With technology that can compete head to head with conventional power “across wide swaths of the United States”, the solar industry’s new mission is to combine forces with energy storage, Standard & Poor’s Global Market Intelligence reported last week, in a briefing republished by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
The result is that “large-scale solar power plants coupled with energy storage systems are multiplying in the U.S., as developers and grid operators seek to smooth the variable output of solar plants by storing the electricity they produce for peak power demand in the evening,” S&P analysts note. Systems already in operation tie 783 megawatts of solar capacity to 492 MW of storage, and at least 51 additional projects on the drawing boards will integrate another 3,228 MW of solar with 2,888 MW of storage.
What’s more, “beyond known projects with identifiable developers, many more solar-plus-storage power plants are earlier in the development process,” the report adds. “Grid operator interconnection queues and recent responses to utility requests for proposals show several thousand megawatts of additional potential.”
One example was the response to a recent request for proposal from utility holding company Xcel Energy that attracted 57 bids offering more than 10,000 MW (10 gigawatts) of solar+storage. S&P also listed 30 projects in California and Arizona totalling more than 8,300 MW of solar capacity with battery backup.