Duke Energy has aggressively promoted its investments in solar, and now is attempting to do so in energy storage – but the reality is, the company cannot claim leadership in these areas.
To give some perspective, North Carolina has over ten million people, and South Carolina just above five million people – while the Hawaiian Islands total almost 1.5 million (making the Carolinas a full order of magnitude larger). This morning, pv magazine reported on the islands negotiating deals for over 1,000 MWh of energy storage as they aim for 100% renewable energy by 2045. These projects will probably be installed before the end of 2022 to maximize federal government tax credits.
This morning, the Duke Energy press department offered up that it would invest $500 million in energy storage projects over the next eight years, totaling approximately 300 MWh of energy storage. This is an underwhelming number and follows Duke’s history of pumping headlines, but ignoring the realities of climate change while the Carolinas recover from one devastating hurricane, and prepares for another.
Duke Energy had greater than $23.5 billion in revenue last year. $500 million, evenly spread over eight years at $62.5 million a year, would represent 2.7% of Duke’s 2017 revenue. Duke Energy paid their CEO over $21 million in 2017.
In these same documents (Duke Energy Progress 271 page PDF, and secondly for Duke Energy Carolinas 278 page PDF) , the utility proposed getting rid of coal by 2050 (!!), and installing almost 10 GW of gas by 2033, while adding approximately 3.7 GW of solar power in the same time frame. Pacificorp, a Berkshire Hathaway electricity utility serving six Western states, said it has no plans to build new gas or coal in the coming decades, but instead plans to add 2.7 GW of wind and 1.8 GW of solar. The Colorado PUC just voted to close coal facilities early and not build news gas in exchange for new solar+wind+storage facilities.
In a time when utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric are signing 2.7 GWh of energy storage to de deployed in five years, Colorado is seeing solar+storage bids under 4¢/kWh, and states like Massachusetts are pushing SMART energy storage incentives, it is disappointing to see such weak projections from the U.S. electric utility industry’s highest paid CEO.
Update: This article was updated at 12:11 PM on October 10: Duke has revealed that the 300 MWh of energy storage will be deployed over eight years, versus the fifteen years the IRP talked about. This means higher annual averages, and multiple figures in this article have been corrected to reflect this. Duke Energy also asked pv magazine note that those in the Carolinas pay a very low rate for their coal and gas powered electricity, and that it isn’t fair to compare them to states like California and Hawaii whose populations have chosen to invest in clean electricity.
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Where are we in terms of storage time capability: my understanding is that the rang in only between 4 and 10 days, depending on the type of battery.
Parts of MD, WVA and VA just experienced a September weather month of high percentage of cloudy days and record rainfall. This limited range of storage wouldn’t have cut it if one was off the grid or tying to aim for that.
> Where are we in terms of storage time capability: my understanding is that the rang in only between 4 and 10 days, depending on the type of battery.
The standard large scale battery is built with a four hour capacity relative to the power it can deliver. This has nothing to do with your statement though.
That a single battery is designed to run for four hours has little to do with whether batteries can back up a grid. For instance, we could use TWO batteries – and suddenly we cover twice as much time. If we strung together SIX batteries, suddenly that’s a single day of energy storage.
Our current hardware has the technical capabilities to completely do what we need.
Why would Duke install more storage? Why would they pay for it if they don’t need it? Hawaii and California need it. The Carolinas don’t.
Building more gas plants and keepin coal till 2050 means more human beings will die due to climate change and pollution. Energy storage allows the Carolinas to not kill more people with the electricity generation by integrating more solar+wind.
To John Weaver:
I should have written that the current writing about storage capacity in batteries discloses a range between 4 hours and 4 days. But you are indicating that this range is misleading, depending on how the batteries are configured and feed power back into the grid: Six batteries wired together could deliver 24 hours worth of storage/retransmission…so can that be extended to say two weeks worth of storage can be obtained by 84 batteries?
The largest solar project East of the Mississippi, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, will not have any battery storage at all. The power is being fed wholesale back into the grid. It will rely on the huge geographical range of PJM and multiple generating sources, still mostly non-rewewable, to compensate for the weather variations in generating solar.
You wouldn’t use the same batteries, you’d add more.
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