This special interest group is for professionals to connect and discuss all types of carbon-free power alternatives, including nuclear, renewable, tidal and more.

Post

A picture worth a thousand words – California’s big new batteries

image credit: Adobe Stock
Kent Knutson's picture
Energy Market Specialist Hitachi ABB Power Grids

Kent Knutson is a market specialist focusing on energy industry intelligence for Hitachi ABB Power Grids Enterprise Software Product Group.  He has more than 30 years of experience designing and...

  • Member since 2018
  • 139 items added with 104,079 views
  • Aug 12, 2021 6:12 pm GMT
  • 507 views

California’s grid batteries make 2021 splash. What a difference a year makes. According to California ISO (CAISO) data compiled by the Hitachi ABB Power Grids’ Velocity Suite research team, utility-scale battery storage systems are performing well in 2021. Just one year ago, in July 2020, the charge and discharge data from the state’s utility-scale batteries was barely a heartbeat. Flash forward to July 2021, and the curve derived from average hourly net energy shows a dramatically different story with most net charging occurring predominately between 7:00 AM and 4:00 PM PST – about the same time solar is ramped up across the market. Net discharging is occurring later, during the evening peak, from around 6:00 PM PST through the remainder of the day.

Your access to Member Features is limited.

California ISO daily battery net energy by the hour

July 2021, MWh

No alt text provided for this image

July 2020, MWh

No alt text provided for this image

On July 27, 2021, during the two-hour period, between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM, the average hourly discharge reached 1,022 MW. The average discharge for all days of the month during those two high-load hours was 645 MW. The highest average hourly discharge during the month was 1,135 MW on July 27, between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM PST. The numbers are growing fast, already on August 7 (Saturday) 2021, the CAISO reported an average 5-minute discharge of 1,276 MW at 7:10 PM PST. These numbers are sure to continue upward as the year unwinds and several projects currently under construction enter service.

There are currently about 1,200 MW of operating battery systems in California with about 2,000 MW under construction or testing. There are approximately 4,000 MW of additional capacity expected online across the state by the end of 2024, this from data compiled by the Velocity Suite research team. Some of the largest projects to enter service during the past year include LS Power’s Gateway Energy Storage Project (250 MW/250 MWh), AES Corporation’s Alamitos Energy Center (100 MW/400 MWh), NextEra Energy’s Blythe Solar projects (250MW/1,000 MWh), Arevon Asset Management’s Saticoy battery energy storage project (100 MW/400 MWh) and the largest installation so far, Vistra Energy’s Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility (300 MW/1,200 MWh) facility. NextEra is on schedule for the Blythe and McCoy Energy Storage complex (523 MW/2,093 MWh) to be operational by the end of August. In addition, the Moss Landing project is on schedule to add an additional 100 MW/400 MWh facility this month.

One of the key drivers behind the rapid growth in battery storage is the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that is currently available for solar plus storage hybrid projects. That could become even more attractive if legislation is passed to allow stand-alone battery storage projects to qualify for the ITC without being combined with solar. Today, across the U.S., there are roughly 2 GW of operating battery storage projects with nearly 11 GW in various stages of development – all scheduled for completion between now and the end of 2024.

Solving renewable energy’s greatest hurdle, intermittency, will take a large amount of storage capacity – both short-duration (hours) and long-duration (days). Maintaining a reliable power grid while continuing to grow solar and wind resources depends on successful storage project implementation. The future glows brightly for the current array of battery storage technologies and other, yet to be developed, electricity storage technologies. What a difference a year makes.

Kent Knutson's picture
Thank Kent for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member
Discussions
Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 12, 2021

Kent, you do realize that:

• the batteries at California's "solar plus storage hybrid projects" are not charging from the adjacent solar farm, but from a grid mix?
• the batteries are only located next to a solar farm for appearance, and could be charged more efficiently at any node on the power grid?
• the largest grid-scale battery in California - Vistra Energy’s Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility (300 MW/1,200 MWh) - is not even charging from a grid mix, but the direct output of the fifth-largest gas plant in the state?

By charging from either a gas plant or a grid mix, grid scale batteries - due to inherent inefficiencies in conversion from AC power to DC power, then from electricity to electrochemical energy and back again - waste energy, and thus create even more emissions than the energy with which they were charged. For Moss Landing that means 407 kg/MWh of added CO2 emissions, or twice what Moss Landing Power Plant would emit without storage:

"Bulk energy storage is generally considered an important contributor for the transition toward a more flexible and sustainable electricity system. Although economically valuable, storage is not fundamentally a “green” technology, leading to reductions in emissions. We model the economic and emissions effects of bulk energy storage providing an energy arbitrage service. We calculate the profits under two scenarios (perfect and imperfect information about future electricity prices), and estimate the effect of bulk storage on net emissions of CO2, SO2, and NOx for 20 eGRID subregions in the United States. We find that net system CO2 emissions resulting from storage operation are nontrivial when compared to the emissions from electricity generation, ranging from 104 to 407 kg/MWh of delivered energy depending on location, storage operation mode, and assumptions regarding carbon intensity."

Bulk Energy Storage Increases United States Electricity System Emissions

"The future glows brightly for the current array of battery storage technologies and other, yet to be developed, electricity storage technologies. What a difference a year makes."

Extremely disappointing to read comments like this, written by someone with eyes wide shut about the reality of what energy storage means for California and climate change. It has nothing to do with reducing carbon emissions, and everything to do with selling more natural gas.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 13, 2021

Bob,

Extremely disappointing that you are still not looking at where the puck is going.

You quote a study from Jan 2015 - which at best would have used solar data from California in 2014. Solar generation in CA was 15 TWh in 2014 vs 48 TWh in 2020 and is up another 18% YTD in 2021.  The daily mix of fuel has totally changed on CAISO in the last six years and will continue to change in the coming years.

So for example, the CAISO fuel mix chart below is from May of this year.  In another few years that green line will be 4-5 GW higher during daylight and the orange NG line will be bouncing along near zero.  Also, CA will be exporting during daylight hours.   In other words battery charging - at least during spring months - will be from zero carbon sources.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 14, 2021

"Extremely disappointing that you are still not looking at where the puck is going."

Sure, Joe. I've been hearing "where the puck is going" since 1979, and you know what? Somehow it always misses the net.

For example: "In another few years," you say, "that green line will be 4-5 GW higher," and "the green line will be bouncing along near zero." Why not now? The green line flattens out at 8 AM not because there isn't enough solar to shut California gas plants down (there's more than enough), but because there are $millions to be made curtailing solar so natural gas can be billed to electricity customers.

I'd challenge you to show me one minute, in the last year, where renewables have shut California gas plants down - but I know you can't, and there's a reason. Not because there isn't enough renewables generation, but because promoting renewables has nothing to do with clean energy. It's. All. About. Selling. More. Gas.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 16, 2021

For example: "In another few years," you say, "that green line will be 4-5 GW higher," and "the green line will be bouncing along near zero." Why not now? The green line flattens out at 8 AM not because there isn't enough solar to shut California gas plants down (there's more than enough), but because there are $millions to be made curtailing solar so natural gas can be billed to electricity customers.

The conspiracy theories are getting wackier...

California currently has 13.3 Gw of utility- scale solar.   Can you explain how that is enough solar to shutdown NG totally? 

As far as renewables shutting down NG for "even one minute" - just look at the graph. The 17-18GW of midday renewables meant that NG was only 5GW instead of 22-23GW. Renewables shut a "17-18GW chunk" NG plants down for that time period. Thats a lot more than a minute.

I doubt it will help but if you want to see the rise in  maximum solar over the last  few years on CAISO check out the Monthly Renewables Performance Reports

YTD max Solar

  • Dec 2017 - 9,914 MW
  • Dec 2018 - 10,740 MW
  • Dec 2019 - 11,473 MW
  • Dec 2020 - 12,016 MW
  • Jun 2021 - 13,025 MW

This stuff is not that hard Bob - its easy to see where things will be in 4-5 years - no conspiracy theories needed.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 16, 2021

Joe, you and your wacky "conspiracy theories". You tell me: why is solar production flat from 8AM to 5PM? Was there a big cloud that covered California that day, or maybe a solar eclipse? A huge flock of seagulls?

Then you can explain why, from 2017-2020, installed capacity numbers rose 233% faster than YTD max solar output:

Kinda thought max solar output might have some relationship to how many panels were installed. Was a law passed in 2017 requiring new solar farms be built in forests? Or maybe the huge flock of seagulls started pooping on the panels each day at 8AM, forcing an army of Sierra Club activists to mobilize with scrub brushes and soapy water...

Maybe you can't explain, but I sure would like to hear you try!

 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 17, 2021

Bob, not sure where you are getting your numbers from... but they appear to include rooftop solar.

Take a look at your favorite source - EIA data - and see what current CA solar capacity numbers are. However, you should only consider Utility Scale - which is current 13,277 MW.  Do you see that?

If you look at the Utility scale capacity numbers for June of each year they will match up almost perfectly with the rise of max solar. No conspiracy theory needed.

Since, the small solar is "behind the meter" it is not measured by CAISO. However, it has served to help keep total CAISO generation flat or even slightly down over the last 5-7 years.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 17, 2021

Still waiting on that explanation for why California solar generation is flat, from 8AM to 5PM, each day, every day <crickets>...

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 17, 2021

Bob,

Still waiting on that explanation for why California solar generation is flat, from 8AM to 5PM, each day, every day <crickets>...

No explanation needed because it's not flat from 8am to 5pm.  You're looking at the green line in the chart above - that's renewables not solar.

The breakdown for Renewables is a separate chart. Below is a sample renewables chart - solar(orange) climbs till about noon, flattens out for a couple of hours and then drops. If you want to see the actual numbers - look here.

If you want another day - this shows hourly numbers from yesterday.

Pick any day Bob - solar is never flat from 8am - 5pm.

Everything performing as expected...

After a couple of "dud" years for solar growth - due to early attainment of 2020 renewables standard and CCA transition - expect to see more solar additions in 2021 and 2022.  The solar line will move up a few GWs and the NG line will move down a few GWs. Pretty simple.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 18, 2021

"...it's not flat from 8am to 5pm.  You're looking at the green line in the chart above - that's renewables not solar."

Joe, you and CAISO are true artists at distorting graphs to exaggerate the effectiveness of meager, intermittent renewable power.

CAISO always shows the daily graph of solar separated from other sources of generation. Why? Because showing them together might give Californians an idea of the monumental waste of money they're paying to integrate medieval sources of energy into a 21st century power grid.

I've taken the liberty of adding your puffed-up solar curve to a graph of all sources to show it in true proportion. As you can see, solar production (orange line) is even flatter than all renewables combined. Together with batteries, it's shaving at most 1 of 26 gigawatts (4%) from natural gas power at peak consumption - for all practical purposes, nothing.

Off topic, thought you might be interested in this - from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), another source of 100%-renewable energy that will soon revolutionize production of olive oil in California:

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 19, 2021

Together with batteries, it's shaving at most 1 of 26 gigawatts (4%) from natural gas power at peak consumption - for all practical purposes, nothing.

Bob,

Love how you think NG peak for that day would still be at 26GW without Solar/Batteries. 

Your algebra teacher would be disappointed.

Hint: remove solar from chart and see how that affects NG numbers between 2-8pm. Extra credit - don't forget the additional rooftop solar which is not on chart.

Also just to review the math you did attempt - the NG peak on the graph occurred at 19:05 - 25,633 MW.  At that point in time solar generation was 2,057 MW and battery discharge was 1,189 MW. So solar+ battery = 3,246 MW.   This would be 12.7% of the graphed NG peak consumption - not 4%. Is that still practically nothing? 

Note: Nuclear at that point in time was 2,272 MW or 8.9% . Would that also be practically nothing?

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 20, 2021

"California has hooked up a grid battery system that is almost ten times bigger than the previous world record holder, but when it comes to making renewables reliable it is so small it might as well not exist."

California secretly struggles with renewables

Kent Knutson's picture
Kent Knutson on Aug 13, 2021

Bob, I don't believe I mention fuels, emissions, carbon, or climate in this article.  It's just about the charge and discharge data and how it's changed since last year.    

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 13, 2021

Kent, you write

"Solving renewable energy’s greatest hurdle, intermittency, will take a large amount of storage capacity – both short-duration (hours) and long-duration (days). "

Renewable energy is all about reducing emissions. Does the future "glow brightly" because reducing emissions can be disingenuously used as a marketing technique for batteries?

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 13, 2021

Kent,

Great recap of storage situation in CA. I particularly like the two graphs comparing July last year vs this year. 

Although storage installations in CA have performed beyond my expectation - I don't think it will be enough for the CAISO grid to avoid rolling blackouts this year or next.  Storage capacity  will probably need to get to about 7GW to compensate for the decline in Hydro and some of the recent NG closures. I think CA will be close to 7GW of storage by summer of 2023.

Couple of other items I would add -

1) behind the meter storage. As homeowners move to EVs many of them are adding solar/storage and/or adding storage to already existing solar systems. Lawrence Berkeley Lab has a new study on this trend.

Through year-end 2020, roughly 550 MW of storage has been paired with solar in “behind-the- meter” (BTM) applications, representing about 17% of all U.S. battery storage capacity installed through 2020. Residential installations make up the bulk (roughly two-thirds) of all paired BTM storage capacity, partly because almost all residential storage capacity is paired with solar. In contrast, non-residential storage is more often installed on a stand-alone basis.

Deployment trends for BTM solar+storage are often described in terms of attachment rates, which refers to the percentage of solar installs each year that include storage. As shown in Fig. 1, attachment rates, nationally, are still quite low: just 6% of all U.S. residential PV systems and 2% of all non-residential systems installed in 2020 included storage. However, much higher attachment rates have been realized within individual states and utility service territories. Hawaii, in particular, is in a class of its own, with roughly 80% of all residential PV systems installed in 2020, and 40% of all non-residential PV installs paired with storage. Trends in Hawaii have been driven to a significant degree by the state’s transition from net metering. California has also seen relatively high residential attachment rates, driven by a combination of direct cash rebates for storage equipment and growing concerns about wildfire-related power outages. Given the sheer size of the California market, the state represents the overwhelming majority of all BTM solar+storage systems installed to-date.

2) Other Western States - solar/storage is also expanding rapidly in Nevada and Arizona. As prices continue to fall - expect this trend to continue and every Western state will soon have large solar/storage projects online. This will improve flexibility of entire Western grid.

Kent Knutson's picture
Kent Knutson on Aug 13, 2021

Bob, there are a lot of different technologies being looked at and invested in to solve the 'intermittency' of variable resources -- large-scale batteries represent just one technology.  The best solutions in terms of effectiveness and cost will rise up to fill the need.  As I pointed out, reliability and grid resilience depends on existing and yet to be developed technologies.  Thanks for your comments.    

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 19, 2021

"The best solutions in terms of effectiveness and cost will rise up to fill the need."

Kent, at present there is no solution to the intermittency of solar and wind that is remotely cost-effective, including 'large-scale batteries'. At this critical juncture, placing all of our bets on some miraculous, yet-to-be-developed technology is, at best, irresponsible.
 

Kent Knutson's picture
Kent Knutson on Aug 13, 2021

Joe, awesome comments . . . I saw this story this morning on NREL's work to bring Maui to 100% renewable by 2024 . . . https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2021/08/02/as-maui-approaches-100-renewables... . . . I thought you would enjoy it.  It is good to be an island and have a nice climate -- roughly 80 degrees every day of the year.  LOL!  it will be interesting to see how the island handles energy in three years.   Again, thx for sharing your comments.

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »