America’s grid-scale battery storage facilities experience 240% growth

Wood Mackenzie and the US Energy Storage Association reported that battery storage facilities in America grew by 240% in the third quarter of 2020

A recent report by Wood MacKenzie, a research firm for natural resources found that energy storage in America has crossed the 1.2GW mark. By 2025, the firm projects a growth of up to 7.5GW. Several states including New York, Florida and California have approved grid-scale battery storage facilities of up to 1.5GW.

The surge in growth can be partly credited to increasing sophistication in lithium-ion battery technology. An increasing number of consumer electronics and electric vehicles have pushed scientists to optimise lithium-ion batteries to ever-increasing limits. Today, batteries can store more power for longer periods of time. Buoyed by the rapid development of battery technology, costs of utility-scale battery storage have plummeted. Since 2015, costs of building and maintaining battery storage facilities have decreased by nearly 70%, and America’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory foresees an additional drop of 45% by 2030. The Californian government has been pushing to decarbonise their electrical grid by 2045, encouraging industry leaders to propose an array of battery storage projects. Currently, California leads the pack with two of the world’s largest battery storage facilities being operated by Vistra Energy (400MW) and LS Power (230MW).

In Europe, storage technology has been underestimated by government entities which typically hold sway over auctions in the electricity market. There have been a few initiatives to explore battery storage technology. Last year, TransnetBW, a renewable energy transmission operator from Germany announced a grid booster pilot at the Kupferzell substation in Baden-Württemberg. Envisaged in the form of a 250MW battery, it is expected to absorb excess energy during high-load periods and discharge it during system disturbances. Lithuania plans to build a 200MW battery storage facility by the end of 2021, freeing it from the Russian-controlled electrical grid it currently draws from. Last month, the British government approved a £200m battery storage facility with a capacity of 320MW, being developed by Fluence and InterGen.