The most promising pathway to deep decarbonization of our societies consists of extensive electrification of end uses and replacement of fossil generation with renewable resources. Unfortunately, the end goal cannot be achieved cost-effectively without access to a very low cost technology with the capacity of storing large amounts of electricity. Form Energy is developing a low-cost, long-duration electrical storage solution with projected costs below $10/kWh — one tenth the cost of Lithium ion systems — which can unlock the cost-effective storage of several days’ worth of electrical supply.
The availability of such technology is evidently transformative in our industry; however, the definition of its exact application and product requirements requires rigorous analytics. Accurate modeling of low carbon grids with large amounts of renewables and storage must capture the hour-to-hour, day-to-day, season-to-season, and year-to-year grid operations with high granularity. Furthermore, asset and portfolio design and valuation should consider multiple weather years and key future system conditions to minimize risk and achieve target reliability.
Only with such realistic modeling frameworks can one truly ascertain the value of long-duration energy storage and define the application and product requirements. Crucially, it is also the only way to understand the important specification trade-offs (say, capex versus round-trip efficiency) that inevitably come up when developing a novel hardware solution, as Form is.
However, when we started the company, we found that commercially available modeling software packages designed for a grid of fossil generation were woefully insufficient for our needs. So, we set out to build our own. With world-class internal expertise and by leveraging cutting edge work in academia and with feedback from hundreds of commercial partners, Form Energy has developed a powerful, technology-agnostic software we call Formware™. It is a next generation suite of capacity expansion planning and decision support tools designed for planners envisioning deeply decarbonized grids.
Form Energy has used Formware extensively in commercial partner engagements, addressing complex issues such as grid evolution, portfolio and asset optimal configuration, valuation, and risk mitigation. As a result, the tool is now trusted by some of the largest and most sophisticated actors in the industry. In an effort to disseminate our findings and help build a market that will ultimately result in the deployment of an essential new asset class, we are launching a series of publicly available thought pieces where we apply the capabilities of Formware with a technology-agnostic mindset to tough and urgent problems and opportunities emerging in electrical grids.
In our first thought piece, we turn our attention to the problem of replacing long-running peaker plants in New York state. We uncover a strong, near term, opportunity for low-cost, long-duration electrical storage:
- Long duration storage can play an important role in replacing the functions of peaker plants: Short and long duration storage can economically replace — one-for-one — up to 83% of New York’s peakers. While not performed in our study, a broader portfolio-level analysis inclusive of additional renewables and clean technologies could be used to identify paths to retiring all remaining peakers.
- Replacing peakers with storage could reduce environmental burdens on vulnerable communities: Long duration storage enables the economic replacement of 90% of the peakers in state-defined environmental justice areas, enabling up to $360M in environmental and health savings to New York.
- This high level of peaker replacement is only possible with long duration storage: Long duration storage enables the economic replacement of more than 4x more peakers than lithium ion alone.
We hope that our readers will carefully review our results and will engage in a constructive conversation that will ultimately lead to a transparent, informed and effective energy strategy for New York and beyond. We hope you enjoy it!
For inquiries, email info — at — FormEnergy dot com.
Author: Marco Ferrara, Ph.D., Co-founder and SVP BD & Analytics