State government grants totaling $20 million are being handed out Thursday to grow an energy storage market that has the potential to reshape the power landscape and deliver new benefits to ratepayers.
Energy storage can help meet peak demand power requirements, enable the storage of weather-dependent clean energy, provide power during traditional outages, and increase the reliability of the electric grid, officials say. The grants, they say, will facilitate the growth of still-developing storage technologies such as batteries, flywheels, thermal storage and pumped hydroelectric storage.
The 26 projects receiving grants will benefit 25 communities, but officials say the market will lead to benefits for all ratepayers.
The grants include $1.14 million for a UMass Amherst storage system that will double as an educational tool for students; $221,000 for an ice storage system at General Electric's Boston headquarters; $1 million for a Tesla's battery project at the Wynn Boston Harbor casino in Everett; $1 million to Solect Energy for five storage units at the MIT Lincoln Lab campus in Lexington; and $382,000 to WH Bennett for a solar array and storage system at a Vineyard Haven farm.
Gov. Charlie Baker announced the grant recipients at an event in Marlborough where UMass Memorial Marlborough Hospital received a $686,000 award. There were 69 applicants evaluated for the grants.
One of the grant recipients, Borrego Solar Systems Inc., plans to use its $700,000 award at a golf ball manufacturing plant in New Bedford. Under a National Grid application, Tesla proposes an aggregated system of its Powerwall home battery at 500 Nantucket residences, a project that got a $1.25 million grant.
The pilot projects for energy storage represent a quarter of Massachusetts' 200-megawatt-hour grid storage mandated target, set for 2020. The state currently has seven megawatt hours of advanced energy storage installed.
Energy storage could "transform the way we utilize energy resources," according to Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson, who said the 26 projects would provide "a roadmap for how Massachusetts can integrate storage into our diversified energy portfolio to lower overall energy costs, increase grid efficiency by decreasing peak demand, and more effectively utilize our strong clean energy sector."
"We look forward to seeing these and many other energy storage projects come online to demonstrate new business models and bring significant value to Massachusetts through monetary savings, high-priority energy and environmental policy impacts, grid management and resiliency benefits, and economic growth," Northeast Clean Energy Council President Peter Rothstein said in a statement.
With additional reporting from WBUR's Bruce Gellerman
This article was originally published on December 07, 2017.