Clean power capacity surges in second quarter marked by a record rise in energy storage
Energize Weekly, September 1, 2021
A record-breaking 5,620 megawatts (MW) of clean power capacity was installed in the second quarter of 2021 with battery storage becoming a bigger portion of the mix, according to an American Clean Power Association market report.
The future prospects for battery storage – which moved into fourth place for installations behind onshore wind – are even more robust with the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasting as much as 10,000 MW new installations by 2023.
“Energy storage plays a pivotal role in enabling power grids to function with more flexibility and resilience,” the EIA said.
The strongest-ever second quarter for clean energy installations raised the total for the first half of 2021 to 9,815 MW, also a record. There is now more than 180,216 MW of clean power capacity operating in the U.S.
Fifty-six new projects came online in 27 states during the quarter, with four states tallying about half the capacity. Texas led with 1,489 MW, followed by California with 585 MW, Michigan with 424 MW and Florida with 373 MW.
There are also 906 projects, a total of 101,897 MW, in the pipeline either under construction or in advanced development.
Solar has the largest share of capacity in the pipeline, 54 percent, followed by land-based wind with 23 percent, onshore wind at 14 percent and battery storage at 9 percent.
“Battery energy storage experienced the most dramatic quarterly growth as installations surged 439 percent over the 104 MW installed in the first quarter,” the market report said. “Year-to-date storage capacity additions now tally 674 MW, not far off the full year 2020 total.”
There are 202 operating battery storage projects across 34 states with California having the most installed battery storage – 1,300 MW or 55 percent of the national total. Texas has 303 MW, 12 percent of total capacity, followed by Illinois with 133 MW, a 5 percent share.
Priming the growth in storage has been its coupling with renewable generating projects. Solar-plus-storage installations in operation account for 2,251 MW, about 5 percent of operating solar projects, and there are 1,892 MW of wind-plus-storage.
Another 2,945 MW of solar-plus-storage and 1,080 MW of wind-plus storage are in the pipeline and expected to come online in the coming months.
The EIA projects that the U.S. is set to add 10,000 MW of large-scale battery storage between 2021 and 2023 – ten times the total capacity in 2019 – in large part because of the trend to co-locating storage and renewable generation.
“We expect the relationship between solar energy and battery storage to change in the United States over the next three years because most planned upcoming projects will be co-located with generation, in particular with solar facilities,” the agency said. “If all currently announced projects from 2021 to 2023 become operational, then the share of U.S. battery storage that is co-located with generation would increase from 30 percent to 60 percent.”
Another driver has been the sharp decline in battery capital costs, dropping 72 percent between 2015 to 2019, when the price was $589 a kilowatt-hour (kWh)
“These lower costs support more capacity to store energy at each storage facility, which can increase the duration that each battery system can last when operating at its maximum power,” the EIA said.