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How dispatchable wind is becoming reality in the US

Capacity applications are only 3-5 years away in selected states where policy and regulation are emerging as key drivers

1 minute read

One needs two ingredients to make wind plus storage succeed: technical capabilities and a predictable revenue stream that values the firmed capacity. New utility and regulatory activity in 2018 are clear signposts that wind paired with energy storage is poised to emerge at scale in 3-5 years.

Analysis from our new report The Potential Wind-Plus-Storage Roadmap introduces new policies from select states, like the proposed wind-plus-storage capacity credit from a utility in Montana, or Massachusetts’s new clean peak standard. Other markets, such as Texas, have exceptional wind resources but few if any mechanisms in place to recognize the value storing this wind would bring.

While the first projects are likely a few years away, wind developers who don’t consider wind-paired-storage in their long-term planning are likely to be left behind as markets adjust and storage costs continue to drop.

Fighting wind’s natural characteristics

Wind energy is intermittent in nature, making it less reliable compared to traditional energy alternatives like oil and gas. Providing wind energy as a continuous baseload resource is not technically feasible, but meeting a limited capacity window with wind-plus-storage can be depending on wind resources and capacity requirements.

Potential extended periods of low wind speeds mean that there is no 100% uptime guarantee for wind energy, even when meeting short capacity windows. With proper risk management in place, however, uptime of wind-plus-storage could approach the availability of conventional fossil-fuel generators.

Cost savings through co-locating

Pairing storage systems with wind assets presents a realistic revenue opportunity, as already seen with solar-plus-storage systems. Wind-paired-storage deployments will be propelled by savings of 5-15% of total system costs, as developers can co-locate storage facilities where infrastructure is already in place.

Co-siting storage at wind farms can reduce engineering, procurement and construction costs on one hand, and hardware costs for site preparation, electrical work, commissioning on the other. Using existing interconnection of short-duration projects alone can reduce the cost of a storage project by 5-15%.

For wind energy developers and asset owners alike, wind-plus-storage offers new revenue opportunities, turns negative price signals from risks into revenue, and as policy and regulation evolves, could become the norm long term.

These lessons, once implemented in the U.S., could apply globally, representing a sea change in the value wind energy provides to the grid.