National Grid using solar + storage project as non-wires alternative

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National Grid, a utility serving more than 20 million people throughout New York and New England, completed a milestone solar + storage project this week. The system, designed, constructed, and operated by Convergent Energy + Power will provide a non-wires-alternative (NWA) in Cicero, New York.

An NWA removes or defers the need to construct or upgrade components of a distribution and/or transmission system. Energy storage is a type of NWA that offers utilities a way to increase capacity on the electric grid by charging the batteries when electricity demand is low and discharging when demand outstrips supply. Convergent’s NWA with National Grid is one of the first pairings of battery energy storage (10 MW/40 MWh) with 15 MWdc of solar energy — and hopefully a sign of much more to come.

Through a competitive bidding process, National Grid selected Convergent to cost-effectively increase capacity at its Pine Grove substation, increasing benefits for customers while increasing the amount of solar energy on the grid. National Grid will utilize the system on peak days to provide seamless reliability to customers served by the substation. During off-peak days, Convergent will participate in the market to provide clean energy for National Grid customers.

The project is part of Convergent’s portfolio of eight solar-plus-storage systems in Central and Upstate New York. The solar-plus-storage system was constructed by CS Energy. GE provided the DC-Coupled energy storage package. Convergent was the first company to develop an NWA for utility infrastructure in the United States. Now, the company is one of the first to develop a solar-plus-storage system providing an NWA.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with National Grid, a leader in implementing technologies that benefit customers, the electric grid, and the planet,” said Frank Genova, Convergent’s Chief Operating and Financial Officer. “Convergent Energy + Power continues to move the energy storage sector—and clean energy transition—forward to address the increasing needs of our customers.”

NY Green Bank, a division of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which invests in clean energy and sustainable infrastructure in New York State, provided the construction-to-term financing for the project. NYSERDA also provided a total of nearly $2.3 million for the project through its NY-Sun Program, the state’s $1.8 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar while driving costs down and making solar energy more accessible to homes, businesses, and communities.

“NY Green Bank is proud to work with Convergent Energy + Power to create a market-based model for construction and term financing for solar-plus-storage projects in New York State,” stated Greg Randolph, Head of Investment and Portfolio Management, NY Green Bank. “We look forward to seeing private investment in this asset class at-scale, which will be critical in building the clean, smart grid of the future.”

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