California is adding batteries to its electrical grid at a frantic pace: the state is said to be adding 1,700 megawatts of new battery capacity to the grid this year, in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of last summer’s rolling blackouts, BloombergNEF reports. To put it in perspective: that’s more battery capacity than all of China.
Bloomberg says the state’s massive battery movement will be the “biggest test yet of whether batteries are reliable enough to sustain a grid largely powered by renewables.” California has a goal of reaching 100% renewable power by 2045.
Battery storage will be a big part of achieving the outcomes the Biden Administration is reaching for in terms of decarbonizing the grid, said White House adviser Phil Giudice, the president’s special assistant for climate policy, during a webinar by the US Energy Storage Association (via S&P Global Market Intelligence).
California, the US’s fourth-largest electricity producer, is being widely watched as it transitions its grid to renewables. As of last month, renewable sources supplied more than half of California’s in-state electricity generation, according to the US Energy Information Administration. But solar-powered electricity may be hampered by the limits of battery storage. Lithium-ion battery systems are generally designed for only a few hours of storage. This is enough to handle the daily swings in solar generation, but not enough to handle surges in demand that California faced last summer, according to an article in Slate.