Regulators Push Energy Storage for Solar Farms

Pairing energy storage with solar power generation is not just a good idea, it could influence whether a project receives regulatory approval. Solar developer BrightSource Energy and utility Southern California Edison are finding this out as they face potential rejection for two of their five projects that lack the energy storage component.

The staff of California Public Utilities Commission is recommending a “no” vote for two power purchase agreements in which SCE will buy power from BrightSource’s yet-to-be-built Rio Mesa solar project.

The commission staff said in the report that storage is a “unique attribute” that “decreases renewable integration risk and provides more value to ratepayers.” California utilities are under mandates to increase the amount of renewable energy they serve to their customers, and they are turning to solar and wind energy to meet the requirements.

BrightSource isn’t alone in finding out the necessity of offering storage to attract utility customers. Areva Solar told me a few months ago that it had finally decided on using molten salt for storage for its power plants.

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