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The Storage Futures Study (SFS) was launched in 2020 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Storage Grand Challenge. The study explores how energy storage technology advancement could impact the deployment of utility-scale storage and adoption of distributed storage, as well as future power system infrastructure investment and operations.

There is economic potential for up to 490 gigawatts per hour of behind-the-meter battery storage in the United States by 2050 in residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, or 300 times today’s installed capacity. But only a small fraction could be adopted by customers, according to the latest phase of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) Storage Futures Study.

“By implementing new battery capabilities in our model, we were able to do scenario comparison that revealed battery cost and the value of backup power are important drivers of distributed storage deployment,” said Ashreeta Prasanna, lead author of the NREL technical report, Distributed Solar and Storage Outlook: Methodology and Scenarios.

The study provides one of the first published estimates of distributed battery storage deployment. The NREL team of analysts — also including Kevin McCabe, Ben Sigrin, and Nate Blair — modeled customer adoption of battery storage systems coupled with solar photovoltaics (PV) in the United States out to 2050 under several scenarios. The results can help inform planning for technical grid infrastructure to capture the benefits and mitigate the challenges of growing distributed electricity generation.

PV-Plus-Battery Scenarios

The Rise of Behind-the-Meter Battery Storage

A widespread transition to distributed energy resources (DERs) is taking place. Households and businesses around the world are adopting DERs to lower their energy bills and curb carbon emissions. Local policymakers have set ambitious energy and climate goals; grid resiliency is a growing concern due to climate change and weather disasters; and more communities face high energy burdens.

In addition, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 2222 enables DERs to participate alongside traditional energy resources in regional organized wholesale markets.

All these factors have contributed to a rise in DER deployment, including batteries. With declining battery storage costs, customers are starting to pair batteries with distributed solar. Behind-the-meter battery capacity totaled almost 1 gigawatt in the United States by the end of 2020, according to Wood Mackenzie.

While DERs offer many benefits to customers and the grid, like peak load shifting, integrating these resources into the power system presents complex challenges for electric utilities. “The transmission system wasn’t designed with distributed generation in mind,” said Ben Sigrin, coauthor of the report. “Projected DER adoption potential can provide a window into distributed generation and help inform future power system planning.”

Bottom-up Modeling for Bottom-up Generation

NREL’s open-source Distributed Generation Market Demand (dGen) model simulates customer adoption of distributed solar, wind, and storage using a bottom-up, agent-based approach and spatially resolved data (watch a Super Mario Bros.-inspired video to learn more).

For this phase of the Storage Futures Study, the model was modified to simulate the technical, economic, and market potential of behind-the-meter battery storage.

dGen interoperated with NREL’s System Advisor Model (SAM), which simulates the performance and efficiency of energy technologies, including cash flow analysis to calculate payback periods — an important consideration in a customer’s decision to adopt a technology.

By interfacing with SAM, dGen modeled the cost-effectiveness and customer adoption of PV-plus-battery storage systems for residential, commercial, and industrial entities in the United States with different technology costs, storage valuation, incentives, and compensation. The resulting upper and lower bounds of adoption revealed what customers consider most in their decisions.

Lower Battery Costs, High Backup-Power Value Drives Deployment

Across all 2050 scenarios, dGen modeled significant economic potential for distributed battery storage coupled with PV. Scenarios assuming modest projected declines in battery costs and lower value of backup power show economic potential for 114 gigawatts of storage capacity — a 90-times increase from today. When battery costs significantly reduce and the value of backup power doubles, the economic potential increases to 245 gigawatts.

However, only 7% of the estimated capacity is adopted by customers. The difference is largely due to the long payback period for distributed PV-plus-battery storage systems, which averages 11 years for the residential sector, 12 years for the commercial sector, and 8 years for the industrial sector in 2030.

“The estimated adoption potential translates to less than 20% of the market potential,” Prasanna said. “Customers are less inclined to invest in a system that takes a long time to be profitable.”

Modeled deployment varies by location based on specific rate structures or incentive programs but is generally driven by battery cost and the value of backup power. Similar trends are seen on the national scale, where lower battery costs and high backup-power value increase deployment.

PV and Batteries Drive Each Other’s Adoption

Several findings in the study demonstrate that PV and batteries make an economical pairing. Because an average PV-plus-battery storage system is larger than PV-only configurations, battery storage increases the PV capacity and the system’s economic value.

About 34%–40% of total annual PV installations projected in 2050 in the reference or baseline scenario are coadopted with batteries. This rate, again, is driven by higher value of backup power and lower technology costs.

Combined cost reductions in both PV and battery storage technologies drive additional adoption compared to cost reductions in just battery technology alone. When costs decrease for both technologies, more customers adopt PV-plus-battery systems, and deployment increases by 106% in 2050.

“The process of developing and implementing the distributed storage technology within dGen revealed additional questions and needed research capabilities related to behind-the-meter battery storage adoption,” Prasanna said. “Additional enhancements of dGen will be needed to explore research questions such as projecting the adoption of community-scale DERs and storage capacity and their impact on the distribution grid, exploration of the tradeoffs between distributed and utility-scale storage, and the role of DERs in supporting the transition to a decarbonized economy.”

Learn More at August 10 Webinar

NREL’s Storage Futures Study team will host a free public webinar on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, from 9 to 10 a.m. MT. You will learn more about the key drivers of customer adoption potential of distributed storage and how the study findings can help inform future power system planning. Register to attend.

Article courtesy of NREL.

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Tesla lowers price of ‘Full Self-Driving’ to $8,000, down from $12,000

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Tesla lowers price of 'Full Self-Driving' to ,000, down from ,000

Tesla has once again lowered the price of its Full Self-Driving software by $4,000, now costing $8,000, down from a previous price of $12,000 in the US.

Prices were also lowered in Canada, where the system used to cost $16,000CAD, and now costs $11,000CAD.

In addition to the price drop, Tesla has eliminated “Enhanced Autopilot” as an option, which previously cost $6,000. For owners who already have enhanced autopilot, the cost to upgrade to FSD is now $2,000, down from $6,000.

Tesla has been doing a lot of price cuts lately, including dropping the price of most of its vehicles by $2,000 just a day ago.

It also cut the price of its FSD subscription service in half, to $99/mo, just a couple weeks ago.

That new subscription price suddenly made FSD’s $12k price seem quite steep, as someone would need to subscribe to FSD for ten whole years before paying $12k in total cost – and that’s not including the time value of money.

So it seemed inevitable that people would lean towards subscriptions, rather than upfront purchases, after that price drop.

Now, to make the prices a little closer, Tesla dropped the price of FSD to $8,000 – or 6 2/3 years worth of subscriptions at $99/mo. A little more reasonable, though still longer than many people own a car (and, again, one should account for the time value of money).

All of these prices are down significantly from the highest price FSD has ever sold for, which was $15k from late 2022 until late 2023 when it dropped the price back to $12k.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly said that as FSD becomes more capable, it should also go up in price to reflect its greater value. Previously, FSD price increases were largely associated with software updates that added new capability to the system.

Musk even went as far as to say that this means Tesla cars with FSD are “appreciating assets,” potentially worth $100-200k due to their value as robotaxis. Though Tesla only uses those values when it’s convenient, considering FSD much less valuable when offering trade-in estimates to owners.

But on a more practical business level, this move to lower FSD prices probably has less to do with the system’s capabilities and more to do with boosting revenue during a difficult time for the company, having just posted bad quarterly delivery numbers and laying off 10% of its workforce. A lower price could incentivize owners to pony up for software which had previously mostly gone up in price, giving Tesla a free cash infusion.

The system’s capabilities have been changing, too. Tesla has been pushing FSD more lately, ever since the release of the “mind-blowing” FSD v12. The new version changes the system significantly on the back-end, finally using machine learning neural nets to analyze Tesla’s vast amounts of driving data to teach cars how to drive themselves.

With Tesla’s confidence in the new system, the company rolled out a free one-month trial of FSD to all Teslas in the US, basically encompassing the month of April.

It has also started calling the system “Supervised Full Self-Driving,” a somewhat self-contradictory name that nevertheless is more accurate given that FSD is still a “Level 2” system that does not ever actually take full responsibility for the dynamic driving task (that only happens with level 3+ systems, like Mercedes’ DRIVE PILOT or Waymo).

Today’s price drop hasn’t been echoed in all other territories. It’s still listed at £6,800 in the UK and 59,600kr in Norway, same as it was before today’s price drop. FSD has generally been somewhat cheaper in Europe than the US after taking into account exchange rates, because it also has more capabilities in the US than in other countries, but after today’s price cuts, it’s actually more expensive in some EU countries (like the UK, where exchange rate puts it at ~$8.4k USD equivalent) than in the US, despite lower capabilities.

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First ever electric semi truck rides into Mexico with SDG&E

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First ever electric semi truck rides into Mexico with SDG&E

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) says the maiden voyage of their Class 8 heavy-duty electric semi marks the first time an electric semi has crossed the border hauling a standard load, marking an important milestone as the two nations move toward a net zero future.

The electric semi truck – one of 11 Peterbilt 579EV Class 8 trucks bought by San Diego-based Bali Express last year – made its first trip to Mexico carrying an unspecified load of goods through the Port of Entry at Otay Mesa, which connects Southern California to the city of Tijuana, Mexico.

Bali Express’ electric trucks will utilize SDG&E’s recently activated HD charging infrastructure to provide “reliable and affordable” electric freight options for medium and heavy-duty EVs crossing the US/Mexico border.

The SDG&E-powered chargers were partially funded through a $200,000 grant from the California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program. That program has put more than $1 billion to alternative fuel and vehicle technology projects designed to improve public health while bringing both environmental and economic benefits to communities throughout the state.

Those sentiments were echoed by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “The historic crossing of this electric freight truck symbolizes San Diego’s commitment to innovation, cross-border cooperation and our binational community,” said Gloria, in a statement. “We’re not just reducing emissions, we’re building a cleaner future for people living near our border, and leading the way in international trade and environmental responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Executive Director of SDG&E Caroline Winn called the new charging corridor, “an example of how collaboration can create new and innovative ways to rethink how to move transportation systems toward electrification.”

The Peterbilt 579EV trucks have an 82,000 lb. GCWR and is powered by the same 670 hp Meritor 14Xe “epowertrain” used in the PACCAR Kenworth t680e that debuted back in 2022. That system integrates electric motors and drive axles into a single unit, making it easy for manufacturers to electrify their fleets by maintaining existing (re: ICE) axle mounting hardware.

The big Petes have approx. 150 miles of range and are capable of fully charging their massive, 400 kWh batteries in about 3 hours.

Electrek’s Take

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Bali Express have announced the maiden voyage to Mexico of a U.S. Class 8 heavy-duty electric truckload; image by Bali Express, via Mexico Now.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved a landmark plan to end the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. And, while California is just one state, it’s important to remember that, as California’s fleets go, so too go the fleets of Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Washington State, and others.

If we’re lucky, the whole country will be electric-only well before then.

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Liebherr electric excavator reaches million ton milestone, scores more orders

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Liebherr electric excavator reaches million ton milestone, scores more orders

This massive Liebherr electric excavator reached a major operational milestone earlier this month when it moved its one millionth tonne of dirt. And now, its buyers want more!

That’s right, gang – since we first covered the converted mining excavator back in January it’s been hard at work. And now, after its initial 90 day “break-in” period operating at partial capacity while the site team familiarized themselves with the new tech, it’s operating at full speed at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek mine in Western Australia.

The Liebherr is working so well, in fact, that Fortescue is planning on order two more examples of the mighty electric earth-mover.

“This is such an exciting milestone for Fortescue and our decarbonisation journey. Importantly, we’ve been able to achieve this while maintaining our high safety standards,” says Fortescue Metals CEO, Dino Otranto. “We will have two additional electric excavators commissioned by the end of April. Once we decarbonize our entire fleet, around 95 million liters of diesel will be removed from our operations every year, or more than a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.”

Big work needs big power

Liebherr and Fortescue repower R 9400 excavator to electric configuration
The repowered Liebherr R 9400 E excavator at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek mine; via Liebherr.

Moving more than a million tons of earth and rock takes a lot of energy. To keep its batteries topped off, the re-powered Liebherr R 9400 E electric excavator operates off blend of renewable solar power and a 6.6 kV substation pumping electrons through more than two kilometers of high voltage trailing cable.

Eventually, though, Fortescue plans to power its equipment completely from sustainable sources. “In line with our commitment to eliminate emissions across our mining operations,” reads the company’s statement. “The intention is that all electrified mining equipment will eventually be 100 per cent powered by renewable electricity.”

Electrek’s Take

Because Liebherr takes a modular approach to building its larger mining equipment, repowering a diesel-drive excavator like the R 9400 can be completed in a matter of weeks; courtesy Liebherr.

Covering an electric pilot program is always fun, but all too often the results of these initial experiments aren’t publicized – or else, don’t directly lead to sales. To their credit, Liebherr is lucky to have a customer in Fortescue that’s willing to put their cards on the table here, trumpeting the re-powered excavator’s success and even announcing its plans to order two more electric machines publicly.

They won’t have to wait long, either. Because Liebherr takes a modular approach to building its larger mining equipment, a diesel-drive excavator like the R 9400 can be completely re-powered to electric in a matter of weeks.

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