In the midst of the blackouts endured by millions of Californians as a precaution against wildfires, batteries were lauded as sources of backup power for individual homes and communities. Not only are batteries being increasingly sought out as a tool to increase the resilience of our energy supply systems in the face of extreme weather such as wildfires, but they are also seen as a key to significantly reducing the emissions that drive climate change.
When connected to a renewable energy source, such as solar panels or wind turbines, batteries can store any excess clean energy generated to be used as needed—for instance, when demand peaks in the evening, or when solar and wind energy potential dips. This extra energy can also reduce electricity bills for customers who choose to sell their power back to the grid when energy prices are highest.
Just as the cost of solar and wind energy has dropped in recent years, the price of battery energy storage is also declining—with a 76% drop in U.S. prices since 2012. While prices of battery-plus-solar technologies are not yet cheaper than other generation technologies, it is worth considering the present value they may add in mitigating financial losses from grid outages.
It’s not just homes and businesses that batteries can power, but electric vehicles, too. Batteries supplied by low-carbon electricity sources have the potential to significantly decrease the 29% of US carbon dioxide emissions produced by the transportation sector. Work is ongoing to make battery technology safer, more powerful and more accessible, bringing a carbon-free energy system ever closer to reality.
WeatherPower Tool: Are you curious about the current wind and solar electricity generation in your area? Check out our updated WeatherPower tool, which you can use to explore metrics (such as megawatts of electricity generated, the amount of CO2 avoided, and number of cell phones powered) and download graphics customized to your county, state, media market or congressional district.
METHODOLOGY: Large-scale battery storage, solar, and wind data as of August 2019 (release date October 23) is from U.S. Energy Information Administration’s monthly survey Form EIA-860M, that monitors the current status of existing and proposed generating units at electric power plants with 1 megawatt or greater of combined nameplate capacity. BloombergNEF levelized cost of energy (LCOE) data is a country weighted-average using the latest annual capacity additions. The storage LCOE is reflective of a utility-scale lithium-ion battery storage system with four-hour duration running at a daily cycle, and includes charging costs assumed to be 60% of wholesale average power price.