In the last couple of years, there has been a growing a number of news articles and blog posts published about energy storage, particularly in the form of battery systems. This interest is very reasonable and the news is exciting because these systems can fill in wind power and solar power electricity production gaps. In many places, they could replace gas-powered peaker plants. The costs have gotten that low for renewables + storage. This has actually been the case in some places since 2016, but the story keeps getting better and the solution is competitive in more and more locations practically by the day. (In fact, this was the key topic of the podcast we just published.)
“New research suggests that solar power and battery energy storage are now competitive with natural gas peaker plants due to falling costs. The research focuses on specific markets in the USA but forecasts that 10 GW of natural gas peaker plants could be taken offline by 2027. Other, more aggressive predictions say 2020 could be the year,” one energy storage journalist nicely summarized the latest news.
Tesla’s huge battery system in Australia has also generated some buzz. The system went up considerably quicker than Elon Musk promised, has been working as imagined, and has even been influencing prices in the region. It was the largest lithium-ion battery storage to be implemented anywhere in the world, but it’ll likely be average within a few years.
Energy storage in the form of battery systems can be integrated for greater energy security, for grid support, and to be installed in places where pumped hydro isn’t feasible.
However, it appears as though pumped hydro storage is being overlooked with all the hype about batteries. It still has huge potential to help balance clean, renewable energy. In fact, all the discourse about battery storage seems to be supporting the idea that this form of storage is going to solve clean energy intermittency issues, but there are gaps in what batteries can provide, so let’s take a look at pumped hydro so we can see just how large a factor it could become.read more