OnGrid is excited to support energy storage modeling in the new upcoming OnGrid software.
Why energy storage?
1. Commercial demand charges.
While solar can significantly reduce demand charges when the utility customer’s usage profile lines up with the solar generation profile, we can’t model this savings with the same confidence that we can model energy-charge savings. This is because the demand charge is based entirely on the single 15-minute window with highest load…and stuff happens (clouds, high evening loads, grid fluctuations causing inverters to temporarily turn off).
Energy storage working in tandem with PV gives us the needed control to confidently project demand-charge savings. In some cases, this makes for a much more compelling investment opportunity than solar alone.
2. Utility resistance
Distributed solar without storage is a valuable contribution to the grid when effectively leveraged by utilities. But instead of embracing the new distributed-energy paradigm through bold transition to smarter technology and price signals, many utilities are maneuvering to entrench the old paradigm through lobbying efforts and media / smear campaigns (old paradigm: one-way power flow, with the utility in control and customers as captured passive consumers). Utilities are now taking distributed solar seriously, and campaigns against solar are well organized and funded. Many policymakers and citizens have been convinced that distributed solar is essentially a transfer of wealth from the poor and elderly to the liberal elite. Around the country, distributed-solar export credits are declining.
We can’t win with technology alone. For example, no technology can offset an electric bill based 100% on fixed charges. We need to engage more than ever on policy and advocacy at all levels (thanks CALSEIA for leadership in California). With that said, energy storage is a critical hedge in an increasingly-volatile market. With time-of-use peak windows shifting outside the solar window, energy storage can bridge the gap by storing solar generation for use or export during the peak window (“energy arbitrage”). A worst-case scenario is a utility giving no credit to exported solar — as the cost of energy storage continues to come down, “zero export” strategies are becomming increasingly economical where grid electricity is expensive.
3. Ancillary services
Distributed energy storage can help utilities and grid operators manage grid frequency and voltage (avoiding expensive infrastructure upgrades). It’ll be a while before these markets are mature and stable, but this could become a significant source of revenue for your energy-storage customers (most likely through a Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation platform).
OnGrid and energy storage
OnGrid will support energy storage modeling.
Going further, OnGrid won’t be satisfied until we can give you the most diligent, versatile, and user friendly energy-storage modeling software on the planet. We’ve established a strong foundation in the new OnGrid software (currently in beta), with interval data modeling and historical-bill verification at its core. We’re building it out as quickly as we can.
We first need to fully support solar modeling, so we can’t yet give a timeline for energy-storage modeling. But let’s please talk if you’re already comfortable with energy storage modeling — it might be practical for you to leverage the beta sooner than later for your storage modeling work.
The new OnGrid software is all about making it easier, faster, and more enjoyable for you to prepare the most compelling and trust-building financial presentations.
Michael Bishop, 7/14/17