Battery storage boxes stand adjacent to the AES Alamitos Battery Energy Storage System in Long Beach, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2022. (Patrick T Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
With California seeking to achieve a “clean electric grid” by 2045, statistics released Oct. 24 revealed significant progress since 2019, with battery storage capacity now at 13 percent of desired levels, according to the state’s energy commission.
Officials say such is necessary to develop a more reliable grid—with less dependence on traditional power generation methods at night—and to protect public health.
“The more homes and businesses we can power with clean energy, the more we can clean our air and cut pollution,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Oct. 24 in a press release announcing the increases. “California—40 million people strong and the fifth biggest economy in the world—is showing the rest of the globe how to fight climate change while making the grid more reliable and creating new jobs.”
Having doubled in the last two years and spiked by more than 750 percent in four—increasing from 770 megawatts to 6,600—the state now has enough capacity spread across more than 122,000 installation sites to power approximately 6.6 million homes for up to four hours.
The majority of installations include the use of lithium-ion batteries with four-hour storage capacities.
Battery storage is designed to expand the amount of time that renewable power sources—including solar—can provide energy to the grid by saving some resources to deliver when the sun has set, and panels are no longer producing energy.
Solar panels are set up in the solar farm at the University of California, Merced, in Merced, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2022. (Nathan Frandino/Reuters)
More projects are under development, with another 1,900 megawatts scheduled for completion by the end of the year, thus giving the state a total of 8,500 megawatts of the 52,000 such needed to achieve its “clean energy” goals set for 2045, according to the press release.
Efforts are through a collaboration between the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, and the California ISO—a nonprofit independent service operator responsible for overseeing the state’s energy market.
“Energy storage systems are a great example of how we can harness emerging technology to help create the equitable, reliable and affordable energy grid of the future,” Siva Gunda, energy commission vice chair, told The Epoch Times by email Oct. 25. “California is a global leader in establishing climate policy, but more importantly, it is leading the pack when it comes to putting policy into action and rapidly building projects that add clean, zero-carbon capacity to the grid.”
Recently enacted utility commission mandates that energy providers develop storage facilities onsite at sources of power generation have spurred the rapid expansion, according to Gabe Murtaugh, former California ISO storage sector manager.
“This pace of adoption enhances reliability during the most challenging times of the day and helps ensure that new and existing solar resources are more effective on the grid,” Mr. Murtaugh stated in a July press release.
Financial incentives also help increase expansion, he said, as costs to install battery storage are recouped by charging higher rates at night when wholesale prices increase.
While costs were not defined, batteries are initially funded by energy providers and utility companies, with costs subsequently borne by ratepayers.
An aircraft takes off from Los Angeles International Airport behind electric power lines in El Segundo, Calif., on Aug. 31, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
Expanding battery storage capacity is designed to reduce the use of natural gas to produce electricity—currently responsible for delivering the majority of power to California’s grid.
The Golden State leads the world in battery storage capacity, with the governor repeatedly sharing his vision in statements this year of such energy policies serving as models for national and international adoption.
Currently on a weeklong trip to China, Mr. Newsom will be discussing climate policies and signing a number of agreements with local officials there.
While not on the initial itinerary, Mr. Newsom had a surprise visit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Oct. 25, where topics included climate and energy policies, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“The only way we can solve the climate crisis is to continue our long-standing cooperation with China,” Mr. Newsom claimed in the press release. “I made it clear to Chinese leaders that California will remain a stable, strong, and reliable partner, particularly on low-carbon, green growth.”