Will the Clean Peak Standard spark America’s fabled battery boom?

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In late March, Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker’s office filed its finalized Clean Peak Standard (CPS) regulations with state legislators. The regulation is expected to take hold in June, following a 30-day review period.

The policy identifies peak four-hour time windows in each season and delivers credits for renewable energy delivered to the grid during those hours. The credits are scaled by need at time of delivery, with those peak times having a higher credit multiplier than other times. Pending anything drastic, Massachusetts will become the first state to institute such a policy.

The standard has been lauded as a model of providing reliability and predictability in delivering electricity across areas with already high levels of renewable penetration.

Massachusetts, however, is not the only state with high renewable penetration and a duck curve to combat, so pv magazine sat down, virtually, with Roger Lin, VP of marketing with NEC Energy Solutions to discuss the national ramifications of the clean peak and if similar policy could drive renewable and battery adoption in areas that have not seen renewable penetration.

“I see it as a no-compromise solution to larger and larger nodes of clean energy, without sacrificing the way we like to use electricity… We think it will definitely add a bit of certainty to revenue streams that energy storage can provide, while also accomplishing the larger goal of having clean energy delivered when it’s needed, not just when it’s generated.”

Lin also shared that while the CPS is important for the capacity of storage it is anticipated to bring to Massachusetts, the real impact of the regulation is the framework that it sets for states in a similar position.

“In the near term, the demonstration of the effectiveness of the CPS as a regulation [is that] it provides a lot of information to states that are dealing with high amounts of intricate and variable renewables to put in regulations in a similar vein… Just look to the states that have the highest amounts of installed solar. You’ll see that [solar] basically creates that duck curve. In parts of the Southwest, those states with great solar resources and great penetration of solar could really benefit from something like a clean peak.”

In the last decade, the United States saw a boom in solar adoption, triggered by improving economics and policy on the state and federal levels incentivizing utilities to clean up their power mix.

A boom in storage

The United States seems poised for a boom in storage. Not only does Lin believe that widespread adoption of Clean Peak-esque policies will lead to booms in other states, but that, in an altered form, the regulation could be used as a model to drive overall renewable adoption in low-penetration areas.

“Policy like CPS will lead to faster adoptions of storage and faster realization of delivering clean power when it’s needed. I think that’s a fundamental transformation that has to happen to our power sector and our electricity grid, so that we can meet some of the standards that these states are putting forth.”

One aspect of CPS that directs the policy towards states with already high penetration of renewables is the provision that utilities’ annual clean peak credits must match a given percent of electricity delivered that year, starting at 1.5% and growing annually. This is an aspect of the original that would have to be modified for low-penetration states.

“The CPS enables…the electricity grid to accommodate generation that is variable, intermittent and not controllable. As you create that flexible backbone, you’re creating the structure to allow more clean energy to be adopted. That’s where the storage or some other flexibility-providing asset gets installed next to new [solar] generation. That’s one of the advantages, one of the beauties, of advanced battery storage: you can put it next to generation if you want, you can put it in the grid if you want, you can put it by the load if you want, unlike some of the more traditional technologies used to store electricity.”