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SRP and NREL Launch One of the Largest-to-Date Home Energy Storage Studies

October 25, 2018 (updated 8/19/19)-  SRP customers in central Arizona are participating in one of the largest energy storage studies, helping NREL and Salt River Project (SRP) identify the value that battery energy systems will have for customers and utilities.

With home battery energy systems (BES) gathering market momentum, residents and utilities worldwide are weighing the benefits of storage. To advance understanding of this emerging technology, one utility in central Arizona is collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to launch one of the largest BES studies to date for up to 4,500 of its customers.

Salt River Project (SRP), a major utility in one of the sunniest locations in the United States, is providing qualified customers financial incentives to purchase a residential battery system. Customers can be selected to participate in a research study, which provides a large-scale analysis of the benefits and impacts of BES technologies. NREL will assist the utility throughout the 3-year program by evaluating battery technologies and interpreting data about customer battery use.

The initial phase of the project will use research capabilities only found at NREL, including the Energy Systems Integration Facility’s high-performance computing to manage the millisecond-to-minute resolution data, and advanced battery testing in the Thermal Test FacilityPDF. Subsequent phases might use data from customer battery use and BES performance, allowing NREL researchers to develop modeling and simulation tools to assess the customer benefits and distribution network impacts of BES.

With energy storage technologies gaining importance, this study is a landmark effort to understand the value that BES technologies will have to both customers and utilities. The breadth and resolution of data, combined with the modeling and scenario analysis performed by NREL, will constitute a critical look at the foreseeable impacts of the storage industry.

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Arizona Solar Center note on the above: SRP has a Battery Storage Incentive program that as of mid-August 2019 had 3645 reservations remaining.  Of course, this only for SRP customers. Customers can get up to $3,600 (doubled effective 5-1-19) from SRP for adding a battery storage system to their homes. It is not necessary to have a PV system. Customers can call the SRP Connected Home team at (602) 236-4448 or see https://www.srpnet.com/electric/home/batterystorage/default.aspxThe Arizona Solar Center would like SRP customer feedback on this project for a future article, if you take part and would like to share your experience, drop us a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Under current policies, residential batteries increase emissions in most cases

Optimizing battery use to minimize emissions is possible, but generally overly expensive.

A recent study of residential home batteries that are AC coupled (such as Enphase and Tesla to name a few), as contrasted to the DC coupled residential home batteries  (such as SolarEdge SolarStore inverters for example) points out the fact how a battery system is charged relates to the effect on overall emissions.  If the battery is only discharged during periods of peak emissions and only charged when fossil fuel use is low, then a household might reduce emissions.

See the full report at: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/12/residential-batteries-may-save-households-money-but-rarely-reduce-emissions/

Massive Asian Renewable Energy Project will generate 11,000+ MW in Western Australia

Long Term Large Scale Renewable Energy Project

This is an interesting project involving the Governments of Indonesia, Singapore and Western Australia, as well as large energy users and Nyangumarta people in the Pilbara.The Asian Renewable Energy Hub will generate 11,000+ MW of renewable energy in Western Australia. 5,000+ MW will be dedicated to large energy users in the Pilbara region, which could include new and expanded mines, downstream mineral processing and the large scale production of hydrogen for domestic and export markets. 6,000 MW will be exported to South East Asia through undersea High Voltage DC transmission cables.

7,000 square kilometres (2,700 square miles) of prime land in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia was selected to accommodate at least 7,500+ MW of wind turbines and 3,500+ MW of solar photovoltaic panels. Outstanding wind and solar resource and large project scale will result in competitive, firm renewable energy generation.

Learn more at https://asianrehub.com/

Solar Thermal Electric Systems

Solar thermal power (electricity) generation systems collect and concentrate sunlight to produce the high temperature heat needed to operate conventional steam-cycle plants to generate electricity.  A good primer on this is available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (https://www.eia.gov/) at https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=solar_thermal_power_plants

A more detailed description is available on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_energy

The technology seems simple, but the details are complex.  Large systems are needed to produce electrical energy at competitive costs. High temperatures increase the efficiency, but result in high pressures for the fluid that is used, and fluids that can be toxic. 

Since these systems use various means to concentrate the sunlight on a receiving surface, require a means to keep the sun focused on the receiving area and they need direct sunshine.

Many of these large systems have had difficulty the anticipated energy and/or have had operational problems. One large and expensive system in Arizona has been in the news: Underachieving Solana Solar Plant Keeps Polluting Arizona's Air