We have a serious issue going on with the large-scale integration of renewable energy, both in the United States and the rest of the world. As has been seen in California, China and other areas where gigawatts of solar and wind power plants are being scaled, these renewable resources are not always fully utilized and are underperforming their potential. This underutilization occurs because of curtailment, when the renewable power supply exceeds grid demand during certain parts of the day and must be ramped down—as seen in the infamous “Duck Curve.” A related issue is inverter clipping, which happens when the DC input power of an inverter exceeds the inverter’s AC power rating and a significant amount of generation may be lost or underused.
To meet this challenge, there are three big buckets of solutions to help achieve the ubiquitous integration of renewables into the 21st century electrical infrastructure: regionalization of the power grid using intelligent planning methods and coordinated policy efforts; selective strategic placement of transmission lines; and the widespread deployment of battery and energy storage. While NEXTracker encourages and supports the development and implementation of the first two solutions, it is the third area—energy storage—where we are launching a major strategic initiative.
We have evaluated and developed two affordable and complementary storage offerings that can serve customers in virtually all uses cases and geographies. After much hard work and dedication from our team, I’m happy to introduce the dynamic duo of the NEXTracker Energy Storage Solutions portfolio: NX Drive™ and NX Flow™. Read yesterday’s press release here and Julian Spector’s take here.
NX Drive provides an advanced balance of systems storage solution that incorporates optimized mechanical, electrical, thermal management and fire suppression features in pre-engineered enclosures that house our customers’ choice of mainstream Tier 1 lithium-ion battery modules. By having a standardized architecture, NX Drive helps ameliorate much of the permitting, construction, and scheduling hassles associated with less-integrated or piecemeal storage systems and is also eligible for tax credit benefits. We have already deployed multiple units and will be announcing soon the selection of NX Drive for one of the largest storage projects in development.
NX Flow is a DC-coupled solution using vanadium flow batteries, which we integrate with our single-axis tracking systems. This durable technology provides a very long duration storage solution as well as an extended lifetime for the product application. It also enables a much higher DC:AC ratio than a standard solar array because large amounts of DC power can be stored without clipping and allow continuous power to be put into the grid over a long period of time. It’s a rugged system too: our CTO Alex Au and his group have field-validated the NX Flow over ten years of continuous operation with virtually no degradation.
Our parent company Flex has been incubating NX Drive for several years. As a result, we have a strong core of intellectual property, with several patents pending on the design, mechanical and other aspects of the platform, including an integral grounding system that enhances the overall safety of the container. In addition, the supply chain we’ve developed at NX for our solar tracking systems leverages the worldwide manufacturing footprint of Flex and our other suppliers for our storage solutions. This global reach also comes into play on the sales, service and monitoring side, as our team will diligently oversee the operation and maintenance of our installed storage systems anywhere we do business on the planet.
Adding storage to the NEXTracker offering represents the latest step in our effort to provide clean energy system solutions for the power plants of the future. We’re looking forward to working with our developer, EPC and asset owner partners to plan, design and execute the lowest levelized cost of storage, most profitable long-term solar and storage solutions. Together, we will fulfill the vision of the large-scale integration of renewables.
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