Solar+storage is beginning to undercut natural gas “peaker” plants in Arizona on price, and is now in a position to supply more affordable peak-hours electricity in every part of the United States, 8minuteenergy Renewables CEO Tom Buttgenbach asserted in a recent post by PV Magazine.
The article cites a study by battery manufacturer Fluence, a joint venture between Siemens and AES, which shows solar with battery back-up competing against “mid-merit” gas plants in four of the country’s five grid service areas, particularly in scenarios where grid revenue holds steady over a 30-year span. With average capacity factors of 15 to 45%, mid-merit facilities are designed to be used more frequently than peaker plants, but less often than baseload power installations.
Even with U.S. solar energy subsidies on track to be phased out by 2023, the review of 435 natural gas combined cycle plants across the country shows continuing cost reductions working to the advantage of solar+storage. The study points to a Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables projection of “6% and 8% annual reductions in all-in cost for front-of-the-meter solar PV and energy storage, respectively, between 2018 and 2022,” PV Magazine notes.