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Energy Storage's Seasonal Challenge

Energy Storage's Seasonal Challenge

Update: 2020-12-151


Electricity storage technologies have proven their worth in balancing daily fluctuations in wind and solar power output. But can storage address the challenges presented by the decarbonized grid of the future?
President-Elect Joe Biden’s clean energy plan aims to make America’s electricity system carbon neutral by the year 2035. To reach its goal, the plan will seek to develop the nation’s clean energy infrastructure, and expand the role of wind and solar power. Yet renewable energy presents certain challenges, one of which is to ensure that electricity is available even when wind and sunshine are scarce.

In recent years, grid-scale batteries have emerged as an increasingly economic way to address the variability problem, or intermittency, of wind and solar output. In fact, over the last two years demand for grid-scale energy storage has accelerated, particularly in the Southwest, where batteries are increasingly used to balance daily ebbs in solar generation.

Yet as renewables become a larger part of America’s energy mix, the challenge of balancing intermittency will grow exponentially. Eventually, storage could be called upon not only to even out daily fluctuations in energy output, but seasonal variation as well.

Kleinman Center research associate Oscar Serpell explores the potential for grid electricity storage, in its many forms, to meet the seasonal balancing demands of a low-carbon electric grid. He also looks at the limitations of today’s energy storage technologies, and at the advances that may be needed to enable dramatic reductions in carbon emissions from the electricity industry.

Oscar Serpell is research associate with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

Related Content 
The Opportunities and Limitations of Seasonal Energy Storage 

Feasibility of Seasonal Storage for a Fully Electrified Economy 

Balancing Renewable Energy Goals with Community Interests 

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Energy Storage's Seasonal Challenge

Energy Storage's Seasonal Challenge

Kleinman Center for Energy Policy/Oscar Serpell