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Are Batteries Breaking Barriers for Renewables?

image credit: ID 165017038 © Malpetr |

After wildfire prevention power shutoffs and blackouts caused by equipment failure more and more consumers are looking for energy solutions.  Residents in California are using battery systems to combat utility shutoffs. After a city-wide outage, New York’s JFK Airport is installing solar-plus-storage to reduce its power load by 10 percent.  Businesses and residents are not the only ones looking to battery systems for stability.  Last month, Australia announced their commitment to expanding the landmark Hornsdale battery project in South Australia.  Currently at 129MWh capacity, the battery system has already delivered AU$50 million in savings.  The expansion will no doubt continue to reduce costs and increase stability.   

Here in the states, Italy’s Enel has installed New York City’s biggest battery storage system to help power the Brooklyn area during periods of peak demand.  Like South Australia, Brooklyn will use battery storage systems to support the grid when demand is high.  The 16.4 MWh battery system in NY will also help cut emissions.  Last week, Nevada Public Utilities Commission approved NV Energy's Integrated Resource Plan, including three solar projects with energy storage.  The Arrow Canyon Solar project will construct a 200 MW solar facility paired with a 75 MW, 5-hour battery system.  The Southern Bighorn Solar & Storage Center project includes a 300 MW solar array with a 135 MW, 4-hour battery energy storage system.  Federally owned land will house the Gemini Solar+Storage project, with a 690 MW solar facility and a 380 MW battery storage system.  Upon completion the projects will bring an additional 1,190 megawatts of new solar renewable energy to Nevada and an additional 590 megawatts of energy storage capacity.  Big and small, utilities are adding storage to their renewables mix.  Green City, MO, population 608, is getting 2.5 MW of solar plus four hours of battery storage from their utility next year.

According to experts, lithium-ion batteries will likely be the dominant technology for the next five to 10 years.  With improvements to capacity, utility-scale energy storage could use solar-generated power to cover evening peak demands.  The plummeting price of building a solar-plus-storage generating facility is now cheaper than operating a coal-fired power plant and equal to some natural gas plants.  In the past, Australia has suffered record high temperatures and power outages. New York faced equipment failure that led to a major blackout and places like Nevada experience extreme demand everyday.  For these states and areas that have endured natural disasters and massive power outages, solar-plus-storage is taking center stage.  Currently, more than 30 states have renewable storage on the grid and utilities have received approval for 7 gigawatts of storage, to be installed by 2030. Utility-scale energy storage is definitely on the rise.  With battery capacity increasing, have we removed the limitations of renewable energy?

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 9, 2019 10:17 pm GMT

Here in the states, Italy’s Enel has installed New York City’s biggest battery storage system to help power the Brooklyn area during periods of peak demand.  Like South Australia, Brooklyn will use battery storage systems to support the grid when demand is high.

This application of energy storage isn't talked about enough-- it's much more affordable and effective to build out this than have to build new and capital expensive generation that will only seldomly be needed and used

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