Batteries can store energy from renewable sources like solar and wind, helping to ensure grid stability on windless or cloudy days, and supporting the wider deployment of renewable energy—essential for reducing carbon emissions.
As more renewable energy has come online in the United States, utility-scale battery storage has also grown, more than quadrupling since 2014.
Batteries’ ability to act as backup generators can increase resilience for homes and businesses, particularly as climate change brings more extreme weather events and the greater potential for loss of power—evident during the precautionary blackouts in California in recent weeks.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
California currently has the most battery storage installed by state, with 262 MW of utility-scale capacity as of August 2019, followed by Illinois (133 MW), Texas (114 MW), Hawaii (63 MW), and West Virginia (50 MW). One megawatt of solar can power 190 homes, on average.
Battery storage prices are declining, similar to falling prices of solar and wind energy, with a 76% drop in costs since 2012. While they are still more expensive than other generation technologies, battery-plus-solar installations may be seen as economically viable when potential financial losses from grid outages are considered.
POTENTIAL LOCAL STORY ANGLES
How much energy does my state produce from battery storage and renewable energy sources like solar or wind?
The U.S. Energy Information Administration produces monthly reports of national and state energy statistics, and also has an interactive state energy portal that provides maps, charts and state dashboards showing how much of your state’s electricity is supplied by renewable, nuclear, or fossil fuel sources. And you can use Climate Central’s WeatherPower tool to find your local wind and solar electricity generation and forecast, as well as download customizable graphics.
What are the incentives or policies for battery storage and renewable energy in my state?
N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University maintains DSIRE, a comprehensive database on state and local incentives and policies for renewable energy and energy efficiency. And the National Conference of State Legislatures describes which states have set renewable portfolio standards.
Are there more electric vehicles on the road near you?
Electric vehicles (EVs) can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, but potentially act as battery storage with vehicle-to-grid systems. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center has statistics on EV registrations, charging locations, incentive programs, and other data by state. And you can check here to compare conventional, hybrid, and electric vehicle emissions by state, based on local sources of electricity.
LOCAL INTERVIEW IDEAS
The SciLine service,500 Women Scientists or the press offices of local universities may be able to connect you with local scientists or policy experts who are knowledgeable about battery storage and renewable energy.
To interview local renewable energy businesses, industry associations can be of help. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has an interactive map that allows you to find local energy companies in your state, and downloadable fact sheets for each state on solar production and state incentives. Windpower Engineering & Development is a quarterly trade publication that has a searchable database of wind energy projects and their manufacturers around the country.
NATIONAL INTERVIEW SUGGESTIONS
Senior Scientist with Climate Central
Senior Research Faculty Member with the Energy Systems Analysis Group at Princeton University's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
Chuck Kutscher, Ph.D., P.E.
Fellow and Senior Research Associate
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, University of Colorado-Boulder
(Former Director, NREL Buildings and Thermal Sciences Center, retired)
Energy Research Analyst
|Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
HOW WE GOT THE DATA
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 at least 1 megawatt of combined nameplate capacity. BloombergNEF levelized cost of energy (LCOE) data is a country weighted-average using the latest annual capacity (or maximum output of electricity) 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.