Storage & Smart Power 2020: A Developer’s Eye View on North America

GlidePath engineering manager Sean Baur spoke with Energy Storage News about progress on the company’s 1.6 GW battery storage pipeline and shared his outlook on what’s next in energy storage. Read GlidePath’s comments below and see the full feature at Energy Storage News.

PV Tech Power: What are some of your most significant accomplishments in 2019, and what were some of the challenges along the way?

Sean Baur: GlidePath added more than 250MW to its portfolio in 2019 – that number includes construction of self-developed storage projects and acquisitions of both storage projects and renewable energy assets that will be paired with storage in the future. GlidePath has also grown its development portfolio to about 1.6GW of similar projects across a variety of markets.

We are seeing a major proliferation of battery OEMs and integrators providing viable products in the space, increasing competition and pressuring the more established firms.

Regulations and fire codes are forcing standardisation across the industry. Battery safety has always been a top priority and we hope it won’t take incidents or negative headlines to keep the industry focused on safety going forward.

What sort of technologies are you using at the moment, and what’s exciting about future technology development and innovations?

We are primarily focused on projects using lithium-ion batteries and are seeing a mix of more established nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) suppliers and newer-to-the market lithium iron phosphate (LFP) OEMs. LFP appears to be well-positioned this year, with more certainty around tariffs – as most of the major players are in China – allowing them to really showcase their price competitiveness and increasingly dependable technical performance.

On a forward-looking basis, we see that integrators are thinking more creatively about [battery] augmentation as project lives are extended and project-owners look for longer performance guarantees. One of the most exciting areas of growth here, also applicable to solar-plus-storage, is the scale-up of DC-DC converter technology. This will be vital as battery systems age and need to be augmented, especially with some of the modular augmentation strategies that we are seeing proposed from suppliers.

We are happy to see more thought around the technical aspects of battery augmentation, and especially the push towards truly agnostic augmentation regimes where the augmentation battery vendor (or even chemistry) can be different than the original installation. This is being promised by some integrators, so we look forward to seeing how this is implemented across power electronics, switching and protection, communications and controls.

What do you expect to see this year and beyond 2020?

We are happy to see serious discussion of the value of limited-energy duration projects to serve in wholesale markets.

We predict that this will be resolved this year for markets such PJM and NYISO, but the actual resolution is harder to predict. What we would like to see is an immediate transition to valuing storage projects at or near their current penetration levels, with a longer-term discussion surrounding the potentially declining ability to supply capacity services as the resource mix on the GlidePath’s Prospect Storage project in Texas looks set to compete in the ERCOT market grid changes over time.

Implementation of fast frequency response in ERCOT is a good step to expanding out the ability of storage projects to provide more ancillary services, not just PJM RegD. This, combined with the Fast AGC developments in MISO, indicate that more market operators are starting to recognise and implement programmes to value the unique capabilities of storage.