In an effort to maximize and leverage the state’s abundant wind and solar resources, the Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded a $200,000 grant to support systems research of two local solar-plus-storage projects. Led by Ideal Energy, information gathered from these unique projects will be analyzed by researchers based at Iowa State University to inform how future grid investments can be better optimized to deliver low cost electricity for utilities and consumers in the state.
While storage projects are on the rise in western and eastern states, the economic viability of battery technology is still in question throughout the Midwest due to a general lack of area-specific research. As a national leader in wind energy with a burgeoning solar market, officials in Iowa are eager to study the role battery storage can play when integrated with distributed generation.
According to Brian Selinger, Team Leader for the Iowa Energy Office, “storage provides a whole host of opportunities for Iowa with wind and solar”, but the real challenge lies in designing a comprehensive approach to distributed generation and storage that addresses the state’s unique economic, legislative, regulatory, and financial needs. The state has several efforts underway to support this analysis, including the Iowa Energy Storage Committee, an 18-person stakeholder group that includes representatives from academia, utilities, environmental organizations, and government agencies.
With growing state support behind solar-plus-storage research and the expected 2019 release of a storage action plan by the Iowa Energy Storage Committee, Iowa is positioning itself to be a storage leader in the Midwest for years to come.