Utility Dive outlines a new plan by the Biden administration’s Department of Energy to encourage the deployment of massive energy storage assets in the United States. Jason Plautz writes:
The Biden administration has set a goal of powering the country with 100% clean electricity by 2035, which experts say will require vast deployment of energy storage to collect renewable energy when it is generated and distribute it to the grid when it’s needed.
Storage installations have boomed recently; a Wood Mackenzie analysis with the Energy Storage Association found that 1,464 MW of new storage came online in the U.S. in 2020, 179% more than in 2019. However, most of that has been in the form of short-duration storage (largely lithium ion batteries) that provides up to 10 hours of discharge. According to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analysis of DOE data, some 93% of the storage installed worldwide is short-duration.
Experts agree that long-duration storage is necessary to shore up the grid and ensure a reliable power supply during periods of decreased renewable production. There are a range of technologies available for long-duration storage, from hydropower to pumped thermal, but there have been few breakthroughs in the market. NREL’s analysis concluded more work is needed to boost the discharge efficiency and lower the cost for long-duration storage to displace fossil fuel or nuclear power, with the capacity cost needing to drop from $200 per kWh to $1 per kWh.
The earthshot initiative is designed to improve both of those metrics. According to the Energy Department, the initiative will involve funding opportunities to incentivize deployment and research, with an amount dependent on the budget that Congress passes this year.
A DOE official described the goal as “aggressive but achievable.” The 90% reduction will be based on the baseline of the $162/KWh cost for a 100MW lithium-ion battery in 2020. The reduction is slightly ahead of the cost reduction for lithium-ion batteries over the past decade, the administration official said, but is in line with DOE modeling.
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