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Energy storage saves California from unwanted peaker plants

Quick installation is the answer


To fulfil growing energy demand, electric utilities are learning to install energy storage facilities quicker than ever before. In contrast to the conservative planning of the past which could stretch across decades, energy storage installations are now being made within a matter of months. Leading the way are California Utilities, who hope to deploy energy storage systems instead of peaker plants for a range of uses including storing renewables, helping in power outages and in cases of leaky gas facilities and closed nuclear plants.

Government support for energy storage


Shut downs of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant along with the Aliso Canyon natural-gas storage facility have prompted the government to pass progressive policies encouraging use of renewables and energy storage solutions. It has certainly had an effect on the energy storage market, which is currently experiencing phenomenal growth. Mark Irwin, director of technology development for Southern California Edison noted that it is “incredibly unusual … to bring assets [on] anywhere this rapidly”.

Grid tied solutions installed within 6 months


Planning and obtaining permits for installations of natural gas projects can often take seven to ten years. Thanks to new rapid deployment programs, energy storage solutions are installed within six months. They are meeting energy demand and replacing power plants fueled by Aliso Canyon gas at an incredibly fast rate by industry standards. But the trend is not confined to California – in Indiana AESP Corp recently installed 20 MW of storage capabilities in under a year. Adopting energy storage solutions in California was merely the first step towards a nation-wide trend.

Rapid deployment creates a paradigm shift


CEO of AESP Corp described the new trend and accompanying rapid deployment programs as a “paradigm shift”. The energy storage is currently witnessing a cost curve drop and the potential to spread across the grid in America and the rest of the world. Janice Lin, executive director of the California Energy Storage Alliance extolled on the tremendous benefits of energy storage, saying;

“It can be deployed quickly, it’s resilient, it diversifies the mix, it helps size the infrastructure more adequately to demand, it just makes the whole thing more efficient. So we agree that there’s great promise, we know that it works… so how do we make it go faster?”

Peaker plants are the dirtier alternative


If energy storage solutions are not installed, 40 GW of will need to be added to the grid with peaker plants in the coming decade, according to AES. Peaker plants run on natural gas and have the benefit of a quick setup, and ability to meet energy demands. Unfortunately they are dirtier and costlier than conventional plants. Aging infrastructure has led states to adopt a far more environmentally friendly, flexible, and reliable way of using energy – utilities and regulators merely have to determine how to implement it and make a return.

Regulators still looking at rules


“We’re not talking about whether the technology works, because we know that it does,” Kathpal said. “We’re not talking about whether it can be integrated reliably, because we know that it can. And to a large degree we’re not really talking about whether it’s cost effective, because we know that it is. We’re talking about the other things that get it in place.” Regulators in California are still figuring out the best ways of integrating these new systems with current ones. They will have to assess and develop regulations for charging, ways of aggregating storage behind the meter at businesses and residences, as well as looking at the bigger picture, such as ways for storage to be integrated into the wholesale market.

Growth is inevitable


There is an enormous amount of momentum within the renewables market and at SEC we believe that energy storage is the only way to meet the rapid demand the will accompany this growth. If you are interested in technical capabilities and specific-use cases that storage can provide, don’t hesitate to get in touch. With over forty years in the industry, we are well-positioned to be a part of this paradigm shift and provide you with the solutions you need to join it. Growth is inevitable. Visit and join our Partner Grid network today.

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