August 12, 2021

In Today’s Heat Wave, Renewable Energy and Storage Can Meet Peak Electricity Demands

During this heat wave, New England has been burning dirty and costly coal and oil around the clock each day to generate electricity at peak hours. This is no longer necessary today as we can use technologies like energy storage, wind and solar to satisfy peak demand with no pollution and at a lower cost.

Recent wholesale electricity auctions have shown that battery energy storage is among the least cost of new resource technologies – which is a win for consumers. With the abundant sunshine during the hot spell, we would expect the over 4000 megawatts of solar installed in New England to be a strong contributor towards meeting our energy demand.

Coal and oil fueled power plants are inflexible so when they turn on to be available to meet peak demand for a few hours in the early evening, they must run for many more hours than just the peak hours because, like a charcoal grill, it takes them many hours reach peak output and then slowly ramp down over many hours after they’re no longer needed.

The region started today with coal already producing 205 MW at midnight, when its electricity was not needed, as it was sitting there running at its minimum output level so it’s on and ready to ramp up during the late day peak. Similarly, oil was already running at 171 MW at midnight. Imagine having to idle your car all night so it will work in the morning when you need it.

Massachusetts and Connecticut have existing laws that authorize public agencies to deploy large-scale energy storage, which when paired with added renewable energy sources, will allow our region to stop using the dirtiest and most costly generators, most of which are located in environmental justice communities. States must use these laws to turn on the page on using coal and oil to meet electricity demand at peak periods.

“We do not need to use dirty power plants to meet the region’s peak electrical needs if we move quickly to add and deploy energy storage paired with renewable energy in Massachusetts and Connecticut,” said Francis Pullaro, executive director, RENEW Northeast. “The recent climate study by the UN demonstrated we must act now. Massachusetts and Connecticut have been renewable energy leaders and RENEW and its members urge both states to act quickly to procure renewable energy storage.”

RENEW Northeast is a non-profit association uniting the renewable energy industry and environmental advocates whose mission involves coordinating the ideas and resources of its members with the goal of increasing environmentally sustainable energy generation in the Northeast from the region’s abundant, indigenous renewable resources.

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