Illinois drops microgrids from final jobs bill
Illinois lawmakers cut Commonwealth Edison’s microgrids from the final version of the Future Energy Jobs Bill passed Dec. 1 (Senate Bill 2814).
The fate of the microgrids had grown increasingly dim over the last 10 days as dealmakers sought ways to decrease costs of the legislation.
In addition to the microgrids, the bill contained a range of energy provisions, but focused largely on salvaging two nuclear power plants that have been bleeding $800 million in losses over six years.
As talks wore on, the number of microgrids fell from five to three, then one, and then none.
The original bill had allowed the utility to recover $250 million for five microgrids proposed by the Exelon subsidiary.
The utility has yet to announce how the lack of legislative support will affect its microgrid development plans.
The bill now heads to Governor Bruce Rauner for signature.
Microgrid bankability rising
Microgrid bankability is on the rise as costs drop for renewable power and energy storage, and microgrid controllers grow in sophistication, according to Frost & Sullivan’s Energy team.
“Tying together decentralized power production through the use of microgrid control systems, energy storage, and smart technologies allows the efficient management of growing decentralized power production volatility without substantial investments into transmission upgrades and extensions,” said Ross Bruton, a senior industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan Energy & Environment.
He noted that players across diverse sectors are swiftly entering the microgrid market with proprietary solutions for installation and management of distributed energy resources and storage. Consolidation of these efforts – and greater project standardization — will help carry the microgrid market into broad-based commercialization, according to Bruton.
North America now accounts for almost half of the global microgrid market. Most of the activity is in the United States. The Asia-Pacific market comes in second, largely because of electrification efforts in India and China, island grids in Indonesia, and industrial microgrids in Australia.
The European Union, with the most secure electricity grids and highest penetration of smart grid technology, shows a limited need for islandable microgrid systems and is instead expected to represent a leading market for virtual power plants, according to Frost & Sullivan.
Frost & Sullivan has published a report, Growing Opportunity in the Global Microgrid Market, downloadable for a charge.
Tangent closes on $101M in distributed energy contracts
Tangent Energy Solutions says its closed on $101 million distributed energy contracts during the second half of 2016, and in November closed project financing agreements from Generate Capital and Constant Energy Capital totaling $90 million.
DER projects closed in the second half of 2016 included a major solar installation and contracts for edgeGEN natural gas generators. edgeGEN is a new offering that combines Cummins natural gas generators with Tangent AMP, a proprietary distributed energy resource management system. The financing raised will be used to develop both current and future DER projects.
“In the coming years, behind-the-meter natural gas generation will be a critical component of a cleaner and more decentralized energy industry,” said Catherine York Powers, managing director and CEO, Constant Energy Capital. “edgeGEN is a great example of the cooperation and innovation needed between established energy industry resources and new technologies to unlock the full potential of distributed energy resources.”
DER gensets account for 40 percent of the average microgrid generation capacity, according to Navigant Research, noting that the gensets dispatch quickly and can have the cheapest levelized cost of energy among distributed generation sources.