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New York Power Authority to Push Bulk-scale Battery Storage Projects

Locations of NYPA's Small Clean Power Plants; Image Credits: nypa.gov

A comprehensive approach is needed for New York City to meet its clean energy targets including battery storage and innovative adaptation of its current infrastructure. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has recently issued a Request for Proposals for the potential use of its small clean power plant sites and related electric infrastructure for the development of bulk-scale battery storage projects.

The decision came after a result stating that the small clean power plants (SCPPs) in New York City could start the transition to low or zero carbon emission technologies in advance of NYPA’s VISION2030 goal of decarbonisation by 2035 and the target of the New York State of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040.

According to NYPA Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll, as the state moves forward with offshore wind, solar, and transmission projects that will bring more clean energy to New York City, NYPA is encouraged by the modelling and forecasting in this collaborative study, which may be able to accelerate the transition to a cleaner energy technology within city plants, ensuring that the city’s energy system remains reliable and resilient.

Recognised as “peaker plants” to be used at times of ‘peak’ electricity demand was installed by the NYPA at six locations in New York City and one on Long Island. They operate seldom for about 10% of the time, in recent years, when directed to do so to meet energy demands in order to provide local reliability and resiliency.

The study that focused solely on NYPA’s in-city peaker plants has key findings that resulted to:

First, each small clean power plant site presents the potential for adaption solutions, including full or near-full replacement with battery storage by 2030, based on features and battery density assumptions.

Second, as electrification demands rise and New York moves toward a carbon-free system by 2040, a system-wide dependability requirement is envisaged, which will necessitate energy resources capable of longer dispatch durations than batteries alone can provide.

Third, the frequency and duration of run-times at NYPA’s small clean power plants would make full replacement with battery storage impossible based on historical output levels; however, by 2030, the frequency and duration of the plants’ run-times are projected to decline, allowing for full replacement with 4-hour battery storage at each individual site.

The fourth finding, there may be potential to further displace higher-emitting fossil production, resulting in large reductions in local NOx emissions, under a more ambitious view of decarbonisation in New York City, as shown in an Alternative Scenario; and the last finding was the fossil-fired power in New York City is expected to fall dramatically as New York State adds additional renewable energy, energy storage, and transmission resources to achieve the Climate Act’s goals.

The findings of this study are based on assumptions in production cost modelling, such as future build-out and integration of more renewable resources, as well as future transmission and distribution expansion and modernisation.

While the study’s findings suggest that energy storage has a bright future, they also suggest that as more electrification drives up electricity demand, the system-wide energy demand during periods of low renewable output will require perfect capacity (on-demand, reliable, and without duration constraints) energy resources or longer duration storage technologies to fill the gap and avoid reliability issues beyond 2030.

NYPA commissioned the study in collaboration with the PEAK Coalition to look into clean energy possibilities for decarbonising NYPA’s peaker units.

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