“Californians want clean, renewable energy, and energy storage is an important part of that. [AB 2514] will help reduce global warming emissions, improve air quality, and will be a major step towards energy independence.”
Jerry Brown, California Attorney General, Sept. 29, 2010
Grid storage is not a new concept. There are over 125,000 megawatts installed worldwide, including nearly two and a half thousand megawatts of what we call ‘advanced energy storage’: advanced batteries, thermal energy storage, flywheels and other technologies beyond pumped hydro storage. Advanced Energy Storage projects announced and under construction will soon double that installed capacity.
The need for energy storage has been long recognized; after all, electricity is perhaps the only commodity in today’s economy that is both essential on an as-demanded 24/7 basis, and to date, has not been ‘stored’ in inventory. And the need for storage is expected to grow rapidly in coming years due to the confluence of multiple factors, including the deployment of large amounts of renewable energy sources, the currently decreasing load factors of power system assets, and the increasing cost and difficulty in siting and building powerplants and transmission lines.
Fortunately, energy storage is a proven class of technologies that has been in existence for decades. Concurrently, due to tremendous and exciting technological progress in recent years there are now a wide range of affordable and reliable storage options available for utilities, and a host of large existing and new companies are now delivering grid connected storage to the marketplace. This means that the cost of providing storage is coming down quickly – and even today, storage is more cost-effective than the traditional route of just trying to build more and more inefficient and unneeded peaking powerplants and transmission lines (please see CESA whitepaper “Energy Storage, A Cheaper and Cleaner Alternative to Natural Gas Fired Peakers).
CESA is advocating for changing how California thinks about our electric infrastructure, as current policy has not kept pace with advances in energy storage. We have historically thought about our electric system in terms of supply, demand, transmission and distribution. Energy storage can fit into all of these categories, yet until now, has not been a focus area for California.