U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt recently signaled the Trump Administration plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a directive by the Obama Administration to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. In spite of this positioning, state policies and other drivers likely will continue to push power companies toward investments in cleaner energy resources.
Hawaii Electric Co. is considering moving to a utility-scale commercial energy storage platform. The state’s 100% renewable energy mandate takes effect in 2045, and energy storage can help attain the goal. The company is anticipating 2,700 MW of storage by 2030, which will include small customer-sited batteries as well as utility-scale installations.
Facebook recently announced plans to build a data center in Virginia powered solely by Dominion’s solar power. The utility company is building several solar farms in the state and this announcement is huge for the company as well as Facebook. Data center buildings historically are consumers of large amounts of energy.
Tesla owner Elon Musk recently offered to rebuild Puerto Rico’s energy grid infrastructure with a focus on solar energy and battery-tied power. The Tesla company has built solar and battery systems on a number of other smaller islands around the world and says that scalability is no issue.
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced new funding opportunities to support the use of solar power to desalinate water. The funding will support research and develop projects aimed at using solar thermal energy to turn salt water into fresh water, a very resource-intensive process.
While hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas were devastating to millions of Americans, a light at the end of the tunnel could be a new focus on grid modernization. Using Hurricane Sandy as a lesson, the storm shut down power to millions in the Northeast in 2012, forcing the electric utilities in the region to discuss resiliency. This led the region to invest in various grid modernization efforts as well as distributed energy resources.
The New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium recently released a report that suggests investments in battery storage can help the city replace outdated generation resources and help meet climate change goals. The study finds that nearly 30% of New York City’s steam and combustion turbines will be past retirement in the next five years, and suggests batteries can help fill the generation void in a cleaner way.
The City of San Francisco is looking at solar power systems with energy storage capabilities for about a dozen buildings to help provide power in the event of an earthquake. The project would cost $40 million and is still under consideration.
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced it will support research and development of tools that can enhance the nation’s electric grid system. Seven projects will be awarded $32 million in funding to test new technologies for improved resiliency with new renewable energy systems going online.
The American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy recently announced that eighteen U.S. cities now require building owners to benchmark the energy performance of their buildings and make this information public. This is an effort to make energy consumption more transparent and ultimately, to drive business owners to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings.