California needs up to 55 GW of long term storage

15 December 2020

By 2045, California will require the deployment of up to a 55 GW of long duration energy storage to support its 100% clean electricity goals. This represents more than a 150X increase in the total of energy storage deployed in the state since 2010. Even by 2030, the state will require 2-11 GW of new operational LDES.

These findings are the result of a rigorous new modelling study released today by the California Energy Storage Alliance, demonstrating the urgent need for California to begin developing procurement and compensation models for long duration energy storage now to ensure that these resources can be deployed and online in the next 5-10 years.

The study, ‘Long duration energy storage for California’s clean, reliable grid’  conducted by Strategen, showed that California’s future grid will be heavily reliant on intermittent and variable solar generation. That dependence underscores the need for dependable, abundant, and long duration energy shifting resources that can provide more than four hours of power, currently the market standard in the state.

Alex Morris, executive director of CESA, stated, “Nearly 180 GW of the 240 GW of incremental capacity installed in California by 2045 will be solar. Long duration energy storage of over four hours duration will be critical to support the solar grid at night, during every evening peak, and then of course on those hours, days, and even weeks when there just isn’t enough sun to meet demand.” 

Morris observed that the need for LDES will inevitably extend beyond the state of California. “Applying the methodology used in this study can help other solar-dominated Western states to intelligently plan for their future energy storage needs as well- this need for long duration storage is not limited to our state.”

California has begun to show leadership in recognizing the near-term need for LDES. In Spring 2020, the California Public Utility Commission called for 1 GW of new LDES capacity by 2026. In November 2020, a coalition of eight Community Choice Aggregators in California released the state’s first long duration energy storage request for offers (RFO) to procure up to 500 MW of long duration storage. The RFO seeks to have resources with a minimum discharge period of eight hours come online by 2026. However, the results of this study, along with recent summer blackout events, highlight the real urgency for more near-term long duration energy storage deployment to complement existing variable energy resources (VERs).

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