The Energy Storage Path to a Clean California

on December 4, 2019

Over the last two decades, the energy industry has been in a constant state of transformation, catalyzed by dramatic increases in clean energy and a multitude of technology innovations. In California, the spotlight has been on maximizing the use and storage of renewable energy to meet climate goals. As an early adopter of clean energy innovations, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has been a key partner in California’s efforts to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Today, SDG&E supplies around 45% renewable energy to every family and business in the San Diego-Southern Orange County, California, U.S. region, up 1% from nearly two decades ago. The national average is about 10%. SDG&E’s mission to become America’s cleanest energy infrastructure utility is complemented by its relentless efforts to enhance the safety and reliability of energy delivery.

California has been racing against the climate change clock, creating policies, incentives and programs to achieve higher levels of clean energy for powering homes, businesses, goods movement and transportation. As more solar and wind energy come on-line and plug into the power grid, investments are needed to maintain reliability, harness the value of excess electrons and keep costs low for customers. With an abundance of solar and wind energy now flooding the grid, curtailment is an unfortunate, harsh reality. This challenge has led to an emerging market and increasingly important energy resource in California: the rise of energy storage. Excited about the many potential uses for energy storage, SDG&E currently is pursuing multiple projects on this front.

The Emerging Market

In the last decade, interest in energy storage—both utility scale as well as residential and commercial—has increased dramatically as a result of climate policy goals, such as California’s Senate Bill (SB) 100, which mandates the state’s grid be 100% carbon free by 2045, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 841, which directs system operators to enable utility-scale batteries so they can engage in the wholesale energy, capacity and ancillary services markets.

As demand increases, the market has responded with a variety of energy storage technologies and applications. Whether a large-scale Lithium-ion battery for grid use or a behind-the-meter (BTM) battery for a photovoltaic (PV) system, batteries are becoming commonplace for energy consumers. Electric vehicles with longer-duration batteries are coming down in price, creating more choices for consumers. New technology also is emerging to enable bidirectional flow of electricity between the grid and vehicles. In the future, imagine consumers plugging electric vehicles into their houses to help power some of their electricity needs during peak hours.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsThe Energy Storage Path to a Clean California