Residential solar plus storage is taking over Hawaii’s grid

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Sunrun is part of a Grid Services Purchase Agreement (GSPA) for 1,000 of its residential solar power and energy storage systems (known as Brightbox), along with third party grid-enabled hot water tanks, to be aggregated into a virtual power plant for purpose of providing grid services to Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) on the island of O’ahu.

The agreement was signed with Open Access Technology International, Inc. (OATI), who in turn has an agreement in place with HECO. And finally, the utility has submitted it to the state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC). Cash payments will flow from HECO, to OATI, to Sunrun. Sunrun noted that customers who participate in the program will also receive credits on their electricity bills when energy home battery systems feed the grid.

OATI will manage the various resources via its webSmartEnergy system as the utility communicates its power grid needs in real time. The virtual power plant will start offering services in 2020 and run until at least 2024.

In March of this year, OATI and HECO signed a GSPA and submitted to the PUC. The grid services included in the ancillary services portion of the contract were Fast Frequency Response, Capacity Increase, and Capacity Decrease. In late August, that contract was approved by the PUC, and it seems OATI immediately filed the contract with Sunrun as part of it.

OATI submitted their contract as part of a Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) Renewable Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking to replace two aging fossil power plants. The RFP included a section on grid services (volumes in above image) as well with bids being due on October 15. The will occur December.

In Massachusetts, Sunrun won a deal for ~5,000 of its units to provide 20MW to the New England grid operator’s capacity market beginning in 2022. Greentech Media reported that these 1,000 units in Hawaii would total 4.3 MW worth of capacity.

With Massachusetts and California suggesting that behind the meter energy storage is now a more than viable power grid resource and utilities allowing Tesla and others use their energy storage inverters as meters (literal grid hardware), we’ve really got to wholesale transition toward a mindset that assets both big and small are explicitly the power grid.

Sonnen Communities, like the Utah installation in which a battery per apartment plus rooftop and parking lot solar turned a whole apartment complex into a power plant, might become a regular thing in California as the state grapples with solar on every home.

 

Want to learn more about the ability of solar to provide essential grid services? Come to our Future PV Roundtable on Wednesday, September 25 at the Solar Power International Trade show in Salt Lake City?