By BEN COOK
- Texas is among leading US states for storage deployment
- Energy companies snapping up storage assets in the ‘Lone Star State’
- State’s lack of secure energy supply driving innovation
One of the US states currently deploying the largest amounts of grid-scale energy storage is Texas.
Indeed, one energy sector CEO recently remarked that the state had “one of the fastest growing markets in the world for energy storage”.
Figures published in a report by American Clean Power and Wood Mackenzie showed that, in the first quarter of this year, 747MW / 2.4 GWh of grid scale energy storage was installed in the US, the highest Q1 volume on record. And the report added that Texas was one of three states (along with California and Nevada) where most deployments were taking place.
So what’s driving the surge in storage deployment in the ‘Lone Star State’?
As the old proverb states, ‘necessity is the mother invention’, and this explains why Texas is among the leading US states when it comes to energy storage deployment.
Simply put, the ‘Lone Star State’ needs to do all it can to store its reserves of renewable energy because its energy supply is not guaranteed.
In extreme weather – either hot or cold – the state is vulnerable to power blackouts. Last month, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state’s electrical grid, warned that rolling blackouts were a possibility due to surging energy demand as temperatures soared to 100 degrees.
Last year, it was extremely cold weather that was wreaking havoc in Texas when record low temperatures in February 2021 led to the state’s power grid failing, with the result that millions of people were left without access to electricity.
Storage ‘gold rush’
Unsurprisingly, with the state anxious to develop the capacity to provide a reliable supply of electricity, the Texas energy sector has become a hive of activity with opportunities in abundance.
Last month, Cypress Creek Renewables added 400MW/600MWh to its storage portfolio after acquiring four Texas standalone energy storage projects from Black Mountain Energy Storage. The projects, each 100MW, are located throughout the ERCOT market and are currently under development. Commenting on the deal, Cypress Creek director of M&A Jack Murray (pictured, left) conjured up images of a storage ‘gold rush’ in the state. “ERCOT is an incredibly dynamic power market, and standalone storage assets will continue to provide opportunities to increase grid reliability through flexible and dispatchable resources,” he said.
A world leader in storage?
Back in June, Recurrent Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian Solar acquired two standalone energy storage projects in Texas from Black Mountain Energy Storage. The projects, which are in the South Load Zone of the Texas ERCOT will each store up to 200MWh of energy.
Discussing the deal, Dr. Shawn Qu (pictured, right), chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar, was unequivocal in his assessment of the Texan storage market: “ERCOT is one of the fastest growing markets in the world for energy storage, driven by market demand for flexible capacity.”
The biggest energy companies in the world have also been looking to get in on the act. In April this year, it was announced that TotalEnergies would be acquiring Austin, Texas-based Core Solar LLC, which has a portfolio that includes more than 4GW of utility-scale solar and energy storage projects at various stages of development.
Texas: A storage innovation hub
Meanwhile, other notable recent deals involving Texan energy storage assets included independent power producer Broad Reach Power’s purchase of more than 900MWh of battery systems from lithium-ion battery developer and manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) – Broad Reach Power plans to install the systems in projects in Texas in 2023.
Unsurprisingly, Texas is also becoming somewhat of an energy storage innovation hub. Texas-based start-up Bemp Research Corp has – in conjunction with the University of North Texas – been developing a boron carbide-type battery made out of hemp as it plans to “disrupt the $150 billion dollar battery market”.
Meanwhile, engineers at the University of Texas – in partnership with peers at the University of Porto – are developing a glass battery, which consists of glass spiked with sodium ions.
The Texas energy storage market is certainly growing at dramatic rate, and with considerable doubts persisting about the reliability of the state’s energy supply, it could create a fertile environment for some of the most innovative developments in the world of storage.