Energy & Environment

California installing 1.7 gigawatts of battery storage to avoid blackouts

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California is installing megawatt batteries into its power grid in an attempt to prevent the rolling blackouts that swept through the state over the summer.

Bloomberg reports that 1,700 megawatts of battery capacity will be installed in the state by August, enough to power about 1.3 million homes.

Though this plan may help the state avoid the blackouts it saw last year, Bloomberg notes that batteries still carry some limitations. Most battery packs are only able to run for about four hours at a time which may not be enough for multiday blackouts.

They are also more expensive than gas plants which are more commonly used as backups when demand is high.

The outlet notes that California would need around 48.8 gigawatts of energy storage in order to meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045, an amount more than five times that of all grid-scale batteries operating worldwide.

Despite some drawbacks, batteries have helped prevent blackouts in other parts of the world, Bloomberg notes, such as Australia which could bode well for California.

“There’s been enough deployment around the world and operating history that utilities seem to be comfortable with it,’’ Mike Florio, energy consultant and former member of the California Public Utilities Commission, told Bloomberg. “It seems like the performance has been as expected, if not better.”

If California’s plan goes well, it could also have positive implications for President Biden’s goal for the U.S. to be carbon-free by 2035 as that plan will also require a massive deployment of batteries as well as an expansion of renewable energy systems.

Tags California California blackout Electric battery Electric power Electrical engineering electrical grid Energy Joe Biden Lithium-ion battery power outage

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