Category: News

‘Breakthrough’ California solar-plus-storage project bought by Capital Dynamics

Asset manager Capital Dynamics has purchased the Eland 400MW solar-plus-storage complex under development by 8minute Solar Energy, contracted to supply power to the city of Los Angeles at ultra-low prices.

8minute remains the developer and an equity partner in the Eland Solar & Storage project, located 70 miles north of Los Angeles, and will oversee engineering, design, procurement and construction. The firm has yet to select an EPC contractor, PV Tech understands. 

Capital Dynamics, meanwhile, will be the facility’s long-term majority equity investor.

The project, which boasts a 300MW/1,200MWh energy storage facility, is set to reach full commercial operations in 2023. Its backers claim it is the second-largest solar project in the US.

The Eland project is contracted to supply power to utility Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) at record-breaking fixed tariffs for solar (US$0.01997/kWh) and energy storage (US$0.013/kWh) for a period of 25 years.

“Eland is a breakthrough project, setting records for low-cost solar, and incorporates a large battery energy storage centre that demonstrates solar’s ability to power California’s vibrant and growing economy 24/7,” 8minute CEO and president Tom Buttgenbach said in a statement this week. 

8minute retains the right to repurchase a portion of the project upon its completion.

The move adds to a growing portfolio shared by the Swiss asset manager and Californian solar developer. Earlier this month, the pair announced the purchase of a 300MWac/873MWdc project in Nevada, due to be commissioned in late 2021.

Storage-backed renewables are central to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to replace gas plants with renewable energy, in order to reach its 100%-by-2045 clean energy target.

The Eland project – and the wider aims and goals of LADWP and other entities were the focus of recent analysis contributed to this site by Janice Lin and Jack Chang of Strategen Consulting, as featured in our Energy Storage Special Report 2019, which you can read here. There’s also more on the low price PPA procurements by Los Angeles municipal utilities in this article from September 2019. 

Download the full Energy Storage Special Report 2019 as a PDF, from our ‘Resources’ page (subscription details required). 

Sacramento municipal utility joins solar-plus-storage wave of action

California’s state planning authorities have waved through a plan by a Sacramento utility to roll out gigawatts’ worth of green energy over the next two decades, including utility-scale storage.

Earlier this week, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) said the California Energy Commission has given the all-clear to its plans to install nearly 4GW of renewables and demand-side resources by 2040.

The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) proposed by the firm – a not-for-profit entity servicing an area home to 1.5 million – would see major volumes of utility-scale solar (1.5GW), rooftop solar (600MW), wind power (670MW) and utility-scale storage (560MW) installed within two decades.

The Sacramento utility is working towards a goal to supply net-zero-emission electricity to its customers by 2040. Delivering the IRP would cost US$6.5 to US$7.3 billion but slash SMUD’s 2020-2040 greenhouse gas emissions by 57%, the firm estimates.

The IRP documents approved this week were adopted by SMUD’s Board of Directors in October 2018, and spell out how the utility will go about meeting its solar installation targets. The firm plans to build 300MW of the 1.5GW of utility-scale solar within three years.

SMUD is targeting sites around Sacramento for the PV build-out – it estimates 80,000 acres may be available county-wide for such a purpose – but also considering other locations in California, despite misgivings around missed green and economic benefits for Sacramento.

The IRP also sheds light on the approach the utility intends to follow with energy storage. The firm currently sees the segment as “not generally cost effective” but expects costs to come down. The plan, SMUD says, is to first focus on R&D and then ramp up deployment by 2030, when storage might take off.

In addition, SMUD believes “niche” storage applications – including co-location with solar – could see the technology embraced by “early-adopter” customers. By 2040, the utility wants to drive over 200MW in battery systems installed by its customers.

This section by Jose Rojo Martin. 

These stories appeared in their original form earlier this week on our sister site, PV Tech.

Join our big conversation this year with the social media hashtag #SmartSolarStorage2020. 

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Li-Cycle: Recycled lithium battery materials sent to first commercial customer

Canada-headquartered start-up Li-Cycle has claimed a victory in commercialising its lithium battery recycling processes, with a shipment sent to a customer just before the end of last year.

Founded in the mid-2010s, Li-Cycle was in 2019 among the prominent advocates for the recycling of lithium-ion batteries. In early June, published quotes from the company claiming 100% of materials from lithium batteries – including cobalt – could be achieved using Li-Cycle’s two-step process.

The company literally shreds batteries to “mechanically size reduce” the devices. This can be done safely even with batteries that still hold charge, Li-Cycle claims. The second step is to then use a hydrometallurgy and wet chemistry process to remove the valuable components and materials one at a time.

Li-Cycle said in a press release last week that the first shipment “of commercially recycled battery material” was completed in December 2019, after processing at Li-Cycle’s Ontario facility. The company affirmed that materials including cobalt, nickel and of course lithium in a shipment that included a concentrate of the energy metals, had been successfully delivered to the unnamed customer.

“The first shipment of commercial product marks a significant milestone for Li-Cycle, on the company’s path to becoming a premier resource recovery processor, handling all types of lithium-ion batteries from a broad set of customers and applications,” Li-Cycle president and CEO Ajay Kochhar said.

Renewable, recyclable

Li-Cycle said it is expanding to facilities in the US during this year. reached out to the company today for comment and to make some specific enquiries on the shipment itself, but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.

In a 2019 feature article / tech paper for this site and for our journal PV Tech Power, Stefan Hogg, operations and business development for Li-Cycle, wrote extensively about the process(es) and how they work, as well as putting some numbers to both the existing and expected opportunities for recycling of lithium batteries and materials.

While – as with lithium battery production from scratch – EVs and portable electronics are likely to soak up demand for now, Li-Cycle is also confident the stationary energy storage industry will benefit – as will economies and the environment all over the world.

“As a key driver of the transition away from a carbon-based economy, li-ion batteries are integral to the opportunity to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide,” Hogg wrote.

“However, to ensure a truly positive impact over their lifecycle, we must ensure a closed-loop system is in place to safely handle and recycle spent li-ion batteries at scale. This will enable the reintegration of critical battery materials into the li-ion battery supply chain and the broader economy, while preventing negative environmental and safety impacts”.

Read ‘Batteries need to be ‘renewable’ too: why recycling matters now’, from Li-Cycle’s Stefan Hogg, here on the site. You can also download it as a PDF from our ‘Resources’ page. 

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ROUNDUP: House of Representatives’ net zero plan, ESS for EVs, €100m energy transition fund

US House of Representatives’ net zero bill includes microgrid, storage support

US power suppliers could face clean energy credit obligations to foster a major shift to renewables and decisively slash emissions, under legislation currently being drafted up at Congress.

On Wednesday, the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee at the US House of Representatives released a preview of a clean energy bill that would commit the country to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, via comprehensive changes across all economic sectors.

The so-called Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act – to be fully released later this month – is being co-sponsored by Democratic representatives Frank Pallone Jr. (elected for New Jersey and chair of the E&C committee), Paul Tonko (New York) and Bobby L. Rush (Illinois).

If proposed as currently outlined, the act will require retail power suppliers to procure increasing volumes of clean energy credits, under a so-called Clean Energy Standard. The obligation would kick in by 2022 and rise all the way to 2050, by which point clean energy would constitute the entirety of a supplier’s purchases.

The CLEAN Future Act will also seek to foster renewable growth by unlocking extra funding for grid upgrades and standardising PPA documents for zero-emission technologies. The bill will pave the way for a new loan and grant scheme to roll out domestic solar in low-income communities.

Several elements of the legislation are meant to specifically support energy storage and microgrids. The upcoming draft would create a grant programme for these technologies and make storage a mandatory consideration for US states drafting up energy resource plans under the so-called PURPA Act.

Jose Rojo Martin 

To read the full version of this story, visit PV Tech. 

Energy storage to integrate EV chargers in buildings: Eaton, Green Motion form partnership

Eaton has partnered with Green Motion, a provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, to help smoothly integrate chargers into buildings with energy storage.

Together they are hoping to develop a scalable and modular design, that combines intelligent EV charging and energy storage solutions, for a wide range of applications in collective housing, commercial buildings, shopping malls, universities, stadiums and airports.

The companies are hoping that by partnering, they can sidestep many of the constraints EV infrastructure is facing. 

The uptake of EVs in the UK is picking up pace, with 2019 seeing an 144% increase in the number of sales. 

Molly Lempriere

To read the full version of this story, visit Current±

Energy transition investor SET Ventures raises €100m for early stage companies including energy storage

SET Ventures has raised €100 million (US$110.99 million) in its most recent funding round, which it will use to invest in early stage energy companies throughout Europe.

This was the result of the energy transition venture capital firm’s SET Fund III fundraising round, well exceeding the targeted €75 million. It will now look to invest in companies that focus on effective balancing of intermittent renewable generation, smart energy distribution and storage, as well as promoting efficient energy use in general.

As part of SET Fund III, SET Ventures has already made investments in DEPsys, a Swiss company focused on energy efficiency, Minibems, an IoT and smart heating company based in the UK, and FlexiDAO, a Dutch software provider. SET Ventures says that more investments will be announced soon.

Molly Lempriere

To read the full version of this story, visit Current±..

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Google files plan to power US$600m Vegas data centre with solar and batteries

Nevada utility NV Energy and Google are plotting a major solar-plus-storage facility outside of Las Vegas in a deal being billed as the largest battery-backed solar corporate agreement in the world.

The proposal was filed in December to Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by Nevada Power Co, a subsidiary of NV Energy.

While the length of the proposed power purchase agreement (PPA) and project load capacity were redacted from the public filing, market intelligence firm S&P Platts reported a 350MW solar plant backed by a 250-280MW battery storage system on Wednesday.

The energy will power Google’s US$600 million Henderson data centre near Las Vegas, which is scheduled to start operations in mid-2020.

If approved, the solar-plus-storage facility would be commissioned by late 2023, according to the filings.

While construction of the renewables plant is underway, the agreement stipulates that NV Energy will provide Google with wholesale market energy “priced at an appropriate index pricing” or with capacity from other NV Energy generators.

Once the solar-plus-storage plant is live, NV Energy will have the right to buy any excess power back from Google.

In early December, the utility – a near-monopoly in Nevada – secured approval from the PUC for a 1GW+ trio of solar projects that would be collectively backed by 590MW of storage. Those plants are set to come online by 2024 and are being developed by 8minute Solar Energy, EDF Renewables and a Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners – Arevia Power partnership.

NV Energy is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway group, the conglomerate run by Warren Buffett that owns Duracell, Fruit of the Loom, Dairy Queen and parts of Kraft Heinz Company and American Express.

A prehearing conference for the Google power procurement deal will be held on 23 January.

This article first appeared on PV Tech.

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PODCAST: 2019 in review and the challenging decade ahead

Liam Stoker and Andy Colthorpe reflect on the biggest news in energy storage in 2019, while also gazing into their crystal balls and predicting what the energy transition may hold in store for the year ahead.

The podcast can be streamed below:

Alternatively, you can subscribe and listen to the podcast on the Solar Media Editor’s Channel, which is now on all popular audio channels, including;

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts

Join the conversation on one of the biggest stories of the year ahead with our 2020 Social Media hashtag:

#SmartSolarStorage2020 (LINKEDIN)

#SmartSolarStorage2020 (TWITTER)

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New York town picks 80MWh ESS alternative to fossil fuel project

A dramatic twist was added to a legacy pipeline of energy projects serving the town of Ulster, New York, with the local community now set to benefit from a large-scale battery energy storage system, instead of fossil fuels.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), emailed announcing an incentive contract with developer GlidePath for a 20MW / 80MWh standalone energy storage project.

This time it seems, a new kind of NIMBY-ism saved the day. An early February 2019 report from local press states that opposition from local residents led to Glidepath ditching the fossil fuel portion of the overall project. That would’ve been a natural gas peaker plant, which doesn’t run that frequently, but can be very polluting when it does.

According to a report carried on the blog of local radio station WAMC, the company hadn’t been sure that the project could be economically viable as battery-only, but as the trajectories of declining costs and favourable policies aligned, it became feasible. Local non-profit conservation group Scenic Hudson even had praise for the project’s reconfigured plans.

“In addition to being good for the environment, this project will benefit the local economy, making it a win-win,” Scenic Hudson president Ned Sullivan said.

“Scenic Hudson worked with local partners to urge Glidepath to transition from building a fossil-fuel plant that would cause pollution and contribute to climate change to a project like this, which supports clean, renewable power generation and will help achieve Governor Cuomo’s visionary climate goals.”

A busy few weeks for New York project news 

NYSERDA said in its email that the project, at Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, “raised concerns in the community” when it had been first proposed with the peaker plant attached in 2018. To be completed in early 2021, the new plan sees GlidePath net US$8.8 million in support from the US$405 million overall NYSERDA Market Acceleration Bridge Incentive Program.

With four hours’ duration of energy storage, the battery system will discharge energy into the grid at peak times to alleviate grid constraints, much like the gas plant would’ve done, but cleaner. It is, of course, the latest in a series of big projects for New York, in light of the state’s commitment to 3,000MW of energy storage by 2030, in its ‘carbon-neutral by 2040’ plans. The battery storage will be built alongside 6GW of distributed solar and 9GW of offshore wind.

The announcement comes on the heels of other already completed or in the works grid-scale energy storage projects for the state of New York including the state’s biggest completed to date (20MW) by Key Capture Energy and a 4.8MW / 16.4MWh project by Enel X in the heart of urban New York City, with NEC acting as equipment supplier to both. From an industry driver standpoint, the publication and implementation of fire safety codes by the state has played a crucial role. 

While the Town of Ulster project doesn’t come with renewables attached, it is hoped to be the “first of many” clean energy initiatives, Town Supervisor James Quigley said, while NYSERDA CEO and President Alicia Barton highlighted the role the 80MWh battery energy storage system will play in integrating renewables into the local grid.

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New York City’s biggest: Enel X connects grid-scale battery storage in Brooklyn

Update 12 Decmber 2019: NEC’s Energy Solutions division, got in touch with to let us know that, as with the Key Capture Energy 20MW project referred to below, NEC was supplier of the end-to-end battery energy storage system (BESS) solution for Enel X’s latest big battery for the Big Apple. 

A 4.8MW / 16.4MWh battery energy storage system supporting the local grid of utility Con Edison in Brookyn, New York, has begun operation through Enel X and global real estate firm Related Companies.

It’s not the biggest battery project so far in the state, which is newly embued with full-on low carbon energy transition policy ambition – the state wants to go use 100% renewable electricity by 2040 – and has an energy storage target of 3GW by 2030 to match.

That accolade currently is held by developer Key Capture Energy’s 20MW lithium-ion system supplied by NEC, which took an in-depth look at back in September. While New York has long been discussed as a region of huge potential for energy storage, the market has been relatively slow to take off for reasons including a need for stringent safety regulations in the state’s many densely populated urban centres.

The 16.4MWh front-of-the-meter (FTM) battery energy storage system (BESS) deployed by Enel’s new energy spin-off Enel X is, however, the largest in New York City so far, Enel X said in a release today. Hosted by Related Companies at one of its properties in East New York, the batteries will help support Con Edison’s grid in times of peak demand. Con Edison said in July that it is seeking 300MW of energy storage of at least four hours duration.

Perhaps the more important ‘bigger picture’ aspect of the BESS’ switch on in Brooklyn, is that it is the latest piece of the feted Brooklyn-Queens Neighbourhood Program (aka Brooklyn-Queens Demand Management Program), which is an initiative designed to use demand response, energy efficiency and related technologies including BESS and virtual power plants via aggregated behind-the-meter (BTM) resources to relieve grid congestion in the area.

Investment in the programme, which since 2016 has also included 13MWh of storage from Green Charge (now ENGIE Storage) could potentially save big money on the need to upgrade transmission and distribution infrastructure. The programme already led to the deployment by Enel X of a solar-plus-storage microgrid at the Marcus Garvey Apartments. Meanwhile, Enel X claimed that the novel lease arrangement between Related Companies, Enel X and Con Edison could be widely replicated to help the state meet its clean energy goals.  

“New York is a complex, densely-populated market in continuous growth, which requires innovative technologies to address evolving energy challenges. Storage systems, like this one, are among the critical tools that can help take on these challenges, by increasing energy systems’ flexibility and stability,” Enel X chief, Francesco Venturini, said. 

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ROUND-UP: Savion’s solar-plus-storage arm, Enphase pre-orders, Ingeteam & Pylontech compatibility

21 November: Savion launches US-facing solar-plus-storage development arm

Renewables developer Savion has launched a utility-scale solar-plus-storage project development firm in the US. Savion has assembled a veteran development team responsible for the construction of more than 8GW of solar and storage projects and brings backing from Macquarie’s Green Invest Group to the table.

The company is to target utilities, municipalities, corporate end users and landowners across the US, aiming to collaborate with them to bring forward utility-scale solar and storage projects.

Rob Freeman, chief executive at Savion, said the new business unit was a new chapter for the company, lauding Macquarie’s backing as having provided it with a “strong financial footing” to pursue new projects.


20 November: Enphase opens pre-orders for back-up power-enabled batteries

Enphase Energy is taking pre-orders for domestic battery storage systems based on its Ensemble energy management technology.

Enphase’s Encharge 3 and Encharge 10 systems can be installed alongside the Ensemble technology which provides homeowners with back-up power capabilities in the result of a power cut or other grid failure.

Enphase Energy president and CEO Badri Kothandaraman pointed to recent power outages in California triggered by wildfires and the disruption they have caused as placing more importance on back-up power capabilities.

Encharge pre-orders are available in the US only and are expected to ship from Q1 2020.


25 November: Ingeteam bybrid inverters meet Pylontech Powercube storage 

Ingeteam and Pylontech have proven the compatibility of the duo’s respective technologies.

Ingeteam’s hybrid Ingecon Sun Storage inverter and Pylontech’s Powercube and Force line of HV batteries have been proven to be compatible after the two companies tested and certified them at their respective research and development facilities.

Spain-based Ingeteam said the use of its inverter range allows for the connection of battery storage systems with a PV array within the same unit, helping to reduce overall system costs for domestic and C&I applications by eliminating the need for additional inverters on the PV side.

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Lockheed Martin locked onto 2020 flow battery launch

Defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin wants to be the first disruptive company of the flow battery era, with the expectation that its first devices will go into series production before the end of this year. met earlier this year with company VP for business development Dan Norton, who said that Lockheed Martin’s own coordination chemistry flow battery (CCFB) had neared the end of its development and test programme, which had gone “swimmingly and as planned”. The product has been some time in development, originally teased as expected to hit the market before the end of 2018, although this target was always understood to be flexible. 

“We begin serial production on our unit number 1 towards the end of the year and we’ll go for full launch in the market some time next year,” Norton said, in an interview taped at this year’s Solar Power International in late September but only cleared for publication approval later.

That in itself is an indication of Lockheed Martin’s focus. The flow batteries are being developed within Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control division, and Norton said that as an energy security asset, the technology and market is “the next logical progression” for the company.

While Lockheed has already launched GridStar lithium and seen successful deployments of over 100 units in North America, as the market moves from shorter to longer duration energy storage, Norton said, it identified a further opportunity.

“So we invested in (Sun Catalyx), a technology that’s a spinout of MIT, to create a co-ordinated compound chemistry flow battery, that is human- and environmentally-safe, that is balance-of-plant cost-effective and that is deployable worldwide,” Dan Norton said. 

Projects could be ‘multiple megawatts to hundreds of megawatts’

Long-duration flow batteries offer a potential to decouple energy and power, meaning that while they tend to cost more upfront than lithium-ion batteries, they can effectively scale up fairly easily, simply by increasing the capacity of the tanks the electrolyte is pumped through. While the small handful of flow battery companies already out there in the market tend to favour either vanadium or zinc bromine, Lockheed is keeping tight-lipped still on the makeup of the proprietary electrolyte its GridStar Flow products will use.

Norton was however, more explicit on the type of projects Lockheed Martin will be going after.

“[We’re] talking about applications being major grid-scale, multiple megawatts, to hundreds of megawatt-sized storage. We want to do larger projects: the economies of scale certainly work out better on larger projects.”

There’s to be some expansion of the market areas covered by the company’s lithium-ion battery energy storage outside of North America in the coming months, but Norton said that focusing on that market alone – where customers tend to be commercial and industrial (C&I) scale, from community microgrids to military installations, rather than utility or larger-scale – would be limiting.

“As we know, lithium-ion is really good and effective in the two to four hour range. It has its limitations as you lengthen out the time you need to store,” Norton said.

“And as the world is marching to renewables and the ability to generate when the sun shines or the wind blows and then the ability to dispense when it doesn’t, you need longer duration than two to four. So you need to be able to think eight, 10, 12 hour duration storages and that’s the beauty of our flow battery.”

Staking an early disruptive claim

A report recently out from Navigant Research identifies a number of ‘leaders’ of the early flow battery market, including CellCube, Sumitomo Electric, Vionx and others. The market has been notoriously tough going already, with earlier leading players such as Immergy and VIZN Energy already falling by the wayside – although fighting talk persists from the team behind US-based VIZN.

Dan Norton argues that Lockheed Martin’s operational scale and established name and reputation stand it in good stead to take on that market.

“There’s been a lot of concern over the ability to deliver from small or medium-sized companies working in this marketplace. All of our customers, when they come and talk to me about long duration say that our logo really matters, because they know when they put it in the field that it’s going to work every time, all of the time.”

Norton said that his customers “want to work with larger players with a reliable reputation”. Meanwhile, flow competitors RedT and Avalon Battery are hoping that a merger between their two vanadium redox flow energy storage technology and development companies will create a “global player” in the market.

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‘Interconnection rules for energy storage are a work in progress’, even in the US’ leading states

Even the US states leading in energy storage market development still have work to do when it comes to adopting the best and lowest-cost grid interconnection procedures, an expert in regulatory affairs at the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), has said.

In an exclusive blog published this week on, Sara Baldwin, the national group’s VP for regulatory affairs, wrote that while “interconnection procedures are the rules of the road for the grid,” at this stage, such rules vary hugely state by state.

“Without common rules and predictable processes, gridlock and costly projects can result. Alternatively, the adoption of statewide interconnection standards (i.e., rules that apply to all regulated utilities) that reflect well-vetted best practices can provide greater consistency across utilities and help streamline the grid connection process for all involved stakeholders,” Sara Baldwin wrote.

IREC produced its latest Model Interconnection Procedures in September this year, applicable nationally and designed to “reflect the latest evolution in best practices to facilitate higher penetrations of distributed energy resources (DERs) on the grid,” including wind, solar, electric vehicles and, of course, energy storage.

The 2019 edition provides a “necessary update” to the guide first published in 2005 and subsequently updated in 2009 and 2013, Baldwin said at the time it was released, aimed at informing stakeholders including utility regulators, industry professionals and policymakers.

While the new document includes an initial framework for the interconnection of energy storage systems, as outlined in the IREC expert’s blog, they remain very much a work in progress and “do not yet resolve every question around energy storage.”

“For example, they (the procedures) do not address how to screen those energy storage systems that may have some ‘inadvertent export’ for a very short duration in response to sudden customer load fluctuations,” Baldwin wrote.

“But as the interconnection of energy storage evolves in the coming years, best practices for how best to analyse their grid impacts will continue to emerge.”

Read Sara Baldwin of IREC’s blog for, “Encouraging signs: interconnection rules in the age of distributed energy storage”, here.

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