NYPA’s 20MW battery demo to ease transmission constraints, help share renewables

NYPA building, NYC. Image: wikimedia project public domain.

With energy storage poised to take off in New York from both a deployment and industry growth perspective to meet ambitious state targets, the New York Power Authority has said it will build a grid-scale lithium battery storage demonstration project.

NYPA’s Board of Trustees has approved US$29.8 million to fund the total cost of the 20MW project, which will be built next to an existing substation in Franklin County, New York. A NYPA release said it will store energy for one hour (20MWh) and will be used to “absorb excess generation for later delivery”.

NYPA vice chairman Judge Eugene Nicandri described the project as a “great opportunity for NYPA to demonstrate a utility-scale battery project and encourage energy storage adoption throughout the state.”

"Energy storage is vital to the growth of renewable energy. This facility will promote economic development in the North Country, help resolve transmission constraints, and bring New York State closer to its energy storage targets,” Nicandri said.

NYPA is currently negotiating with a vendor for the battery facility, with construction expected to begin in October, for completion by June 2020. The authority said the site had been chosen for its strategic location: the Northern New York area has 650MW of wind resources and the nearby St Lawrence hydropower project, which has been supplying renewable power since 1958. At present, those transmission constraints alluded to by NYPA Vice Chair Eugene Nicandri mean that energy is being prevented from being delivered downstate from those significant generation resources. 

In early 2018, Navigant Research analyst Alex Eller wrote for this site about how distributed energy technologies, with energy storage at the heart, are and will be "challenging conventional thinking around grid planning," while Convergent Energy + Power CEO Johannes Ritterhausen recently told Energy-Storage.news that most of the utilities the developer deals with have or are considering so-called 'non-wires alternatives' to conventional infrastructure upgrades. 

New York State has enacted legislation to supply 70% of the state’s electricity from renewables by 2030, “reduce carbon footprint to zero” and to deploy 3,000MW of energy storage to meet that goal.

Utility Consolidated Edison New York has just issued a Request for Proposals to procure its 300MW share of that target, Energy-Storage.news recently reported, with another, Central Hudson Gas and Electric doing the same for its own, much smaller 10MW share.

Meanwhile, in common with other states in the US including California, there are also serious efforts being made to examine the case for “replacing or repowering” peaking power plants using energy storage. New York’s Department of Public Service recently put out a report to this effect, although that study has already been described as “flawed” by trade association and technology group NY-BEST, which said that for reasons including the use of 2013 - a year of all-time high peak demand - the report underestimates the potential for batteries to replace peaker gas plants.

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