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6 Key Takeaways from the M&A Activity in the Storage Market Panel at the Energy Storage USA Conference

Carl Fleming, a partner in McDermott’s Energy and Project Finance Practice Group and head of its energy storage team, hosted a panel of industry leaders from KKR & Co. Inc., CohnReznick Capital and Pine Gate Renewables that explored the opportunities and challenges currently facing the energy storage market, as well as the future of the market. Below are key takeaways from the discussion:

1. Valuation: The models underlying energy storage projects are complex, consist of a large number of variables and are mainly reliant on third-party data and analytics in an emerging technology. In uncertain times like now, it is critical that storage teams be extremely thorough in their diligence and flexible in their approach to valuations and developing the revenue stack for these projects.

2. Supply Chain Woes: Supply chain issues have altered the outlook of many in the storage sector in 2022. While demand remains robust, the storage sector is facing global supply chain issues (as is the entire industry) and competition within manufacturers as to whether cells will be allocated for storage or electric vehicles (EV). The accelerated growth of the EV market could negatively impact the growth of the storage market—unless suppliers find ways to ramp up production.

3. Buy or Wait: Right now, the cost of modules, cells, commodities and transportation are through the roof. At the same time, the demand for storage is equally high. It remains to be seen whether purchasing storage assets at a time of such volatility will be a winning or losing proposition. Some have speculated that now is the time to buy, while others have suggested staying on the bench for this round. However, based on the higher cost of solar assets from years ago and recent prices for the sale of those assets, it seems sitting out in this market would be a losing proposition.

4. Assets vs. Human Capital: In several transactions, we’re seeing parties more interested in acquiring the human capital and the team behind a platform of assets rather than acquiring the asset solely on its economic merits. The track record and make-up of the development team remains an essential point when buyers are considering the projects they are willing to purchase.

5. Standalone, Hybrid or Conversion: Although certain buyers are targeting a particular area of the energy storage market and standalone storage remains a hot topic, the industry as a whole has ready and willing buyers for all forms of energy storage projects (e.g., standalone storage, storage plus renewable hybrids, storage plus conventional hybrids).

6. Market FOMO: There is a pervasive sense of “FOMO” in the market right now. However, developers and investors need to remain disciplined and stay true to two essential prerequisites for a project to be purchased: line-of-sight on interconnection and line-of-sight on offtake revenues. These can be easy to lose sight of in today’s frothy market and in new markets that have shifting regulatory regimes for storage.

Carl Fleming and his team of energy [...]

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Development Market Outlook in ERCOT

Carl Fleming, a member of McDermott’s Energy and Project Finance Group and head of its Energy Storage Team, hosted a panel of industry leaders from Vistra, UKA North America and Origis that explored the opportunities and challenges for utility-scale solar and standalone energy storage development in the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Here are the key takeaways:

  1. A huge wave of solar and standalone storage projects is hitting ERCOT. Per recent reports, as of September 2021, developers had more than 100GW of solar, 42GW of utility-scale battery storage, 22GW of wind and 13GW of natural gas in the queue.
  2. It’s unclear what the future holds for the market due to transmission congestion, the impact of so much solar going online and its effects on the power price curve, as well as supply chain issues.
  3. Transmission congestion is affecting the ability to deliver power from some of the most resource-rich areas. However, ERCOT remains more predictable than certain other markets that have recently announced temporary pauses in processing the transmission pipeline queue.
  4. The large increase of solar on the system in such a short period of time is already having impacts on the power price curve. However, certain corporates in their efforts to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals are willing to build for more than purely economic reasons and can help offset that volatility to a degree.
  5. Supply chain issues continue and are expected to worsen, resulting in increased risks around projects costs and completion. While this has resulted in a number of developers having to revisit their power purchase agreements, those with robust procurement programs were able to mitigate this risk in advance and have been able to continue business as usual.
  6. The use of quantitative analytics or “quants” in project development is growing and has enabled certain developers to optimize energy storage project location in ERCOT as well as optimize their project outputs. The key, however, is properly integrating the quantitative data into the project development decision making process.

Carl Fleming and his team in Houston are currently leading a large number of solar, wind and storage transactions across ERCOT for leading developers and private equity funds. In particular, they are enabling a number of first-in-kind battery storage transactions utilizing newer technologies and investment strategies.




Key Takeaways | Energy Storage Opportunities and Challenges

What are the opportunities and challenges facing those in the energy storage sector? During the latest webinar in our Energy Transition series, Partner Jim Salerno hosted Perfect Power’s CEO and President Alan Dash and Chief Commercial Officer Douglas Sherman for a 30-minute discussion where they opined on the importance of battery storage and the differences between regulated and unregulated markets within the energy storage industry.


Below are the key takeaways from this discussion:

1. Utility-scale battery storage is necessary for transitioning the grid from fossil fuels to renewables. The surge of renewables across grids has resulted in unpredictability, volatility and intermittency in the energy market, creating a need for a new form of peaking. Batteries are becoming the ideal peaking units as their fast ramping capabilities allow them to adapt to shortfalls in the grid and create stability.

2. Battery storage, unlike renewables, provides capacity as well as ancillary services. This concept is known as “value stacking.” In addition to storage capabilities, ancillary services allow batteries to manage volatility and uncertainty in the grid by providing tools that keep the system in balance and establish the ability to arbitrage the Real Time Market while creating predictability in the Day-Ahead Market.

3. The current regulatory and merchant markets are evolving to facilitate renewables and storage project development. In unregulated markets, such as Texas, the integration of renewables into the grid has grown organically because of the efficiency, speed and economic benefits that are derived from renewables and battery storage. Meanwhile, highly regulated markets, such as California, are focusing on resource adequacy, market certainty and incentives to promote capital investment in the clean energy space—including battery storage.

To access past webinars in this series and to begin receiving Energy updates, including invitations to the webinar series, please click here.




Five Takeaways: Early Moves and Current Trends in Energy Storage

McDermott continues its dialogue with renewable industry leaders to provide the latest market updates on the disruption, challenges and opportunities COVID-19 presents to the industry. This week, we focused on the energy storage market and hosted Chris McKissack, CEO at GlidePath Power Solutions. Glidepath was an early mover in energy storage. GlidePath is now one of the largest energy storage developers and independent power producers in the US, with over 100MW of commercially operating battery projects, 445 MW of battery storage and renewable energy projects, and 2.1 GW of greenfield development pipeline of battery storage projects across the US. We had an engaging discussion spanning the benefits of being an early mover in the storage space, the current state of the dynamic energy storage market, and successful strategies you can use to approach the opportunities and challenges stemming from COVID-19.

1. Batteries Can Now Serve as “Shock Absorbers” for the Grid

Batteries are capable of doing much more than just “energy shifting,” where a developer simply stores energy from a solar project from one time of day and dispatches it onto the grid at another time of day. For instance, we are now able to place stand-alone batteries closer to load than most large-scale wind and solar projects. This provides an opportunity for frequency response and regulation in that it allows grid operators to dispatch generators more efficiently. This is important to today’s market. 60 years ago, we had an unpredictable load, but very predictable generation. You could ramp-up and ramp-down generation by turning a dial. Today, we have more and more intermittent resources and renewables dispatching the grid resulting in more demand response. We now have both unpredictable load and unpredictable generation, making it much more difficult for the operators of the grid to balance the two. There is an opportunity for batteries act like shock absorbers for the grid and keep things stable.

2. Batteries Remain Key to Energy Shifting and Financial Energy Arbitrage

Despite the versatility of batteries, energy shifting remains an important use for batteries, particularly for financial energy arbitrage. Batteries provide an opportunity for load customers to marry their purchase of energy with their load and shape it to a particular financial profile. We see a lot of this usage by datacenters today and this trend will continue.

3. Early Movers in Energy Storage Will Likely Emerge from COVID-19 Even Stronger

The battery energy storage market was poised for a period of sustained growth in 2020 and 2021, but it is unlikely to emerge totally unscathed from COVID-19. According to some forecasts, market growth is now forecast to decline for 2020. The pace of the recovery will depend how quickly the COVID-19 crisis is resolved. However, depending on the agility of the company’s management and the status of the development of its projects going into COVID-19, some battery storage companies may come out of COVID-19 even [...]

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Massachusetts Sets Energy Storage Target

On June 30, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced that Massachusetts would adopt an aspirational 200 megawatt-hour (MWh) energy storage target to be achieved by January 1, 2020. The target is the second largest in the nation, although it is far lower than California’s 1.3 gigawatt storage mandate. Still, Massachusetts’ storage target will make the commonwealth a leader in the burgeoning energy storage field.

The process of setting storage targets began last summer, when Massachusetts enacted a law directing DOER to determine whether to set targets for electric companies to procure energy storage systems by January 1, 2020. In September 2016, Massachusetts released a report called the “State of Charge,” which recommended the installation of 600 megawatts (MW) of energy storage by 2025. The report predicted that 600 MW of storage could capture $800 million in system benefits to Massachusetts ratepayers. The energy storage industry praised the 600 MW level as a good starting point.

DOER’s “aspirational” 200 MWh by 2020 target falls short of the “State of Charge” recommendation, but leaves the door open to achieving 600 MW by 2025. DOER’s letter announcing the target noted that “[s]torage procured under this target will serve as a crucial demonstration phase” for Massachusetts to gain knowledge and experience with storage. “Based on lessons learned from this initial target,” the letter continues, “DOER may determine whether to set additional procurement targets beyond January 1, 2020.”

Beyond DOER’s storage target, Massachusetts has a broader Energy Storage Initiative, which includes a $10 million grant program aimed at piloting energy storage use cases and business models in order to increase commercialization and deployment of storage technologies. DOER also announced that it will examine the benefits of amending the Alternative Portfolio Standards, an incentive program for installing alternative energy systems, to expand the eligibility of energy storage technologies able to participate. While Massachusetts’ storage targets are not as lofty as some in the industry were hoping, the commonwealth is demonstrating a clear commitment to developing its energy storage industry beyond the few megawatts currently installed.




Maryland Likely to Become First State to Adopt Energy Storage Tax Credit

UPDATE: This bill was signed into Maryland law on May 4, 2017 with a $75,000 maximum credit for commercial systems. A previous version of the bill offered credits to commercial systems up to $150,000.

In April, the Maryland legislature passed a bill creating a state income tax credit for the costs associate with installing an energy storage system. Governor Larry Hogan is expected to sign it into law. Unlike measures in other states such as California and Massachusetts, the Maryland bill does not contain mandated amounts of energy storage that utilities must procure. Instead, if the current bill is signed, Maryland will be the first state in the country to incentivize the deployment of energy storage systems by offering a tax credit. Presently, an energy storage system can qualify for the federal investment tax credit if it is installed alongside a solar photovoltaic system. This is the first ever tax credit for storage-only projects, although qualified energy storage systems still may be paired with renewable energy projects.

Under the terms of the bill, a taxpayer will receive a credit equal to 30 percent of the installed costs of the system, not to exceed $5,000 for a residential system or $150,000 for a commercial system. The incentive program has a funding cap of $750,000 per year, and applications for the credit will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, the tax credit may not be carried over for use in future tax years. The tax credit is currently slated to run from 2018 to 2022. (more…)




California Proposes Energy Storage Procurement Requirement

by Melissa Dorn

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently released a proposal that would require the major investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the state to procure approximately 1.3 gigawatts (GWs) of energy storage by 2020.  Consistent with state’s energy storage bill, Assembly Bill 2514, which passed in 2010, the CPUC’s proposal aims to reduce market barriers and incentivize development of viable, cost-effective energy storage methods.  The CPUC hopes that the rapid growth of energy storage in California will support the state’s renewable energy industry as the state seeks to meet the legislature’s mandate to have one third of California’s energy generated from renewable sources by 2020.  Many renewable energy sources are intermittent, making energy storage technologies important for the integration of a large quantity of renewable energy into the existing electric system.

Central to the CPUC’s proposal are biannual procurement targets for the three major IOUs, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. The CPUC’s proposed aggregate procurement targets for each IOU are divided into three different “use cases” based on the end uses of the energy storage:  transmission-connected storage systems, distribution-connected storage systems, and customer-sited storage systems. The initial proposed procurement targets are: 

* The Totals include the additional interim targets for 2016 and 2018 that were intentionally omitted from this table.

To procure third-party owned energy storage to meet the targets, the CPUC proposed a “reverse auction” market mechanism, similar in structure to the state’s existing Renewable Auction Mechanism for renewable power sources. Under a reverse auction, energy storage providers would bid non-negotiable price bids, and the IOUs select projects starting with the lowest cost. The first auction, proposed for June of 2014, will require the IOUs to procure an aggregate 200 MW of storage. Subsequent auctions will be conducted every two years. The procurement targets are subject to change if the IOUs can demonstrate, among other things, that the energy storage resources bid into the reverse auction are not reasonable in cost, are not cost effective, or were insufficiently competitive.

The CPUC anticipates releasing its final order in October of this year.




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