U.S. energy storage MWhs double in 2016
A rush of projects to make up for grid resources lost with the Aliso Canyon gas leak boosted energy storage deployments to a record level in Q4.
In coming years and decades, as renewable energy replaces conventional generation, large amounts of energy storage are expected to replace gas generation to meet power demand on a flexible basis during times of low wind and solar output.
In 2016 California got a taste of what that future will look like, when the massive Aliso Canyon gas leak drove utilities to procure large amounts of energy storage, to make up for the lost gas. And those installations, in turn, drove the largest quarter to date for U.S. battery storage deployments, according to the latest edition GTM Research and Energy Storage Association’s (ESA) U.S. Energy Storage Monitor.
And while the 141 MW of battery storage deployed during Q4 2016 represented a 25% increase over the fourth quarter of 2015, the difference in duration of batteries deployed – megawatt-hours (MWh) instead of MW – was more stark. The 230 MWh of storage deployments was more than 3x a year ago, and more in three months than the past three years combined.
This meant as measured by duration, energy storage installations doubled in 2016 to 336 MWh.
Most of the 141 MW/230 MWh installed during Q4 was in California, which made up 88% of capacity and led for the first time in utility-scale installations as well as in the residential and commercial and industrial segments. Prior to this the PJM Interconnection grid was the largest market, and the two trends are related.
The huge capacity of four-hour batteries which California put online in the last quarter of 2016 – including the world’s largest battery storage installation – was to replace capacity normally supplied by gas plants, not the shorter-term ancillary services which have driven the PJM market.
“While California took over the pole position in 2016 from PJM, the market shift was also transformational in terms of applications – from short duration ancillary services to longer duration capacity needs,” notes GTM Research Director of Energy Storage Ravi Manghani.