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:

Despite the obvious need for a balanced portfolio of large-scale, long-duration storage projects to help California balance its grid, there continue to be significant barriers and resistance to the procurement of such projects. Weaknesses and faulty assumptions in the CPUC’s Integrated Resource Planning modeling have resulted in the deferral of new storage facilities, and mixed signals from CAISO and parts of the renewable industry have undermined the clarity of the message on the need to advance multiple large-scale storage technologies, rather than simply rely on batteries.

Discussions have continued among key stakeholders, including pumped-storage project proponents, California labor organizations, CAISO, environmental NGOs, renewable and gas generators, and customer groups about possible measures to further planning and procurement for large-scale storage projects to serve the California market. But so far there is no consensus, with some stakeholders arguing that increasing large-scale storage will impede efforts to expand CAISO and build a regional grid. Others argue against limiting projects to in-state, when cost-effective, interconnected projects in neighboring states are available. Gas plant operators also have opposed expediting procurement of new pumped-hydro projects.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is exploring new pumped-hydro storage at Hoover Dam, and has been working with compressed-air storage developers on an integrated storage/renewables/hybrid gas plant project adjacent to the retiring coal plant site in Delta, Utah, with the goal of utilizing the existing DC transmission line from Utah to LA. LADWP has selected technology partners for this effort and is expected to announce a 150 MW pilot program early next year.