While natural gas provided the largest share of electricity supply during this summer's heatwaves, growing battery storage capacity dispatched power during evening peak hours, helping the grids—including ERCOT in Texas—avoid outages during periods of record demand.
Battery storage deployment has grown over the past decade alongside the solar and wind power installation boom.
Last year, the Inflation Reduction Act gave new impetus to the U.S. battery storage market by introducing investment tax credits for standalone energy storage projects not connected with a solar or wind generation facility.
With the IRA, standalone battery storage projects now qualify for tax credits, which has incentivized developers to announce and build more projects.
The booming battery storage additions have contributed to keeping power on in states such as Texas, where record electricity demand during heatwaves or freezing winters often strains the grid.
"Batteries weren't the only reason why there haven't been blackouts this year, but it was a critical piece of keeping the lights on," Jeff Bishop, CEO of battery developer Key Capture Energy, told The Wall Street Journal.
Key Capture Energy operates around 380 megawatts (MW) of battery storage in Texas.
In early August, the company launched two 50 MW battery storage projects in Williamson County in central Texas. The storage project came online right before the August heat wave, "providing additional, critically needed capacity into the ERCOT system," Bishop said at the time.
This summer, all major U.S. power markets relied more on natural gas to keep a balanced grid system. Increased gas-powered generation highlights the fact that the fossil fuel—the single-biggest power generation source in the United States—continues to play a critical role in balancing the power systems amid high air conditioning demand in heatwaves, lower-than-usual wind speeds, and reduced hydropower generation due to drought.
But booming battery storage rollout has also played a role in avoiding power outages and grid failures. Executives and analysts say that battery storage will play an even larger role in keeping the lights on in the coming years as installations are surging.
Enel Green Power North America, for example, said this month that it added 369 MW / 555 MWh of utility-scale energy storage capacity to the Texas energy grid this summer, more than tripling its operational utility-scale storage capacity by bringing five new battery energy storage systems (BESS) online.
"With extreme heat propelling Texas' energy demand to record-breaking levels, the addition of these five new battery storage systems couldn't have come at a better time," said Paolo Romanacci, head Enel Green Power North America.
Andy Bowman, CEO at another battery storage company, Jupiter Power, told The Texas Tribune earlier this month,
"Energy storage is increasingly a part of making ends meet from a supply point of view."
U.S. battery storage jumped from just 47 MW in 2010 to 11,071 MW in 2023, according to data from the American Clean Power Association (ACP). Large-scale battery storage capacity is expected to grow from 1 GW in 2019 to 80 GW in 2030, according to the average forecast, ACP says.
The association's latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, produced with Wood Mackenzie, showed earlier this week that U.S. developers added 5,597 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy storage installations in the second quarter of 2023, setting a new quarterly record and putting the American energy storage market on track for a record year in 2023.
"The market is on pace to nearly double annual installations despite supply chain challenges and interconnection delays and will continue to grow quickly in coming years," ACP VP of Research and Analytics, John Hensley, said.
In the second quarter of 2023, battery storage installations jumped by 32% year-over-year as storage accounted for nearly 30% of clean power projects commissioned in the United States, second only to solar installations, ACP's latest Clean Power Quarterly Market Report showed in August.
Compared to the same time last year, the battery storage project pipeline surged by 45%, now composing 15% of all clean power projects currently under development, according to the report.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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