Among the arguments made by critics of solar, one of the more credible has been that the technology “eats its own lunch” by lowering mid-day wholesale prices and thus reducing the value of the power it generates.
This is a real phenomenon, and is the case with any inflexible resource. However, the addition of batteries mitigates this issue, and we at pv magazine are broadly seeing the utility-scale solar industry move from solar to solar + storage.
As the latest, last week EDF Renewables North America announced that it had signed a 25-year power contract to sell power to the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), which represents municipal utilities in Anaheim, Burbank and Vernon, for its 101 MW-DC (70 MW-AC) Desert Harvest 2 solar project in Riverside County.
This project includes not only a 35 MW, 4-hour battery system, but EDF also signed a long-term financial hedge for power with Morgan Stanley. The developer says this will shelter SCPPA from exposure to merchant prices, which it describes this a “customer-centric solution”.
“EDF Renewables worked diligently with forward-thinking California municipalities to create a structuring solution to address the specific challenges posed by the California ‘duck curve’,” notes a company press release.
What this means is that at least a third of the electricity generated can be stored and re-sold during high evening electricity prices. However, the ramifications go far beyond this project, and as demonstrated in a recent presentation by Dr. Marc Perez, the careful pairing and sizing of energy storage could allow for very high levels of wind and solar, at low prices.
Desert Harvest 2 is located on unincorporated, public land in Riverside County, in one of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Solar Energy Zones, which have been set aside for large-scale renewable energy. Like the 150 MW-AC Desert Harvest 1, the new project will also utilize a single-axis tracking system.
The project will assist the municipal utilities in Anaheim, Burbank and Vernon to achieve their goals of 40% renewable energy by the end of 2024.