Decarbonizing electricity production is a challenge of growing importance. One potential decarbonization pathway is through the proliferation of renewable energy sources. A challenge with relying on renewable energy is that its real-time generation is weather dependent and may not be co-incident with real-time electricity demand. One possible solution to this mismatch between renewable-availability and demand patterns is energy storage. Excess renewable energy during periods of relatively low demand can be stored for use in subsequent periods of relatively low renewable availability. Without energy storage, excess renewable energy may otherwise be curtailed.
This talk summarizes a study that investigates the potential of currently available energy storage technologies to reduce renewable curtailment and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California. We show that without energy storage, adding 20 GW of wind and 40 GW of solar to the California system will achieve 76% GHG reductions (relative to 2012 levels) with close to one third of renewable energy being curtailed. Energy storage, on the other hand, allows 93% GHG reductions from the same renewable penetrations with as little as 2% of renewable energy being curtailed with some energy storage technologies.