In some parts of the country, the costs of solar-plus-storage are beating grid prices, which is good news for the solar industry and the environment.

For example, in Nevada, regulators in 2019 approved three solar-plus-storage power purchase agreements (PPA) for  Berkshire Hathaway Energy ranging from $31/MWh to $37/MWh. In comparison, levelized prices for grid power now range from about $33/MWh to $38/MWh. 

“In the last 10 years, development of solar has gone bonkers. Energy storage is now doing that on steroids,” says Christopher LaForge, co-instructor of HeatSpring’s new 35-Hour NABCEP Advanced Solar Plus Storage: Proposals and Planning course.

Storage is Key to Changing Energy Paradigm

“Storage is the key for changing the entire world energy paradigm nationally and locally,” he says. That’s because storage solves the intermittency challenge for solar, allowing for solar produced during the day to be stored and released at night. And the length of time solar can be stored is increasing.

Part of what’s pushing the costs down are regulations that benefit storage, says Chris Brown, who also teaches the course.

More and more, federal and state measures now allow storage to operate on the grid. An important move was the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Order 841, which said that transmission grid operators must allow energy storage to compete in wholesale markets.

State Efforts That Boost Storage

A number of states have also enacted legislation that has given storage a boost, says Brown. Chief among them is Massachusetts, which offers the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target SMART program, an incentive program that was effective in 2008. Under an emergency order, it was expanded April 15 from 1.6 GW to 3.2 GW. With SMART, projects sized larger than 500 kW are required to include energy storage. 

The state’s Clean Peak Standard has also boosted the use of storage, says Brown. Required by 2018 legislation, it provides credits for clean energy delivered during peak hours. Utilities are required to acquire clean peak credits for a percentage of the total electricity they deliver annually, starting at 1.5 percent in 2020. That percentage increases annually.

“Those two pieces of legislation have caused quite a bit of solar-plus-storage development,” says Brown.

In addition, ISO New England, a regional transmission organization, allows energy storage to be used as a “continuous facility” and participate in many markets, says Brown.

And California offers the Self-Generation Incentive Program, which provides incentives for storage.

New England, New York, California are Best Markets

“New England, parts of New York and California are the markets we are seeing with the best policies and economics today,” says Brown. “All of a sudden, we have a few dozen value streams.” With storage, it’s possible to implement behind-the-meter demand charge reduction, provide resilience, or sell services to regional transmission operators, among other tasks.

LaForge describes new storage markets and the adoption of the technology as a “quiet revolution that can’t be stopped.” The course reflects this revolution, teaching students what they need to know to write proposals for commercial and industrial utility grade energy storage systems. 

“I’ve been trying for 30 years to try to change the national energy paradigm,” he says. “What’s happening now makes me giddy.”

NABCEP Advanced Solar Plus Storage Course Beginning Soon

Come join LaForge and Brown in a brand new version of their 35-Hour NABCEP Advanced Solar Plus Storage: Proposals and Planning course which begins next week! Complete the course and earn 35 hours of NABCEP Advanced PV training hours, as well as all the CEU’s needed to maintain your NABCEP Certification.