Industry Experts Featured at CABA Energy Storage Event
by Tim Cronin, Policy Fellow
How can energy storage make our communities more resilient? This was the central theme of “Making Energy Storage Work for Communities,” the latest in our Local Emerging Market Series. The event featured a panel of industry professionals who explored the benefits that energy storage can bring to the broader community, and how we can ensure that increasing investment to emerging technologies is targeted to community resilience.
Moderated by Fran Cummings, VP of Strategic Consulting at the Boston-based energy efficiency consulting company Peregrine Energy Group, the panel featured:
- Mike Berlinski, Director of Emerging Technologies at Customized Energy Solutions
- Daniel Finn-Foley, Senior Analyst with GTM Research
- Johannes P. Pfeifenberger, Principle at The Brattle Group
- Kavita Ravi, Director of Emerging Markets at the MassCEC
Economic & Community Benefits
Technologies like energy storage, renewable energy, and microgrids can not only provide critical power to essential facilities during power outages, but they can provide economic and community benefits year round. Speaking on these benefits, Daniel Finn-Foley commented, “We have seen that in most use cases that [batteries] are cost effective, that they have many positive returns, and that it makes sense to invest in them.”
Recent attention has been paid to the energy storage market underscores and how critically tied it is to the clean energy future of Massachusetts. Storage increases the efficiency of renewable sources like solar and wind, allowing them to store surplus energy. During the event economist Johannes P. Pfeifenberger highlighted this relationship, saying “if we want to get to 80% decarbonization of the economy we need to electrify transportation, home heating, and other areas. Ultimately storage will need to be part of this process if we are going to achieve that goal.”
Storage Potential in Massachusetts
“The moment for storage is now,” explained Kavita Ravi, who spoke on the massive market potential energy storage has in Massachusetts. “Our [State of Charge] study shows that under ideal conditions the state of Massachusetts can actually achieve 1766 MW of energy storage, which is a gigantic number for a state this size.” The State of Charge is a study commissioned as part of the Energy Storage Initiative (ESI) to examine the energy storage landscape in Massachusetts. The study proposes policies intended to increase storage procurement, such as grants and procurement targets.
New State Storage Targets
In July, the state announced an aspirational 200 MW energy storage procurement target it hopes to achieve by 2020. Similar to recommendations made in the State of Charge report, the procurement target is seen as a tool to incentivize innovation in the storage market. “We are confident that with these targets that the market can become like how solar is today in Massachusetts,” said Kavita Ravi of the MassCEC. Despite this optimism, business and industry leaders have expressed serious concerns that the target may be too low to spur meaningful technological innovation. These concerns were expanded on in a previous CABA article on the energy storage procurement targets.
Carbon Pricing: Spurring Innovation
A policy which would further incentivize energy storage innovation is statewide carbon pricing. Carbon pricing is a market-based policy aimed at reducing carbon pollution through a simple fee on carbon emissions that would be rebated back to businesses and consumers at a later time. There are currently two bills before the Massachusetts State House that, if passed, would establish a statewide price on carbon. Carbon pricing would make it cost effective to switch to renewables, which themselves be made more efficient when paired with energy storage devices. Alongside procurement targets, carbon pricing would further incentivize energy storage technologies.
This event is part of CABA’s Local Emerging Market Series in which we focus on specific industries to encourage dialogue within the local industry. Climate Action Business Association has developed a free series of reports,Local Emerging Market Reports (LEMR) to offer a spotlight on what we see as further opportunities for leadership in the transition to a carbon-free economy. Stay tuned for our next event, focusing on business opportunities in the circular economy, on Thursday, October 19th.
About the author: Tim is an economics and politics student at Stonehill College. This past year he had the opportunity to study at Oxford University, exploring global governance, human rights law, and int’l economics. As a senior, Tim will serve as student-body president and continue to fight for sustainable initiatives such as fossil fuel divestment and expanding the college’s solar farm. He has interned at the State House and serves on the board of his local civic association. Tim enjoys reading The Economist, listening to podcasts, and exploring state parks in his free time.