New York’s now poised to go big on energy storage

A clean grid will need a lot of batteries to balance out the ups and downs of solar and wind power. Today, those batteries tend to come in two forms. The first is utility-scale battery farms that take up acres of land and cost up to hundreds of millions of dollars. The second is lots of little batteries tucked into garages and basements that can provide backup power when needed, plus share some of their stored energy with the grid at large.

Startup NineDot Energy is working on a third, medium-sized option — ​“community-scale battery storage” projects that can fit into less than an acre of open land or building space. The company’s first target: the crowded urban landscape of New York City, where utility-scale batteries are hard to build and batteries inside buildings are hard to finance.

This month, NineDot Energy raised $225 million in equity capital from new investor Manulife Investment Management and previous investor Carlyle, the private-equity firm that provided the startup with $100 million in financing in early 2022. NineDot used that initial tranche of funding to build its first project, a 3-megawatt/12-megawatt-hour battery and solar installation built on a 7,500-square-foot former parking lot in the Pelham Gardens neighborhood of the Bronx.

Behind a fence decorated with a mural designed by students of a nearby elementary school, four Tesla Megapacks hum away. Their job is to store electricity from utility Con Edison’s power grid when it’s plentiful, usually overnight, and then discharge it when the utility needs it to meet peak customer demand or keep the grid running during extreme weather or other emergencies.

With its new funding in hand, along with $85 million in construction debt financing from CIT and SMBC and a $25 million credit facility from the New York state’s NY Green Bank, NineDot has roughly $400 million in capital. It has about 30 projects in planning or construction across New York City, including one now being built on Staten Island. The company hopes to have 400 megawatts, or 1.6 gigawatt-hours, of projects under development by 2026.

That exceeds the 322 megawatts of grid batteries deployed in New York state today, and it would bring the state closer to meeting the goal that Governor Kathy Hochul set in late 2022 of having 6,000 megawatts’ worth of energy storage by 2030. That target is an important component of the state’s landmark 2019 climate bill, which aims to reach 70 percent renewable energy by 2030.

So far, New York’s large-scale battery market has failed to take off, however, with project developers unable to make the economics work under unfavorable utility contract terms. State policymakers have recently instituted a new Index Storage Credit structure for large-scale batteries that could provide more financial certainty to goose the deployment of 3 gigawatts, or 12 gigawatt-hours, of projects through 2030.

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Hmmm. I remember talking office buildings with empty cores they can’t use for some zoning reason or another.

Tall buildings. Empty cores.

I see gravity batteries in New York’s future, maybe.

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EMF

You can not have pacemakers near that.

Not sure I’d want to be that close.

EMF can be shielded for people with pacemakers and for many other sensitive elecronics.

Interesting.

Is a microwave in a faraday cage?