A glimpse of the "infinite scalability" of energy storage, and some other key takeaways from this very exciting utility bid solicitation
By Joe Smyth | firstname.lastname@example.org | @joesmyth
After I posted Xcel Energy’s report showing unprecedented low prices for renewable energy and storage bids, several energy industry experts added some helpful context and analysis of the implications of these bids.
Much of that discussion focused on the low bid prices for projects that would combine renewable energy with energy storage. The Xcel Energy report showed that the median bid price for solar and storage projects was $36/MWh, while the median bid price for wind and storage projects was just $21/MWh. There were also seven bids for combined wind and solar and storage bids, with a median price of $30.60/MWh.
"The numbers in these bids are the lowest prices we have seen for any combination of renewable plus battery storage," said Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage at Green Tech Media.
Matt Gray, Utilities & Power Senior Analyst at Carbon Tracker, added: “Based on our modelling, the median bid for wind plus storage is lower than the operating cost of all coal plants currently in Colorado, while the median solar plus storage bid is lower than 74% of operating coal capacity.”
By Joe Smyth | email@example.com | @joesmyth
Utilities in Colorado are planning to add a lot more renewable energy over the next few years, for a variety of reasons. I’ve looked at a couple of the trends driving this energy transition such as 100% renewable energy commitments from the utilities’ major customers, including towns and cities like Pueblo and Boulder, and major companies like Aspen Skiing Company, Google, Vail Resorts, IBM, Anheuser-Busch, and New Belgium.
But perhaps the biggest reason that utilities in the region are pursuing more renewable energy is that the low costs of wind and solar energy have continued to fall, opening up a huge market: replacement power for existing coal plants.
Cheap renewable energy has already meant that when utilities needed new power generation in recent years, they have mostly chosen renewable energy. Nationwide, wind and solar power represented about two-thirds of all the new electricity generation capacity that was brought online in both 2015 and 2016, according to the US Energy Information Agency.
But as the costs of building new wind and solar projects have kept dropping, renewable energy is now becoming cheaper even than continuing to run existing coal-fired power plants - as Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently noted, “Coal is no longer the low-cost fuel."
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