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US utility-scale battery storage capacity to nearly triple by 2023

Times of Swaziland

The US is expected to see utility-scale battery storage capacity nearly triple by the end of 2023.

Thats according to latest figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which suggests the use of the technology has been growing in recent years.

It states the operating capacity of battery storage units has more than quadrupled from the end of 2014, when it stood at 214MW, to March this year at 899MW.

As of March 2019, the total capacity planned to come online over the next four years is 1,623MW.

If currently planned additions are completed and no operating capacity is retired, utility-scale battery storage capacity could exceed 2,500MW by 2023, the EIA adds.

Out of all the planned projects, the largest two sites account for 725MW of capacity and are planned to start commercial operation in 2021.

With a capacity of 409MW, the Manatee Solar Energy Centre in Florida is expected to be the largest solar-powered battery system in the world. The second largest planned project is the Helix Ravenswood facility in New York.

The report states: Growth in utility-scale battery installations is the result of supportive state-level energy storage policies and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions Order 841 that directs power system operators to allow utility-scale battery systems to engage in their wholesale energy, capacity and ancillary services markets.

In addition, pairing utility-scale battery storage with intermittent renewable resources, such as wind and solar, has become increasingly competitive compared with traditional generation options.


Marcus Pun's picture
Marcus Pun on Jul 19, 2019 5:45 pm GMT

This may be a rather large underestimate. Battery projects are relatively quick to design, get government approval for, and construct. PG&E just got approval for a few large projects for 567.5 MW / 2,270 MWh, where 2 or three of them are expected to be completed by the end of next year.  In Australia Tesla demonstrated that 100 MW / 127 MWh could be installed and operational in under 100 days.  Part of the impetus and why we will see approval for more storage is the Australia experience and the cost savings derived from the battery storage unit. Storage has now become a bottom line must have for system operators. I would expect PG&E and other utilities to start getting approval for more projects in the next couple of years, if anything to get in line for the batteries themselves as the production pipeline is still growing.  With the Gigafactory already pushing out 20GWh of batteries plus plans for adding more production lines, Tesla may end up selling more utility scale units, especially if automobile demand fades.  Panasonic is set to produce Tesla batteries in Japan, and the Gigafactory in China is almost done. Additional utility scale battery purchases will be for behind the meter storage. Silicon Valley was a test bed for some of Tesla's 210 KWh battery systems and some companies now have over a MWh installed for load balancing, emergency power and off peak storage. So I would not be surprised if by 2023 market drivers have doubled the EIA estimate.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 19, 2019 8:19 pm GMT

Marcus, 2,270 MWh of batteries would be capable of powering the U.S. for a total of 19 seconds before they went dead, before all electric trains and subways stopped, before all the lights went out. Doubled? 38 seconds.

There's a disconnect here, a lack of perspective about how much energy it requires to power a modern grid. It's not a cellphone you can plug into the wall. The Tesla PowerWall? A toy for rich people.

There would have to be tens of thousands of times as much storage as you predict for the next four years to be able to guarantee a non-stop supply of electricity, should a prolonged period of cloudy weather cover the most populated areas of the U.S. There would need be at least one hundred times as much solar and wind as are currently installed, to guarantee all areas have extended coverage. The cost of these, together with the land they would occupy, would be astronomical - then, the batteries would need to be replaced every 10-12 years.

The longer we patronize the naïve fantasy batteries might one day overcome the intermittency of solar and wind, the more difficult it will be to come up with real solutions to climate change.

Yes, world peace would be nice, too. Now, let's get real.

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