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CERAWeek Conversations: The symbiotic relationship of solar energy and storage

30 August 2021 IHS Markit Energy Expert

Battery storage technology continues to advance, and its coordination with solar energy is on the rise for the largest power systems as well as for residential use.

Cormac Gilligan, Associate Director, Solar and Energy Storage, for IHS Markit spoke with three leaders in the energy industry recently about the growing symbiotic relationship between solar and energy storage in a CERAWeek conversation. (The entire discussion can be seen here.)

"The ability of these technologies to compete with traditional energy forms is quite incredible," Gilligan said. "At the same time, the customer base is getting more demanding—they want cheaper, better, faster…. And increasingly, we're seeing new types of customers: the corporates, grid operators, and even homeowners."

On the corporate customer side, Leonardo Moreno, president of independent power producer AES Clean Energy, pointed to a deal his company made with Google. "This year we announced a first-of-its-kind transaction with Google to provide [clean] energy 24/7 to them," Moreno said. "It's the first time any customer asked, and the first time anybody has provided it. Solar, wind, and storage are providing a solution that is carbon-free every hour of the year."

Pumped storage hydro currently is the most common long-duration or multi-day storage source, but batteries will have to be the solution in the future, given the scale of the need, said Matteo Jaramillo, CEO of Form Energy, a developer of next-generation storage batteries. "This is the largest opportunity and biggest problem to solve. And it is not 10 or 15 years down the line, but there are plenty of opportunities … out there today," he said.

The need for storage to complement solar will become more prominent as natural gas, which has been displacing coal because it reduces carbon emissions, also comes under scrutiny for its carbon footprint, Jaramillo said.

On the residential side, Michael Grasso, executive vice president, chief marketing officer, and growth officer for Sunnova, said the company's residential panel business is being transformed by the availability of small battery storage devices. "We are seeing the drive to resiliency being amplified by the fact that so many of us are working out of our homes, and our customers want those to be more resilient to protect their families and their enterprises," he said.

CERAWeek Conversations summary by Kevin Adler, Net-Zero Business Daily.

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