.
“Joining the Energy Web Foundation is a further step in the digitization of the E.ON Group. Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt the way energy markets operate today. With this open accessible test platform we can start to develop future market standards and build reorganized, more efficient ecosystems,” said Dr. Frank Meyer, senior vice president B2C, SME & Innovation, E.On SE, in a statement.
Since public launch of the EWF test network, Tobalaba, on Nov. 1, 2017, more than 25 companies have started building and testing their decentralized applications on the network. Energy Web Foundation touts Tobalaba as the only open-source energy industry blockchain platform. In 2018, special attention will be paid to introducing scaling mechanisms, and improving connectedness with physical assets/devices, the release reads.
“Our goal is to create a global ecosystem of innovators committed to working together to advance the state of the art of this powerful technology. With the expansion of our network through these Round B additions, we have assembled the preeminent global consortium tackling blockchain applications in energy,” said Jon Creyts, foundation council member of EWF and managing director at RMI.
Energy Web Foundation was started in May 2017 by a joint effort between RMI and Grid Singularity. At its founding, the foundation reported it had discovered nearly 200 use cases for blockchain technology in the energy sector.
Blockchain technology can allow energy devices such as HVAC systems, water heaters, electric vehicles, batteries and photovoltaic systems to transact with each other at the distribution edge while supporting utilities and grid operators in integrating more utility-scale variable renewable energy capacity at much lower cost, EWF said.
Virtual Power Systems Teaming with SAP and Schneider on Power Delivery Within Data Centers
Virtual Power Systems (VPS) is working with SAP’s Multi-Cloud Computing team and the SAP Co-Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley to validate the use of VPS’s Intelligent Control of Energy (ICE) platform for optimizing power delivery. With VPS ICE, SAP will test the ability to track, monitor and manage power usage within the data center while automatically reallocating power distribution based on capacity and availability demands.
“With ICE, next-generation data center and cloud providers can increase power capacity and resiliency within existing IT footprints to improve revenues while reducing capital and operating expenses,” said Steve Houck, CEO of VPS. “Enterprise customers also benefit from reduced power infrastructure wait times and costs, empowering them to invest more in IT initiatives that drive business innovation.”
SAP Co-Innovation Labs (COIL) provide infrastructure and space for SAP, its partners and customers to co-innovate new solutions to the most-pressing challenges organizations face in the digital economy. VPS’ ICE technology will monitor data-driven workloads and offer real-time visibility into the exact amount of energy used by specific data-center systems and applications.
“Virtual Power Systems enables us to implement the fourth and final pillar in our overarching “˜Software-Defined Everything’ data center strategy,” said Mikael Loefstrand, SAP vice president, Cloud Architecture & Engineering. “The ability to support compute, storage, network and now power virtualization will help SAP operate the most advanced and efficient data centers in the world. The opportunity to simulate real-world data center scenarios in our lab is ideal for examining cutting-edge technologies and solutions that can be readily applied today.”
Schneider Electric will support the deployment and help demonstrate the ease with which VPS’ ICE technology can increase power capacity by up to 40 percent without compromising data-center or system availability.
“As an early VPS partner and collaborator, Schneider Electric has successfully implemented ICE intelligence in our Galaxy VM UPS line,” said Jeff Samstad, director of innovation and new businesses at Schneider Electric. “Together with VPS, we look forward to helping SAP, along with SAP HANA customers and partners, realize considerable capacity enhancements at global Co-Innovation Labs as well as more than 50 data centers around the world.”