North American Utilities and Defense Show Appetite for Energy Storage and Solar

energy storage

A new study out today shows utility companies in North America zeroed in on two sectors last year: advanced energy storage and solar. Analysts at research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance tracked 52 clean energy requests for proposals (RFPs) in 2014, and found that solar dominated the field with more than 27 RFPs, and that Western states sought the most capacity.

The White Paper, available here, draws on analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s database of North American clean energy RFPs. Among the most interesting trends:

• Solar dominated the market, both in capacity (1.8GW) and quantity (27 RFPs). There was also a significant amount of interest (at least 12 RFPs) in energy smart technologies, particularly energy storage.
• Western states represented the biggest region for RFPs, with 1GW being requested. The Southeast was the second-largest region in terms of capacity requested, almost all of it solar.
• Wisconsin-based Alliant made the biggest splash in capacity sought with a single RFP. Collectively, the US armed forces issued seven RFPs.

“The data reveals particularly strong interest in energy storage,” said Will Nelson, head of analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in North America. “Interestingly, most storage RFPs are looking for a relatively small amount of capacity, evidence that these may be initial experimental forays into a rapidly changing sector.”

RFPs are a leading indicator for trends in the utility industry because they are solicitations issued by companies to potential vendors. The issuers of RFPs specify the products or services they are seeking; in response, bidders submit proposals, competing against each other on the basis of pricing, capabilities, and other factors. In the world of clean energy, RFPs could involve procurement for renewable electricity-generating capacity or for technologies to make the grid more flexible or resilient.

“For project sponsors and equipment vendors, RFPs are the lifeblood of their business development efforts,” said Mark Taylor, product manager for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “They also give an early but concrete glimpse into which sectors are catching the eye of the market, and about the strategic direction of utilities and other energy-consuming organizations.”

The White Paper also looks at three RFPs that are currently ‘open’ (ie, accepting submissions) and provides a ‘first take’ on what it make take to succeed in each case. The three RFPs pertain to renewable energy in Ontario, to storage in California, and to solar in Texas.

The full White Paper is available here.