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Renewables Grid-Scale Battery Storage

Updated: Mar 4

Driven by technological advances, facilities are being built with storage systems that can hold enough renewable energy to power hundreds of thousands of homes. The advent of “big battery” technology addresses a key challenge for green energy — the intermittency of wind and solar.

California is currently the global leader in the deployment of high-capacity batteries.

In the U.S., a record 1.2 gigawatts of storage have been installed so far this year.

Batteries are beginning to reach a size that enables renewables to replace medium-sized natural gas generators.

When the gigantic Moss Landing project becomes fully operational in mid-2021, it will more than double the amount of energy storage in California. Several other states are also now embarking on major energy storage projects. Among them: New York’s 316-megawatt Ravenswood project will be able to power more than 250,000 homes for up to eight hours, replacing two natural gas peaker plants in the New York City borough of Queens. And the 409-megawatt Manatee system planned for South Florida will be charged by an adjacent solar plant. Touted by utility Florida Power & Light as the world’s largest solar-powered battery system, the facility will replace two aging natural gas-fired units.

Nationwide, a record 1.2 gigawatts of storage have been installed so far this year, according to Wood MacKenzie, a natural resources research and consulting firm. That number is projected to jump dramatically over the next five years, rising to nearly 7.5 gigawatts in 2025. Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the U.S. Energy Storage Association, says that battery storage additions doubled in 2020, and would likely have tripled had it not been for construction slowdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite its leadership in renewable energy development, Europe has been slower to get on board with storage. “In general, Europe is a bit more conservative,” says Daniele Gatti, analyst for IDTechEx, a United Kingdom-based market research firm specializing in emerging technology. Energy storage development in Europe has been hindered by a restrictive electricity market dominated by government auctions that tend to undervalue storage. Still, some big-battery projects are now taking shape, including the 320-megawatt Gateway system to be built at a new port facility near London.

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