US energy storage momentum builds with two significant announcements

Enel Green Power carried off the lion’s share of new storage capacity procured by PG&E. Shown here: Enel Green Power technicians at a wind farm in Minnesota. Pic: Enel.

By Jason Deign

The US energy storage sector looks set to enter 2018 at full throttle following developments in two key markets over the last week.
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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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PG&E wins CAES research grant

In the last issue of Energy Storage Report, we ran a story about Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California issuing an energy storage request for information (RFI), which we interpreted as the company dipping its toe into the energy storage pool. Well, it looks like we were right.The California Energy Commission (CEC) has announced that it has awarded PG&E a US$1m grant to demonstrate a compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant. San Francisco-based PG&E is planning to compress air into depleted natural gas reservoirs using excess wind energy. The air would then be released through a turbine to generate electricity for the grid, as required.The idea is that, should the results be promising, the CEC would sign up to a proportion of a further $50m needed to help see the project through to completion, with the remaining balance of the $50m provided by the US Department of Energy and other sources.

PG&E ponders large-scale energy storage

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California has announced its intention to issue an Energy Storage Request for Information (RFI), theRenewable + Law Blog reports. The purpose of the RFI – according to the post – is to get the skinny on utility-scale, dispatchable and flexible storage resources.

The aim, apparently, is to evaluate the energy storage solutions on offer, their manufacturers, and costs, presumably with a view to future investment, although the company has not stated this directly. If you are interested in participating, PG&E will also be launching a website next week, which will list the questions that will appear on the RFI. In addition, you can submit comments or questions by mailing: