California is trying to squeeze fossil fuels out of its energy mix. Legislation was signed In September requiring the state to have carbon-free power sources by 2045.
To help integrate the increasing amount of intermittent wind and solar power, the state has mandated utilities to add 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage to the grid by 2020.
The state’s utilities commission plans to replace three of its natural gas-fired power plants that are at risk of retirement with battery-storage systems. On November 8, four Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) energy-storage contracts were approved in a 4-1 vote to support Northern California’s electric grid. A move one Commissioner called, “only one step in the broader challenge we face in managing the state’s fossil fuel fleet.”
The four lithium-ion battery storage projects all offering a 4-hour discharge duration include 180-megawatts designed and built by Tesla, a 300-megawatt installation owned by a unit of Vistra Energy Corp, a Hummingbird Energy Storage LLC 75-megawatt project and 10-megawatts of capacity at customer locations by Micronoc Inc. All of these projects would be located in and around Silicon Valley in the South Bay area. The current national average of homes powered by one megawatt of solar is 164, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
According to the California Energy Commission, the state relies on gas for about 34 percent of its electricity.
This is “only one step in a broader challenge…” But that is where all journeys begin.
While no cost details were provided by the utility in making its announcement, PG&E sought to promote the role of storage as integral to facilitating increased amounts of renewable energy onto the state’s electric grid.They cited energy storage presently competing with “traditional solutions” such as fossil-fueled power plants due to decreasing battery prices.
When it comes to a specific type of power generation known as “peaking capacity” there is growing evidence that battery energy storage can beat natural gas on price.
Fast-start power plants are so named “peakers” as they are typically called on for power generation when consumer demand for electricity is highest. That’s usually a hot summer day when air conditioners are cranked up.
A 15-year deal for peaking power from a solar-powered battery was signed earlier this year in Arizona. Other forms of peaking generation, including natural gas lost out to 50-megawatts of storage. When the sun is high in the sky, the PV solar array will power the storage array, electricity to be delivered to customers at peak times of demand.
Arizona Public Service plans to put more than 500-megawatts of additional battery storage capacity in place over the next 15 years.
By 2030 it has been proposed that the state utilities install another 3,000-megawatts of storage.