Panel Paper: An Open Model for Energy Storage Study: Energy Storage Options for North Carolina

Saturday, November 9, 2019
Plaza Building: Lobby Level, Director's Row J (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Christopher Galik, North Carolina State University and Stephen Kalland, NC Clean Energy Technology Center

This paper provides an overview of the process, conclusions, and post-study policy implications of the North Carolina study (DeCarolis et al., 2018). An emphasis is devoted to describing the process and outcomes of stakeholder involvement. Emphasis is likewise given to describing team efforts to make data, assumptions, and analytical tools available for use by the public both during the study and after study completion.

Like many states, North Carolina’s power sector faces a rapidly increasing penetration of renewable energy as well as economic and environmental pressures to decrease coal-fired electricity production (Nelson and Liu, 2018). North Carolina House Bill 589, passed in the summer of 2017, tasked the NC Policy Collaboratory with producing a report on the value of energy storage to NC consumers. Over the course of 2018, a multi-disciplinary group of faculty and students from North Carolina State and North Carolina Central Universities analyzed the potential value of energy storage to North Carolina consumers. A secondary objective of the study process was transparency, to make the underlying models and data publicly available, where possible, in an effort to promote further discussion and deliberation among stakeholders.

Guided by a definition of energy storage developed through stakeholder input in the study itself, the study team quantitatively analyzed the cost and performance of several storage technologies. For others, where adequate data was not publicly available or accessible to the team through corporate non-disclosure agreements, services and technologies were assessed qualitatively. To comply with the legislative mandate to offer “recommendations for policy changes that may be considered to address a statewide coordinated energy storage policy”, the study concluded with a review of energy storage policies in other states, offering a menu of potential policy options as a starting point for further deliberations between stakeholders and decision-makers. In doing so, the study implicitly adopted an honest broker posture (e.g., Pielke 2007), grouping options by policy objective but making no judgments about the relative merits of one approach versus another.

The paper concludes with an assessment of the policy and research implications of the study. Subsequent to the study’s release, members of the study team have been requested to brief legislative and executive branch staff and decision-makers on findings of the study. The conclusions of the study have likewise been incorporated into legislative language recently introduced in the NC General Assembly. While there may be future opportunities for applied research to supplement this first round of analysis, questions remain as to the future opportunities for academic research, however.

DeCarolis, J., Dulaney, K., Fell, H., Galik, C., Johnson, J., Kalland, S., Lu, N. … Tang, W. (2018). Energy Storage Options for North Carolina. Report prepared for the Energy Policy Council, Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy, Raleigh, NC.

Nelson, W., and S. Liu. (2018). “Half of U.S. Coal Fleet on Shaky Economic Footing: Coal Plant Operating Margins Nationwide.” Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Pielke Jr, R. A. (2007). The honest broker: making sense of science in policy and politics. Cambridge University Press.