Sterling MA Launches Utility Scale Battery Project

Posted by Ed Burke on Nov 21, 2016 3:00:00 PM

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The Sterling Municipal Light Department in Sterling MA is building the first utility scale battery storage system project in Massachusetts. It's  not only the first in Mass, its also the largest in New England -a 2-megawatt, 3.9 megawatt-hour battery storage system to be exact. Its kind of a big deal!

The system is designed to boost grid resiliency - it will allow the town to be able to "isolate" from the grid and provide up to 12 days of backup power for the police and dispatch center.

Sterling has jumped on with the Governor and the state initiative to embrace energy storage as a comprehensive part of cleaner energy solutions. Sterling has been developing a well balanced energy portfolio, including aggressively installing PV solar in recent years and is currently 7th in the nation in installed PV per capita, so a large scale energy storage project like the one underway makes sense for the town. It should also serve as a fantastic "pilot program" of sorts for other communities looking to launch similar projects.

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy Magazine that goes into more detail about the project, the goals, and the role the state and US Departments of Energy would like to see the project play in moving the country forward on energy storage, especially as it relates to renewables. You can read that article here: "Building New England's Largest Energy Storage Project" 

(For some background on energy storage battery technology, and why its so important for utilities, you can also read: "Persuing the Holy Grails of Battery Tech" )

I look forward to following the project and updating about its success. Congratulations, Sterling MA, on being pioneers in the future of energy in Massachusetts!

  

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Topics: Mass DOER, renewable energy, battery

Battery Tech Advances Could Change U.S. Energy Storage Outlook

Posted by Ed Burke on Apr 14, 2016 2:00:00 PM

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Batteries had a great year in 2015 - with costs going down and large scale installations occuring, primarily in the utility sector. The United States energy storage capacity grew by 221 megawatts in 2015, which is triple the capacity added in 2014.

Batteries serve to bridge the gap between renewables like wind and solar and the grid. Wind and solar are both intermittent in terms of power generation, and battery storage technology is a necessary to ensure power is available when its needed versus when it happens to be generated. 

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy magazine going into depth on new developments in battery technology and what the future holds in terms of the goals of cutting edge developments at MIT, Harvard, and the Department of Energy. You can read that article here: Oil & Energy Magazine: "Persuing the Holy Grail of Battery Tech"

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Topics: Solar Energy, renewable energy, energy storage

Renewables in 2015 & 2016

Posted by Ed Burke on Mar 11, 2016 1:30:00 PM

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2015 was a banner year for Renewables. The EPA finally finalized RFS volumes for 2014-2016 in November. In December, Congress passed the tax extenders package which included both the $1 per gallon biodiesel blender credit and cellulosic blending credit of $1.01 per gallon, retroactively.

We also saw the Paris Climate Change Summit in November (Here's a quick recap of where we were then in terms of Climate Change regulations). The Summit saw 190 countries agree to Climate Change resolutions and almost univerally agreeing that each country would lower its carbon emissions.

2015 saw increases in renewable fuels use essentially across the board, and 2016 projections are optimistic on growth. I wrote an article for Oil & Energy's March issue that goes into depth on current levels, projections, and how the renewables mix looks like it will shake out through 2016. You can read that article here: Oil & Energy: "Renewables are Changing the Energy Mix"

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Topics: Biodiesel, EPA, renewable energy

RFS Volumes Finally Finalized

Posted by Ed Burke on Jan 8, 2016 11:36:12 AM

Corn kernels in a container labeled, Biofuel

As of November, the EPA finally released its final renewable volume obligations for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The volumes set are lower than those mandated by Congress in the initial Renewable Fuel Standard, after the EPA took into account a drop in fuel & gasoline demand and usage over the past several years (as compared to the demand and usage projected in 2007). The final volume for 2016 is 18.11 billion gallons, versus the Congressional volume of 22.25 billion gallons.

There were over 600 thousand comments on the proposal before it was finalized, and the feelings on the results are mixed, to put it mildly.

Ag farmers and biofuel industry players had argued the EPA had to stick to the original mandated volumes. Livestock farmers and food producers had argued for the mandate to be scrapped in its entirety, citing the impact it has had on pushing the cost of food and food production skywards. The oil industry fell somewhere in the middle, arguing the EPA ought to use its waiver to greatly reduce volumes to reflect lower fuel usage, the essential lack of cellulosic renewables, and concerns that high mandated volumes of ethanol would force the blend wall issue.

I wrote an in depth piece on the EPA's final ruling for Oil & Energy Magazine - you can read it in full here: "EPA Finalizes RFS Obligations"

 

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Topics: Ethanol, Biofuels, RFS, renewable energy

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