Large-Scale Energy Storage

Large-scale energy storage projects are fast-starting, quick-ramping, high-capacity resources that can help balance peak loads and enhance clean-energy resources’ ability to meet the needs of the electric grid. Strategic bulk-storage investments will allow us to park surplus renewable energy for times of low supply, and provide flexibility to the grid without burning fossil fuels. CEERT vigorously advocates for large-scale storage at the CAISO and in CPUC procurement rulemakings.

Recent Developments:

CEERT has continued to explore pathways for planning and procurement of new bulk storage projects, including pumped hydro, compressed air, and concentrating solar power with thermal storage, but the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) remains focused primarily on more expensive distributed battery storage. The California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO’s) modeling and other low-carbon grid planning exercises continue to support procuring significant quantities of large-scale storage as a means of reducing reliance on natural gas for ancillary services and flexibility. CEERT believes that joint utility procurement of bulk storage facilities, either through joint ownership or through CAISO-tariff financing of these facilities as alternatives to more expensive transmission upgrades, may be the best way to get some projects moving forward.

CEERT has advocated with the Governor’s office and the Joint Energy Agencies for better use of existing large-scale storage infrastructure, including the Department of Water Resources system of dams and pumping loads. We have also had discussions with various parties about the potential to make use of PG&E’s Helms pumped-hydro facility near Fresno in the event the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant shuts down in 2024 (or earlier), and to explore the potential for building new pumped-hydro to support expanded solar development in the Central Valley in the PG&E and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) / Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) balancing areas.