US battery installations soared in 2022, reshaping power grids
PA Consulting energy storage expert Dan Finn-Foley discusses the US battery storage boom with Benjamin Storrow from E&E News.
The article notes that the United States is in a battery boom, adding nearly as much capacity on the power grid in 2022 as it did in all previous years combined.
The surge is reshaping America’s regional electric grids. In California, for example, analysts credit a wave of new battery installations with sparing the state from electric blackouts late last summer, when a searing heat wave sent power demand soaring.
The United States installed 4 gigawatts of battery capacity in 2022, nearly matching the 4.7 GW installed in all previous years combined, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration figures. California and Texas accounted for 90 percent of U.S. battery installations, bringing online 2.4 GW and 1.3 GW, respectively, in 2022.
The battery explosion in America’s two most populous states is largely due to the growing strength of solar. California and Texas are the first- and second-largest solar markets in the United States, respectively, by some distance.
The high penetration of solar in each state contributes to large swings in electricity prices, which fall during the day when solar is producing and surge in the evening when demand rises and solar production falls off.
Batteries are well-placed to profit from the price surge during the evening hours. Lithium-ion batteries, which account for the vast majority of utility-scale energy storage installations, can charge quickly using surplus solar generation during the daytime hours and dispatch power over a four-hour interval in the evening.
Dan said: “You’re really chasing arbitrage. Storage can capture a lot of value there.”
The sheer scope of America’s energy storage boom is stunning, he said. In 2018, the United States installed a total of 189 megawatts of storage capacity. Last year, the largest single installed project was 350 MW, according to the American Clean Power Association, a trade group.
The growth is not surprising, Dan said. The lithium-ion batteries used for grid purposes are the same batteries used in electric vehicles. As the EV market has grown, it has scaled up supply chains and driven down battery costs for grid-scale storage. Batteries used in the power sector make up a small part of the overall lithium-ion battery market.
He adds: “It is safe to say that the stationary grid storage industry would not exist today without the EV industry.”
The flood of battery installations in the power sector in 2022 is especially notable given the supply chain constraints the industry faced in the first part of the year. Developers were largely able to work through those issues after experiencing similar supply chain crunches in 2018 and 2020, Dan said.
Analysts said the battery boom is likely to continue.
The Inflation Reduction Act, the sweeping climate law enacted last year, makes it easier for battery developers to claim an investment tax credit. Previously, a battery installer needed to be connected to a solar project to qualify. The Inflation Reduction Act removed that requirement, paving the way for any battery connected to the grid to qualify.
Between now and 2026, developers plan to install 22 GW of battery capacity, according to EIA figures. Of that, 16 GW is slated for Texas and California.