How reform of interconnection rules can unlock energy storage’s benefits – Energy Storage News

by | May 10, 2022 | Energy

Some of the most complex work involved in an energy storage project takes place behind the scenes, way before construction and site installation (pictured) even begins. Image: Florida Power & Light.

Energy storage deployment in the US is growing at a phenomenal pace. But the appetite for storage is much greater than the ability to build, and getting grid interconnection rights is often the biggest hurdle. As reported by Energy-Storage.news back in March, a new multi-stakeholder project aims to correct that. Gwen Brown, communications director for the US Interstate Renewable Energy Council, which has led the project, explains in further detail.

Energy storage is a critical piece of the puzzle in the transition to an electric grid powered by high levels of renewable energy. Storage makes it possible to capture the intermittent power produced by distributed energy resources (DERs) like solar and wind and use it when it is most needed.

However, many of the most valuable characteristics of storage can’t easily be utilised on the distribution grid today. That’s because most state-level interconnection rules—the rules that govern whether and how DERs are permitted to connect to the grid—have not been updated to deal with energy storage systems in a way that maximises customer flexibility and ensures the continued safe and reliable operation of the grid.

For example, some DER systems with ESS do not send any electricity back to the grid (non-export systems); others may be designed so that the energy they do send to the grid never exceeds a certain level (limited-export systems) or is exported only during specific times of the day. Yet most interconnection procedures use outdated rules of thumb for assessing the grid impacts of ESS that fail to account for these capabilities.

This and other technical and regulatory barriers make the interconnection process challenging for energy storage, slowing market growth and hindering our ability to deploy these systems at the pace needed to meet climate and clean energy goals.

A new suite of actionable recommendations for regulators and utilities aims to change that. The project team is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) with support from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, includes the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA), utilities New Hampsh …

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