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Guest: Will Gorman

Will Gorman is a Graduate Student Researcher in the Electricity Markets and Policy Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he focuses on the integration of variable generation into the electric power system and the economics of distributed energy resources. Previously, Will worked with the utilities practice at The Brattle Group, an economic consulting firm, where he focused on wholesale electricity market and retail rate design. He has also held positions with Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy as well as UT Austin’s Webber Energy Group. Will has his Masters in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley and is currently working towards his Ph.D. in the same department.

On Twitter: @whgorman

On the Web:  Will’s page at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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[Episode #122] – Hybrid Power Plants

The days of worrying about the intermittency of solar and wind farms are quickly receding into the past as battery storage systems are added to existing plants, and new renewable plants are increasingly equipped with large battery storage systems from the outset as so-called “hybrid” power plants. In fact, 25% of all new solar PV plants waiting to connect to bulk power systems are now hybrid plants incorporating battery systems, and on the California wholesale power market, 96% of solar PV and 75% of wind projects launched in 2019 were paired with batteries. All at prices that beat the cost of conventional power plants.

But figuring out the best way to deploy utility-scale battery storage systems isn’t just a matter of dispatchability and system balancing. In fact, it turns out that tax credit incentives and market rules are far more significant determinants. That’s one finding of a new research paper led by several researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who modeled various ways of pairing battery storage systems with utility-scale wind and solar farms. In this episode, we explore the details of this modeling with one of the paper’s authors and speculate that it might actually be better to deploy large scale storage systems independently of wind and solar farms, if market rules were more supportive of the strategy.

Geek rating: 8