Seven states in the US have now put some kind of public policy in place that recognises the role that energy storage will play in their future, lower carbon energy system.
On the one hand, it is to be applauded that this is clearly a mark of an ambition that New York, New Jersey, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Oregon and Virginia share, that the importance of the energy transition and a green economy has not been lost on state leadership. On the other hand, why is it that some of these states have set mandated energy storage procurement plans for their utilities and others see their targets as more ‘aspirational’, vague goals?
The US national Energy Storage Association’s policy director, Jason Burwen, spoke with Andy Colthorpe about the seven early adopter states and whether this is likely to be a spreading pattern across the country.
Why should it really matter whether these goals are met, or not? In a state like California, for example, as the renewables penetration on the grid rapidly grows, is it just perhaps more obvious that energy storage would be desirable or needed there than in other states?
Let me also add a second rephrasing of this question – which we’ve heard a little bit recently: “If we’re going to 100% renewable or clean energy, why do we need storage targets? Storage will just happen, right?”
That’s not how these things work. A really key thing to bear in mind here is that, when you’re procuring resources for resource adequacy, or for system capacity, we’re talking about multi-decadal investment decisions.
Just because you see a future where we’re going to have a tonne of renewables, and the business case for storage will be self-evident in the future, well, the investment decisions that are largely going to determine supply mixes in the future are being made today.
Every year you wait, there’s a certain degree to which there’s a path dependency that you’re putting a lot of jurisdictions on and maybe there’s a plan at the end of the day, to retire assets early – but I don’t know that that’s necessarily going to be a politically savvy strategy. And frankly, it’s not in the interest of ratepayers either.
So energy storage targets are really important because they are in some respects saying, “listen, you know you’re going to need this, so instead of sitting on your hands and kind of doing nothing about it right now because it’s a new resource, it looks different and you might not have experience with it, you have to go figure it out”.