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Storage seen as critical to Michigan's energy future

Solar panel harness energy of the sun.A new report commissioned by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) draws a roadmap for increased energy storage capacity in Michigan. More storage enables greater use of renewable electricity, electrification of transportation and buildings, and improved electrical grid reliability, including power flowing both to and from the grid.

The Energy Storage Roadmap for Michigan, produced by the Michigan-based Institute for Energy Innovation in partnership with the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, consulting firm 5 Lakes Energy, and Michigan State University Prof. Annick Anctil, outlines a path toward retirement of fossil fuel plants and investments by utilities in renewable energy. Adopting the roadmap would make Michigan the 10th U.S. state to spell out goals, including the following energy storage capacity targets:

  • 1,000 megawatts (MW) by 2025.
  • 2,500 MW by 2030.
  • 4,000 MW by 2040.

A megawatt, or 1 million watts, is roughly the amount of electricity needed to run central air conditioning for 250 midsized homes. The targets are for "front of the meter" (FTM) storage - power that suppliers can feed into the electrical grid to be transmitted to customers. Storage capacity is based on four hours of usage, so the 4,000 MW target represents 16,000 megawatt-hours of total capacity. The report's authors view that as the minimum capacity required to meet Michigan's renewable energy goals through 2040.

EGLE called for the report in 2020, "to determine energy storage potential in Michigan and develop recommendations to inform investment and policies regarding energy storage." It outlines short- and long-term executive, regulatory, and legislative policy recommendations. These include establishing funding mechanisms for storage projects, and changing rate structures to factor in the flow of electricity to and from storage systems based on demand.

The report also calls for added "behind the meter" (BTM) capacity, or storage of already metered electricity by onsite users, such as households or businesses, along with a study to quantify the benefits storage can provide. Public buildings could add BTM systems to lead by example.

The cost of energy storage systems continues to decline as batteries and related technology improves. Policymakers, regulators, utilities, developers, and customers are increasingly focusing on the role of storage systems in a modernized power grid. The report also notes that energy storage and related electric mobility industries represent economic and job growth opportunities.

Caption: Solar panel harness energy of the sun.

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