Sooner Than you Think: Energy Storage Revolution

September 19, 2017

Utility Dive:

California is a leader in both renewable energy resources and energy storage. The state has one of the highest renewable portfolio standards in the U.S., mandating that 50% of all electric power be sourced from renewable resources by 2030, and the state has the first and some of the most robust incentives for energy storage.

AB 2514 requires the state’s three investor owned utilities to procure 1.3 GW of energy storage by 2020, and AB 2868 requires each IOU to deploy an additional 166 MW of behind-the-meter and/or distribution tied storage.

The IOUs are already well on their way to meet their goals. Southern California Edison has 400 MW of storage in its portfolio toward its 582 MW target. But installing energy storage is one thing, using it to meet other goals is another.

California is a restructured state, so utilities there generally do not own or build power plants. Nor do utilities control the dispatch of those plants. That is the job of the California ISO.

Soaking up solar power during the day and dispatching it in the evening is often cited as a renewable-enabling use for energy storage, but in practice the renewable-enabling potential of storage is often not so simple.

SCE, for instance, does not necessarily make decisions to charge batteries when solar power output is abundant and to discharge them when solar power begins to wane. But the utility still owns some generation assets and is responsible for how it bids those assets into CAISO’s real-time and day-ahead energy markets.

Storage + gas

SCE has found that one of the not so obvious, but most effective uses for energy storage is combining it with a conventional power plant. In April, SCE installed what it called the “world’s first” low-emission hybrid battery storage-gas turbine peaker system. The so-called Hybrid Enhanced Gas Turbine (Hybrid EGT) was the result of a partnership between SCE, GE and Wellhead Power Solutions. SCE installed the systems at substations in Norwalk and Rancho Cucamonga. Each system pairs an 11 MW, 4.3 MWh battery with a 50 MW peaker

“It is a novel way of installing storage,” Vibhu Kaushik, principal manager, asset management and generation strategy, at SCE told Utility Dive.

Adding batteries to the turbines means that the machines are always on and can be used respond to CAISO’s frequency regulation market. The peakers were already participating in that market, but the batteries let them respond more quickly and be relieved by the peakers when they ramp up five or 10 minutes later. Those five minutes add up. Over the life of the plant – it is about seven years into an expected 40 year life – the batteries will reduce operating costs by 60%, and the batteries will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut water consumption by 2 million gallons a year, Kaushik said.

SCE is pleased with the program and looking at adding storage to more of its peakers and even to some of its hydroelectric plants. Even though hydropower ramps quickly and has traditionally been used for frequency response, adding storage would improve a hydro asset’s response time and provide more flexibility, Kaushik said.

SCE owns about 3,200 MW of generation assets, including 33 hydroelectric plants, five gas-fired peaking plants, and one combined-cycle gas plant. In addition, due to the storage procurement mandated by the state in response to the 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leaks, SCE owns one of the largest energy storage facilities in the country.

Working with Tesla, SCE installed two 10 MW battery systems with a combined output of 80 MWh at its Mira Loma substation about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The batteries usually charge at night when the wind is blowing and energy prices are low and discharge during the day when they are bid into the frequency regulation market or the peak energy market. Once again, though, SCE is not dispatching the batteries; that is CAISO’s job.

“Our job is to report the true availability and marginal costs of the units,” Kaushik said. But storage is a unique asset. It is both supply and load, but as a supply asset it is limited because it cannot generate indefinitely. Charging batteries means buying energy. The trick is to bid the assets into the market so that the value of discharge is greater than the value of charging. So far, the Mira Loma units have performed well, Kaushik reported. They have been dispatched every day since the end December, and they are “in the money.”

Looking at more storage

SCE is looking at deploying more storage projects, but Kaushik is less bullish on the prospects of a stand-alone battery installation than he is on hybrid applications. A stand-alone battery does not have a lot of “positive value,” he said, at least not absent other considerations. For instance, one of the keys to making an installation like Mira Loma work, he said, is finding locations where congestion pricing is high.

And as battery prices continue to decline in the coming years, Kaushik said more storage projects “might pencil out.” Overall, he said, “energy storage is a very important part of our renewable mix as we move toward the 50% RPS target.” By providing more accurate frequency response, storage could be used to integrate more wind and solar on our system.




25 Responses to “Sooner Than you Think: Energy Storage Revolution”

  1. indy222 Says:

    beware of these Wall St originated promo’s. They over-sell the rosy prospects (buy buy buy!!!) and neglect the technical challenges that have so far left these ideas perpetually “right around the corner”. Not saying breakthrough’s won’t solve some problems, only that you are being SPUN by taking such promo pieces from Bloomberg at face value. Consider the agendas of those who put in the time and money and effort to generate these pieces. You think it’s just for your education? Example, ultra-capacitors were going to revolutionize storage 10 years ago, with promises of commercialization in just a year or two…. still unfulfilled. Same with ‘liquid batteries’, who can’t seem to maintain their charge. Techno fixes in any case are only going to keep us on the path to an over-burdened Earth and overshoot-and-crash trajectories of global growth.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yep, beware the marketers—anyway, fusion power is soon going to give us an energy source that will truly be too cheap to meter!

      Bright-sidedness (and Donald Trump) will save the human race from itself!!

      • webej Says:

        As countries like China invest in the economy of the future, the US is bringing back coal, manufacturing jobs which pay no more than Chinese and Mexican wages, and is opting out of a co-operative, let alone a leadership role in climate change mitigation (because the Chinese are producing CO² !). Not to worry, they can keep their competitive edge with more trade wars and sanctions on the rest of the world.

  2. Canman Says:

    At 45 seconds in, he claims Texas gets a quarter of its electricity from wind. Where’d he get that number? Here’s what I found:

    • And here’s what I found:

      “Wind generation accounted for nearly 23 percent of power generation for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) in the first quarter of 2017, the Lone Star State grid operator said this week.”


      “This is pushing coal off the grid,” said Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University.

      • Canman Says:

        ERCOT is not all of Texas’ electricity (85% according to Wikipedia). This 23% number is for one quarter only. Some quotes from the Scientific American link:

        There is a list of caveats that come with the new data, which were released Monday as part of ERCOT’s monthly demand and energy report. First, the winter is the windiest time of year in Texas. It is also a season when power demand wanes and many plants shut down for maintenance.

        Natural gas has long been coal’s most formidable competition in Texas. Last year, gas accounted for 44 percent of ERCOT’s electricity generation. Coal and wind represented 29 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

    • webej Says:

      Perhaps its a quarter when the wind is blowing, not total KWh.

      • ubrew12 Says:

        The subject of the video is ‘curtailment’. I don’t for sure, but I think he’s saying that if Texas wind could magically blow when Texas turns on the A/C, it would be 25%. Batteries could make that happen.

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    The only problem with batteries right f. now is that we live in a system that prioritizes profit over survival.

    That is, we live in an insane society.

    So we can’t do much until either a. the prices of batteries, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal… come down to a level that people and corporations making the decisions decide it’s profitable enough to save civilization and millions of threatened species or b. we ditch the insane part of society. The video mentions “the next decade” a couple of times, during which the deaths of billions of people and extinction of tens or hundreds of thousands of species may be guaranteed.
    So sure, let’s wait. The price isn’t quite low enough to do anything yet.

    There are times I want humanity to decide not to do anything because clearly we don’t deserve to survive and the world is better off without us.

    Then I remember that only a small part of humanity is causing the problem, and when we go we won’t go gentle.

    Wearily, i go back to working on solutions.

  4. fredeliot Says:

    Here is a recent comparison of technologies. There are reasons to hope for some of the announced technologies in the labs will make it to market.

  5. greenman3610 Says:

    takeaway, batteries are improving more rapidly than predicted, and have potential to disrupt the market. Experts disagree on how quickly.

  6. sheilach2 Says:

    What people continue to overlook is that these “renewables” are dependent upon RESOURCES like OIL to exist.
    Manufacturing them & mining the raw materials they need from all over the planet still needs the high density, reliable energy found only in OIL, COAL & NATURAL GAS, batteries are a low density, heavy, bulky storage system that needs RESOURCES acquired by OIL & from OIL to exist.

    You cannot replace a RESOURCE with a technology that’s dependent upon that resource & “renewables” do not address our most pressing problem – OVERPOPULATION that’s led to excessive demand upon limited resources & no amount of conservation & switching to resource dependent technology, “renewables”, will solve that dilemma.
    All this noise about “renewables” is just a distraction that continues to ignore & cover up our real & most pressing problems, there are too many of US!
    Since we refuse to address human overpopulation because of religion & business interests, we are now doomed to a collapse of the economy & our excessive population.

    When the dust settles from our collapse, there will be only about 500 million to 1 billion humans left in a ravaged planet, we in the rich world will never live the high tech, high energy lifestyle we have become dependent upon.

    • ubrew12 Says:

      “You cannot replace a RESOURCE with a technology that’s dependent upon that resource” 1)The energy resource for all renewable power is a nuclear fusion reactor 9 light minutes sun-ward of your current position. 2) Biofuels may still be expensive, but they are not technologically impossible, and that’s a good thing because, 3) Fossil fuels are nonrenewable. They will run out, leaving you having to take the same choices the rest of us are willing to take today to save the planet from fossil fuel pollution.

      4) Overpopulation is a problem. It’s just not this problem.

      • sheilach2 Says:

        We are producing biofuels but they use land that could be growing food & it still takes more energy inputs than what the energy output is, it’s a energy sink.
        If we have no FF inputs, then our output from agriculture will be much less than today & it will take years to restore soils damaged by industrial agriculture & some areas now fertile won’t be without pumped water.
        Population is related to this subject in that we wouldn’t be having this discussion if our population hadn’t exceeded 1 billion.
        We will of course not have fossil resources for much longer, most oil fields around the planet are in decline, we will not be able to feed 7.5 billion humans without oil, we have become too dependent upon it.
        I see many problems with “renewables”, their high tech & also are tied to oil, they cannot replace oil & they have none of the essential raw materials that oil does.
        We will be using much less energy than now & there will be far fewer of us.
        Growth is not sustainable, there is still such a thing as “LIMITS”.

  7. redskylite Says:

    Sure it can be done sooner than you think, new research, lead by the University of Oxford, just released suggests the window of opportunity is wider than previously understood. The latest generation realize this, only the bigoted older lot, with fossil fuels ingrained into their psych deny the need – so start voting for the latest generation who appreciate the need to put the carbon balance back, and stop fueling the corrupt and bigoted old farts. (Please)

    Quiet energy revolution underway in Japan as dozens of towns go off the grid. Towns in Japan have got the message – say no to fossils.

    • redskylite Says:

      In a collaboration involving the University of Exeter, University College London and several other national and international partners, researchers from the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute (ECI) and Oxford Martin School have investigated the geophysical likelihood of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.”

      Published today in the journal Nature Geoscience, the paper concludes that limiting the increase in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C, the goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is not yet geophysically impossible, but likely requires more ambitious emission reductions than those pledged so far.

  8. Personally I think the change comes sooner than we think and its basically going to be because its economically wise for anyone to choose solar, battery storage and EVs. Basically what Tony Seba talks about in his presentation:

  9. toddinnorway Says:

    Ice storage in summer for space cooling and hot water storage in winter for space heating will always be more cost-effective than batteries for most areas. Big batteries in vehicles will likely pick up a large part of the rest of the need for energy storage that needs to produce electric power.

  10. J4Zonian Says:

    The study mentioned by redskylite that suggests we have more leeway than supposed, is delusional. I list some of the reasons here:
    sheilach, though probably not delusional, is also not completely in touch with reality. S/he’s spreading the anti-renewable lies created by the right wing and fossil fuel corporations. Most renewables are built with fossil fuels now because everything we do is done mostly with fossil fuels. Solar and wind power pay off the energy and carbon costs of building them, generally within months, at the most a year or 2, then go on to produce clean safe resilient energy for decades. That can be used to build more panels and turbines that will then be virtually 100% fossil free, as will all subsequent generations of panels and turbines. Tesla and others are now building gigafactories powered by renewables to start that process.

    The richest 7-10% of people emit half the greenhouse gases and cause equal proportions of other ecological problems; the poorest 6 billion cause only about 20% of the GHGs. If you have 4 things—a roof, a bed, clothes in a closet and food in a refrigerator—you have more than about 85% of people in the world have. Most people are either so poor they have essentially no effect on any global ecological problems, or are farmers who put as much back into the soil as they take out. Many are people who have been forced off the land by the rich and their system of industrial agriculture and development. They live how and where the rich decide they will; many poor people make things for rich people, so the rich have responsibility for the emissions of the poor, too. (The emissions caused should be attributed at least half to the country the stuff is sent to.) Population growth rates have been dropping since the 1960s and population itself will almost certainly peak and start to decline by 2050. We can and should do the things proven to reduce it more (equality, education and empowerment for all especially women; security in sickness, old age and hard times; free access to contraception) because they’re good things for other reasons, but it won’t help with the current crisis.

    Our problems are caused almost entirely by a small percent of rich people (including most posting here.) And it won’t be solved by any population policy. We need to reduce emissions by at least 90% in the next 5-8 years or face exponentially rising risk of utter calamity. That’s the problem we have to solve, and efficiency, wiser lives, renewables, reforestation, and small-scale, low-meat, permaculture are the main solutions.

    • sheilach2 Says:

      I don’t think we have 50 years to get our act together & TPTB will fight us every millimeter of the way especially any attempt to stop population growth & economic growth.
      I don’t read right wing crap & neither do I frequent oil company propaganda unless you think Gail Tverberg is a oil company shill.

      I don’t see how you can expect to use a technology that is tied to temporary resources to replace those resources.
      Everything is now done with the energy of FF because it’s the most energy dense source of energy & raw materials there is, “renewables” are a low density technology that produces only electricity & no raw materials.
      I see that as a problem, don’t you?

      Do you have any idea of the amount of energy & resources it takes to build solar panels?
      How are you going to transport the mega tons of raw materials we will need to build those panels when the raw materials are scattered all over the world & are dependent upon OIL to mine & transport?

      I know fossil fuels are TEMPORARY, I’m also sure you cannot replace a resource with technology & “renewables” are a technology that’s tied to limited resources, we won’t have enough resources or energy to produce all the “renewables” we would need just to generate the electricity we use now & what about all those electric cars some expect to replace ICE?
      They also don’t last for “decades” & they don’t replace the energy used to produce them within “months” except in a LAB.
      If you disguard the energy it took to mine, process, fabricate, manufacture their components & the energy used to transport the raw materials & the manufactured parts, perhaps then they might replace the energy used to manufacture them in a LAB but not in the real world where the sun doesn’t shine all the time except in SPACE.

      Then there is the “small” problem of feeding 7.5 billion humans, you cannot produce fertilizer with solar cells, currently we synthesize nitrogen fertilizer from natural gas.

      You cannot power farm machinery with batteries, long haul trucks cannot be powered by batteries either & physics limits the amount of charge a battery can store & how many times it can cycle.
      Batteries are a low density heavy, bulky storage units, oil is a high density, compact & a portable liquid, storage unit, can’t you see the problem?

      We will “get off” fossil fuels but there will be far fewer of us & we won’t have much in the way of electricity & only the rich will have it.

      How much stock do you have in “renewables” & do you sell solar panels? Do you drive a Tesla? Nice if you have the mega bucks it takes to own one.
      Replacing those batteries will be a very expensive proposition though.

      If we won’t/can’t stop population growth & reduce our numbers down to what is sustainable without FF, anything else we do will be MOOT!
      Population growth will cause our collapse well before you can even begin to replace ICE with electric cars, power the grid & keep the lights on, people will be dying of starvation, diseases & in resource wars.
      Is that how your plan will “work”, kill off all the poor so the rich can live without oil on organic food & driving electric cars with a small solar panel powered grid?
      That might work.

      • wpNSAlito Says:

        My favorite thing about wind and solar plants is that they–unlike steam turbine power plants–can be sited independent of a reliable water supply and scaled at variable rates.

        A traditional steam turbine power plant requires
        (1) siting by a water supply that may be vulnerable to SLR, river flooding or rising water temperatures
        (2) massive planning and capital-intensive construction
        (3) infrastructure for the fuel to go in (pipeline, coal train, or coal convoys)

        In addition, coal and fission plants need expensive waste management.

        Overpopulation is an orthogonal problem aggravated by impediments from religious cultures.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Speaking of dense…

        Population nonsense (including the bizarre conspiracy theory about ”TPTB”) asked and answered.

        EROEI of oil in the 1930s was about 100:1. Then we used all the easy-access oil up. Now it’s about 15:1 and still falling, roughly comparable to solar and wind EROEI which is rising. Geothermal is much higher and hydro is very much higher. But we waste outright about 70% of the energy we burn, and if you consider the end result, we probably waste 70% of what’s left—through military adventurism and its main purpose, corporate profit protection services, through other trivial, distractive and destructive actions. People in Europe and Japan use half the energy and have better lives, but still see huge potential for energy reduction.

        Rail, including high speed rail, is much more efficient than trucking, can be powered by renewable electricity at least partly on the rights of way, and should be the main transport form within a decade or so, built as part of the necessary climate mobilization. But EV trucks are certainly within reach and Deere already has an electric tractor. Biofuels and other renewable sources can also be used if needed but probably won’t be.

        “With energy paybacks of 1 to 4 years and assumed life expectancies of 30 years, 87% to 97% of the energy that PV systems generate won’t be plagued by pollution, green- house gases, and depletion of resources.”

        From a 2004 NREL paper; huge improvements in solar have happened since then.

        “So, as you can see, even with the technology of today, the energy payback of solar power is between ½ a year and 1½ years in Southern Europe and under 3 years in the rest of Europe (which has approximately the solar irradiance levels of Alaska). That’s quite a long time before the lifetime of solar panels, which have been shown to work to factory specs for over 30 years… and counting.”

        Payback times in the US (especially the SW) Middle East, N. Africa, and other sunny areas are even better. (About 2% of power is lost in transmission over 1000 miles) And most of the figures here are for rooftop solar. Utility PV, 24/7 solar thermal and wind are much cheaper and more energy and labor efficient than residential rooftop PV, though democratic, distributed energy with zero transmission costs has advantages.

        2 MW Onshore Wind Turbine

        Annual output est. at 4GWh
        Carbon payback happens within about 3 months
        Energy payback happens within about 5 months

        Payback times in days % of 20 years

        energy 146 2%
        carbon 93.9 1.3

        This is for 2 MW turbines; current 8 MW and future 10-12 MW turbines are exponentially better in output, efficiency, constancy, etc. Transport is reduced to a tiny fraction when fuel is unnecessary, so that’s another efficiency to chalk up for clean safe renewable energies. Studies by Jacobsen and others show we have the materials we need to build all the renewable infrastructure we need. EVs are cheaper to run, will be cheaper to buy within a year or so, and are likely to last 500k to 1 million miles so drastically less material is needed than would have been w ICEVs. Other trends are converging to reinforce the good things about renewables, as shown here recently.

        Clothesline paradox energies like passive solar heating and cooling, Annual Cycle Energy Systems, etc. are even better, reduce the grid load and are fully dispatchable-equivalent.

        Organic permaculture has been shown to yield as much as 20% more Calories per acre than chemical methods with no fossil fertilizers. (Jane Mt. Pleasant, Cornell, using 3 sisters agriculture). Organic also more resilient in the face of the kinds of extreme weather we’re facing more and more of, and sequesters carbon faster than any chemical method (because that destroys soil).

        Your ”temporary” and ” replacing resource with technology” thing is meaningless.

        To answer your questions: No. Yes. Asked and answered.

        So pretty much every single thing you said turned out to be false. I’m so, so tired of anti-renewable nay-saying fossil fuel funded JAQing off whataboutery like yours. Soooooo tired. I’m not sure exactly what’s getting in the way of your absorption of facts— bigmanlymachine bias? personal despair? (call it the McPherson Phactor) or other, but you might want to see someone about it.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        ” “renewables” are a low density technology that produces only electricity & no raw materials.
        I see that as a problem, don’t you?”

        No, I don’t.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        ““renewables” are a technology that’s tied to limited resources, we won’t have enough resources or energy to produce all the “renewables” we would need just to generate the electricity we use now & what about all those electric cars some expect to replace ICE?”

        You are delusional.

        The sun, wind, and tide are capable of producing a billion times more energy that our civilization could possibly use from now until the day the sun consumes the Earth. So could geothermal.

        There is no component of solar tech or wind tech or tidal tech that we will run out of, and these techs are becoming way more efficient and cost-effective all the time. We could easily build all the RE we need to completely replace fossil fuels in a matter of years if we had the will to do so – there is absolutely ZERO technical problem with any aspect of this.

        I have no idea whatsoever what you are talking about.

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