Broad Reach Power, a US-based independent power producer, has only been in business about a year but is already involved in more than $100 million worth of renewable energy projects. Steve Vavrik, managing partner and CEO of the company, tells Energy Storage News it plans to build 15 small scale battery storage projects in Texas this year and two larger systems in 2021.
The first systems will all be 9.95 MW/9,95 MWh systems. That’s because such small systems are exempt from many of the interconnection rules put in place by ERCOT, the grid operator for the Lone Star state. It manages electricity on the Texas Interconnection for 25 million customers, representing 90% of the electric load in Texas. “We are eager to get these projects operating and chose this path,” Vavrik says. “One-hour duration systems were the best choice economically.”
The smaller systems will provide energy stabilization services, such as mitigating the impact of price spikes and dips that expose generators, utilities, and retail electric providers “to uncertainty in the supply-demand matching that occurs every minute on the power grid. Our storage systems can offer ways to mitigate that risk through short and long term contracts, either physical or financial.”
A ‘Texas-scale’ opportunity
Texas is becoming a US manufacturing hub, with companies like Tesla exploring the possibility of building new factories there. Industrial and manufacturing companies need an electrical grid that is “cheap, clean and reliable,” Vavrik says. The more all three of those factors can be improved, the more manufacturing and industry will be attracted to Texas. Which is where the larger 100 MW/100 MWh storage batteries planned for next year come into play.
“The need for reliability services in Texas is Texas-scale! While we chose the smaller sites for speed-to-market, we are also developing the larger projects,” Vavrik adds. Those larger batteries are expected to go into service in the summer of 2021. With battery system costs rapidly decreasing and system performance increasing, Vavrik says Broad Reach Power sees its developments this year and next as “the start of a virtuous cycle.”
“More storage allows more low-cost wind and solar to enter the grid, which will improve the emissions and lower the power costs overall. Then cheaper and better storage systems can be added, which will allow further additions of cheaper generation technology.”
Texas is becoming a renewable energy center in the US. It has been a leader in wind power for years, especially in West Texas where winds are consistently strong, but solar power is rapidly catching up. Broad Reach Power seems to have positioned itself to be right in the sweet spot of a rapidly expanding market.