States finally recognize unique capabilities of solar + storage systems in interconnection planning

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Blue Planet Energy solar + storage installation.

The solar + storage industry is evolving rapidly as new technologies and capabilities enter the market. Meanwhile, the bureaucracy that regulates how these systems interconnect to the grid typically lags far behind. But some standout states are finally making great strides to catch up.

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) Interconnect modernization all over the country. Most recently, the group and New He worked jointly with the Mexican Public Regulatory Commission (NMPRC) to deliver a ruling on the most progressive new interconnection in the country.

One of the breakthroughs in the New Mexico ruling was the establishment of special considerations for energy storage interconnections. Previous regulations did not mention energy storage, so utilities will either reject solar + storage projects that do not export energy, or batteries that export power entirely to the grid, like solar arrays. I came to study like

“They are usually designed to charge from solar and discharge in the evening, but the utility default is to study. [batteries] As if they were exporting at the same time, it would greatly increase the potential grid impact,” said Sky Stanfield, an IREC attorney and partner at the law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger. rice field.

IREC and its partners have therefore set out to provide utility companies with the information they need to study energy storage projects differently given the battery’s ability to limit energy exports to the grid. bottom. These “limited exports” are made possible by a UL recognized power control system that can be programmed based on settings established by the utility. IREC brought the research with the support of the Energy Department. BATRIES (Building a Technically Reliable Interconnect Evolution for Storage) Report To the New Mexico State Proceedings to Develop These New Evaluations or “Screens” for Energy Storage Interconnects.

“It gives utilities confidence that these are safe and reliable means and that they are properly screening the project in the screening process,” says Stanfield.

The New Mexico ruling states:Inadvertent exportAccording to IREC, storage interconnection plans should prevent power from being unintentionally exported from distributed energy resources when the load suddenly drops before the power control system responds to a signal to limit or stop exports. means to deal with

“New Mexico is the first state to adopt that screen. We think the process needs to be clarified,” Stanfield said.

The state also IEEE1547 Standard for new projects from Spring 2023 onwards. smart inverter It can make autonomous decisions to keep the grid stable as more distributed resources come online and as grid voltage and frequency fluctuate. Each power company sets its own smart inverter technical interconnection and interoperability requirements to ensure they are in sync with the needs of the grid, but must align with NMPRC rulings.

In addition to new considerations regarding batteries and inverters, the New Mexico ruling seeks to expedite the interconnection process. Applicants can now make limited changes to their applications to correct problems encountered in the research process without being sent to the back of the interconnection queue. This should be especially useful for developers working with utilities that don’t provide much up-front information about the state of the grid.

“Without a very detailed hosting capacity map, we can’t know this upfront. So the screening and research process is a little more interactive between the customer and the utility,” says Stanfield. says.

New Mexico isn’t the only state pursuing more efficient and accurate research into interconnecting solar and energy storage systems. New York, Maryland, Massachusetts Other companies have already implemented or are beginning to work on integrating energy storage with smart inverters. But those states can look to the Southwest for an overall roadmap for an interconnection overhaul.

“There’s so much variety in each issue. It’s hard to say that one state has it all. That’s why I think we’re excited about what New Mexico’s rules are.” “They didn’t backtrack here just by doing a little bit better here. They tried to go ahead and do a comprehensive update.”

This story is part of SPW’s 2023 Solar Trends.Read all this year’s trends here.

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