By Tina Dornbusch, Associate Director of Product Management
Our team visited the ESA Energy Storage Annual Conference and Expo December 1-3 and, after an eventful year providing controls and energy management systems (EMS) to standalone storage, PV + storage and PV only projects, it was fascinating to have a front-row seat at the industry’s premier annual conference. From an EMS perspective, it was exciting to see how the industry’s focus on controls is developing.
A Focus on Controls
In the early days of the now relatively mature solar industry, there was a general preference for turnkey systems, sourced in a single contract as a fully wrapped system. Over time, developers and IPPs became more comfortable going direct to suppliers for modules, inverters, and other components. We are now seeing the same trend in storage. While they previously tended to contract for turnkey systems through integrators, IPPs are now negotiating directly with battery suppliers – and controls suppliers, too.
Because of this development, we are seeing huge opportunities in storage, particularly as the industry searches for ways to get creative with storage to meet decarbonization goals. While solar power plant controls are more mature in their development and usage, storage controls require creative solutions to complex challenges.
For example, in the storage sector, it is critical to understand a battery’s state of charge, which is very different from controls for a generation source like solar. Discharging – how, when, and for how long – will have an impact on the plant’s life and functionality. As a result, storage projects value controls in ways that are different and often more critical than for stand-alone solar projects.
Overall, no matter the project – whether solar + storage or standalone storage – we are seeing a greater recognition from developers and owners that controls are a critically important part of the entire project. And as a result, we are seeing many more IPPs engage with us directly, rather than rely on an integrator. We anticipate this trend will accelerate in 2022.
Energy Management Controls
Merit Controls is excited to continue our work as an energy management controls provider. We have a meaningful track record with standalone storage, PV + storage, and PV only projects with complex controls challenges. In the storage environment, we are enabling a host of new capabilities beyond just storing energy for delivery later, including ancillary services and economic dispatch.
In 2022 and beyond, solar + storage projects will be the norm. And with supply chain-led consolidation in the industry, there are many projects vying for batteries, controls, and management. Developing equipment standards, including for SCADA, PPC, and controls, are allowing IPPs to eliminate integrators and buy batteries, inverters, and controls directly to self-integrate their projects.
The Merit Controls Approach
Merit Controls has developed a vendor-neutral open architecture that works with myriad assets and is proven at utility-scale. Today, our offerings support more than 4GW of solar and battery storage, working with notable leaders such as Enel Green Power, NovaSource Power Systems and Borrego. In addition, our deep modeling knowledge and expertise helps with energy storage modeling for both distribution planning and interconnection submissions.
We are setting the standard in grid integration products and services. We provide advanced, proven grid integration products and services for utility power generation, all in one platform. To learn more about how we work with EPCs, developers and power plant owners to deploy solar + storage at utility scale, contact us today.