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Qcells moves onto New York for next standalone BESS projects

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Qcells has followed up the start of construction in the US on its first-ever standalone battery energy storage system (BESS) project with the announcement of three more projects.

The vertically integrated solar PV and smart energy system company, together with developer Summit Ridge Energy, said it is working on three standalone BESS facilities in New York.

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Last week, as reported by Energy-Storage.news, Qcells said it had closed a US$150 million financing deal and begun construction of its 190MW/380MWh Cunnigham Energy Storage project in Texas, marking its first entry into the utility-scale standalone storage space.

The company said the revolving credit loan facility, secured with lead arrangers BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole CIB, would go towards its pipeline of future projects, as well as being applied to Cunningham.

The three New York projects, in Staten Island and Brooklyn, are much smaller, adding up to 12MW/48MWh in total. The revenues they earn will come from a different business model than the Texas project which will play into that state’s ERCOT wholesale merchant electricity market.

They are instead enrolled into New York’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) scheme, through which utilities in the state pay owners and operators of DERs compensation based on when and where they provide electricity to the grid.

That’s based on five factors: energy value, capacity value, environmental value, demand reduction value and locational system relief value.

Qcells’ partner, Summit Ridge Energy, specialises in community solar PV and energy storage projects and already has some other facilities enrolled into the scheme. Summit Ridge has a portfolio of more than 700MW of clean energy projects in operation or development in the US, together with over 100MWh of standalone energy storage, which it only began developing in 2019.

Under the terms of the pair’s three-year partnership, Qcells will supply the energy storage hardware and software. Qcells said it will lean on the energy management system (EMS) it acquired when it bought US commercial and industrial (C&I) storage software specialist Geli in late 2020.

The Geli software will be able to predict peaks in energy demand on the NYISO grid, exporting stored energy during these times to support the network’s stable operation. It was claimed these projects will be the first in New York to “intelligently address peak hour dispatch”.

“The opportunity for energy storage in New York is significant––not only will standalone storage support grid resilience as the state continues to transition to renewable energy, but it will also help reduce reliance on fossil fuel peaker plants and help to regulate grid frequency,” Summit Ridge Energy COO Brian Dunn said.

As noted last week when New York State’s governor Kathy Hochul announced funding to support a grouping of long-duration energy storage projects and technologies, New York has a goal to deploy 6GW of energy storage on the grid by 2030.

In tandem with that is the need to push forward decarbonisation and improvements in air quality by reducing reliance on fossil fuel peaker plants. Thus far, plans for replacement have largely been focused on building large-scale four-hour battery storage plants, typically of about 100MW/400MWh from the few examples in development so far.

However, distributed battery systems like the trio on the way from Qcells and Summit Ridge Energy could be a complementary way to get clean peaking capacity onto the network quickly.

Construction on the three projects has already begun and commissioning is expected to take place early in 2023.

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