Energy storage could effectively put New York City on a transition path away from an aging electric generation fleet to a cleaner grid and achieve the state’s clean energy goals, according to a new report. “New York City’s Aging Power Plants: Risks, Replacement Options and the Role of Energy Storage” was released by the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST), in partnership with Strategen Consulting.
The report shows that deploying battery energy storage, in lieu of the city’s oldest fossil-fueled electric generating units, could reduce ozone-forming pollution by more than 60% and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 75% from those units while cost effectively maintaining grid reliability.
“As the state moves forward to meet its clean energy goals of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, there are increasing questions about how we can best ensure the reliability of the electricity grid while reducing our reliance on fossil-fuel generation,” said Dr. William Acker, Executive Director of NY-BEST. “This study illustrates that replacing these older peaking plants with energy storage presents a cost-effective strategy for reducing harmful air emissions, protecting public health and maintaining grid reliability.”
Within the next five years, 2,860 MW of old steam and combustion turbines – 30% of NYC’s current fleets – will be past retirement age, according to Strategen’s analysis of the New York ISO Gold Book report. There are not enough new projects currently in the advanced stage of development that will be needed to meet the potential shortfall as early as 2021 if these older plants are decommissioned, leaving nearly all of the proposed new projects reliant on fossil energy.
This, in turn, would detract from the state’s climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and achieving the Clean Energy Standard requiring 50% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.
“Many older power plants in New York City don’t have modern pollution controls and contribute significantly to ozone pollution. Our analysis shows that deploying just four hours of energy storage at or near the highest nitrogen-oxide emitting combustion turbine plants may be sufficient to reduce emissions at these plants by up to 66%,” said Ed Burgess, Senior Manager at Strategen Consulting and report author. “Energy storage is one of the few options available for replacing these plants in a short period of time, without increasing reliance on fossil fuels.”
The city’s high levels of ozone pollution are to blame for more than 400 premature deaths, 850 hospitalizations for asthma and 4,500 emergency department visits for asthma each year, according to data by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The current strategies to control NOx emissions from these old peaking plants may be ineffective, according to recent report by the New York ISO. The Strategen report notes that the estimated economic impact from these emissions is more than $62 million annually.
“Over 50% of New York City’s electricity related greenhouse gas emissions likely resulted from fossil power plants located in the city,” states the Strategen report. “For New York to achieve its climate goals, it will need to increase utilization of renewable energy in place of fossil fuels.”
“This report shows that New Yorkers stand to benefit significantly from the deployment of energy storage. Storage appears to be the key ingredient for helping the city transition away from old, polluting fossil fuel power plants and towards a cleaner, more resilient power system,” added Lon Huber, Senior Director at Strategen Consulting.
Energy storage is also an economically viable choice. The Strategen report finds that the city’s electricity customers are spending more than $268 million annually to support these older plants that run for just a few hours each year. A five percent set-aside of this amount could attract investment in more than 450 MW of new energy storage resources over the next five years with very little impact (<1%) in total cost to customers.