California forces utilities to invest in storage

In advance of the new California energy storage legislation, PG&E (one of the state's three energy utilities, along with San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison) has been testing battery storage systems. Photo credit: Pacific Gas and Electric  Company

In advance of the California energy storage legislation, PG&E (one of the three utilities, with San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison) has been testing battery storage systems. Photo credit: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

After two and a half years wrangling, we finally got an agreement… and it was unanimous. On October 17, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a press release confirming that the state’s three utilities would be forced to adopt 1,325MW of energy storage, which must be up and running by the end of 2024.

This is being lauded as a first for the US, an unprecedented step forward in the integration of renewable energy into a major grid system, plus a huge boost for the energy storage industry.
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Coda opens San Francisco charging station

Electric vehicle charging, California

Electric vehicle charging facility. Photo credit: California Energy Commission

Coda Energy, with Energy Vault and Growing Energy Labs (GELI), will deploy the first solar integrated electric vehicle fast-charging station optimised by energy storage in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA.
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US incentives for energy storage

PG&E recently inaugurated the largest battery energy storage system in California at Yerba Buena, San Jose.

PG&E – one of the utilities that must introduce a PLS programme – recently inaugurated the largest battery energy storage system in California, at Yerba Buena, San Jose. Photo credit: PG&E

We are firm believers that most new technologies that might have benefits for society and the planet will never triumph through blind market forces alone and need to have at least some of their costs subsidised before they gain the economies of scale needed to compete successfully.

Thankfully, despite its free market rhetoric, the US government seems as wedded to Keynesianism as those of Europe, either through direct incentives, tax-breaks and partnerships, or through the perennial back-door of the Pentagon’s military budget.
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California grid to acquire extra energy storage

The California Public Utilities Commission has unanimously approved a long-term procurement decision which requires Southern California Edison to obtain at least 50MW of energy storage capacity by 2021. The decision came as part of a much wider move to boost the Sunshine State’s total grid capacity by an additional 600 MW.

Another reason for energy storage

A very interesting article from Gigaom.com crossed our radar yesterday. If its information is reliable (and there’s no reason to doubt it is), it provides a solid case for selling energy storage as a way to avoid spending on massive generating capacity that is rarely used.

The argument runs roughly like this: on most days, California’s electricity demand ranges between about 23GW and 36GW, but occasionally peaks at over 40GW, although this only happens for 70 hours in a year. In order to meet this peak demand, California has to supply the power that would be generated by 20 nuclear power stations. Of course, some of this capacity is idle a lot of the time.

Clearly, the current centralised type of energy grid that has to build huge, expensive generation plants to supply power for a total of less than three days a year is highly wasteful. A more flexible, distributed system, with plenty of energy storage, would be a much more effective way to keep the lights on.