Earlier this year, it was announced that $11 million in funding had been secured to build 11 microgrid projects across New York State. Microgrids are vital to the modernization of NYC’s power supply, providing a reliable source of energy, even during extreme weather and emergencies. Powered by on-site renewable technologies, they are also contributing to cutting carbon emissions which is vital to the targeted 40 percent decrease by 2030.
New York is one of the most innovative cities where energy storage is concerned. Thanks to the Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, becoming self-sufficient in this area has been of top priority. By the end of this year, New York City may have another individual energy storage target for 2030. In that case, there are several questions that need to be answered while working towards this goal.
New York City holds the first ever city-level storage goal which is 100 megawatt-hours by 2020. But with several pilots in place and no firm progress, there are worries that this goal won’t be met. Governor Andrew Cuomo is hesitant to set new goals, thinking that such rules and regulations are not a good incentive for utility companies to champion new ideas and technologies that would make energy storage more accessible. Instead, Cuomo wants to shift the thinking towards a series of business opportunities for the utilities. Using technologies like solar, wind and battery storage is key for this approach.
Lithium-ion batteries were once thought to be the answer to energy storage challenges, but they have been off to a slow start in New York City since there are significant safety concerns surrounding their use. The fire department is currently working on a final policy for introducing the batteries to the metro area. Meanwhile, the clock for New York City’s storage goal of 100Mwh by 2020 continues to run down with no clear plans for how this can be achieved.
With news of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, future extreme weather events are important to consider in these conversations too. Houston was without powerdue to difficulties with the Texas grid, a problem which might have been avoided with the help of supporting microgrids. Hurricane Sandy continues to serve as a reminder and is still a considered topic during grid planning sessions. In an effort to rebuild the grid and protect it from further damage caused by storms, New York has sponsored a major microgrid competition designed to create a backup power source and generate further investment in local demand management alternatives. This competition was the source of the $11 million in funding, with winners set to be announced in October 2018.
Eventually, microgrids will work in unison with electric vehicles, providing a green energy source for cabs and buses as well as private automobiles. Electric vehicles are already on the rise in New York City with 1,000 cars of the government’s fleet already electrified. The city is working on increasing the amount of electric vehicles available for sharing within the city from 1% to 20% by 2025. This surge in new electric vehicles is good news for the utility companies, serving as a new source of revenue.
The decommissioning plan for Indian Point nuclear facility still looms over the city, following plans to close the plant by 2021. It is hoped that the plant will be replaced with renewable sources or energy efficient loads but there are concerns of an energy shortfall which would certainly be a puzzle for grid planners. An official plan is still in the works, but it will be interesting to see whether they can maintain energy volumes while still decreasing overall emissions towards the future goal.
New York’s power supply is a complicated matter with many considerations and areas of difficulty to overcome. Governor Cuomo will undoubtedly face challenges while trying to make progress in this area and also working towards renewable energy and emissions goals. If New York manages to pull it off, a reliable microgrid would help to ensure the future success of this great city.