Falling solar panel prices coupled with favorable national and state policies are giving energy storage technologies the jolt they need to electrify the market place. The latest such example is Pacific Gas & Electric that wants to install four battery projects totaling 2,270 megawatts.
Energy storage could be anything from shaving peak load to storing and injecting wind and solar electrons onto the grid.
“Energy storage plays an increasingly important role in California’s clean energy future, and while it has been a part of PG&E’s power mix for decades – starting with the Helms Pumped Storage Plant in the 1980’s – recent decreases in battery prices are enabling energy storage to become a competitive alternative to traditional solutions,” said Roy Kuga, vice president, grid integration and innovation, PG&E, in a release.
“As a result, we believe that battery energy storage will be even more significant in enhancing overall grid reliability, integrating renewables, and helping customers save energy and money,” he added.
If the projects are approved by the California Public Utility Commission, the first of them will come online in 2019 while the others would follow a year later. California’s Independent System Operator is incorporating energy storage into mix of generation assets, as PG&E Corp., Sempra Energy and Edison International must collectively buy 1,325 megawatts of energy storage by 2020.
As for Pacific Gas & Electric, it would be replacing three natural gas-fired power plants owned by Calpine Corp. The utility picked three projects: 1,540 megawatts, 385.5 megawatts and 182.5 megawatts. It would also own one such project by itself, totaling 750 megawatts. The 1,540 project would be owned by Texas-based Vistra Energy and run by its Dynergy Marketing and Trade, which is different from the utility company Dynegy.
The Brattle Group issued a study earlier this year that said energy storage markets could grow to as much as 50,000 megawatts over a decade if cost continue to fall and if federal policies that promoting the technology take root. Those policies must also be matched at the state level, it says.