Calling it a “historic breakthrough” for clean, distributed energy, Sunrun Inc. has won a bid to deliver home solar and batteries as a source of energy capacity to grid operator ISO New England.
Sunrun’s participation in New England’s capacity market is the first time in the U.S. that home solar and battery storage has directly participated alongside centralized power plants in a wholesale capacity market, the company claims.
According to Sunrun, this signals a transformational shift away from the traditional, centralized electricity model – with big power plants – toward a system powered by local clean energy.
Sunrun won its bid to provide 20 MW of energy capacity from its Brightbox home solar and battery systems to ISO New England beginning in 2022, which represents approximately 5,000 New England customers.
“This is a breakthrough moment,” says Lynn Jurich, CEO and co-founder of Sunrun. “Sunrun is able to deliver clean and reliable electricity to customers at a lower cost than traditional central generation and provide this resource to the wholesale capacity market.
“This new energy services model is a win-win for everyone,” Jurich continues. “We’re creating a new, cleaner, more affordable and resilient electricity system – powered by local home solar and batteries – for the benefit of all New Englanders.”
Sunrun says its Brightbox home solar and battery system can power homes day and night with clean energy and provide backup power in the event of a grid outage. Brightbox can also deliver power to homes at times when demand for electricity is at its highest, reducing the need to fire power plants at peak times.
“Winning a bid in a forward capacity market [FCM] validates the ability of home solar and battery storage to bring the benefits of clean, renewable energy to New England residents and throughout the country,” says Audrey Lee, head of energy services at Sunrun.
In 2016, Sunrun and National Grid’s unregulated business entered a partnership that includes a jointly staffed collaboration to develop grid services with Sunrun’s solar and storage assets.
“Today’s announcement points to the success of our ongoing collaboration with Sunrun,” notes Daniel Westerman, president of distributed energy and renewables at National Grid. “ISO New England is the first [regional transmission operator] to enable participation for hybrid resources, which truly unlocks a future for a renewables-powered grid. ISO-NE’s thorough vetting process is a high bar to cross for Sunrun, and we’re excited that our team helped make this happen.”
Through its capacity auction, ISO New England awards the lowest-cost energy generators with commitments to supply electricity across six New England States. The grid operator says its annual capacity auction concluded with sufficient resources to meet peak demand in 2022-2023.
Resources totaling 43,641 MW, including 34,925 MW of existing capacity and 238 new resources totaling 8,716 MW, qualified to participate in the FCM, while the regional capacity target for 2022-2023 is 33,750 MW.