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California’s BESS additions drive US capacity growth [free access]

September 8, 2020

Driven by California’s battery energy storage system (BESS) developments, the installed energy storage capacity in the US is experiencing remarkable growth—with expectations of doubling its capacity to 1,151 MW in 2020; reaching about 4,000 MW in 2021 and more than 7,000 MW in 2025.


According to a recent study by the UK-based research and consulting group—Wood Mackenzie, and the US Energy Storage Association (ESA)—a national trade association backed by various storage-related government departments; the US battery storage developers completed the addition of 168 MW in the second quarter of 2020; up by 117 per cent a year ago.


The study also finds that despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the energy storage market is set to witness significant growth in 2020, marked by accelerating pace and a strong pipeline of under-development projects. This would thereby facilitate the ESA’s target of deploying 100 GW of new energy storage in the US, by 2030.


However, California dominated the deployments in the second quarter of 2020, with the operationalisation of the largest BESS in San Diego County by the LS Power Group—250 MW Gateway Energy Storage—in June 2020. Nearing completion of 250 MW of one-hour storage at the facility, the developer has plans to expand to three hours of storage by next year. Utilities such as the Southern California Edison Company (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) have contracted for the project's output to support grid reliability under California's Resource Adequacy Program—which is based on ensuring reliable grid operations in real-time to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) grid, and incentivising the siting and construction of new resources required for the future.


In August 2020, LS Power also commenced work on its 200 MW/800 MWh Diablo Energy Storage Project in Pittsburg, California. The project will help reduce the capacity crunch in the State, promoting decarbonisation of its resource mix as the underlying motive.


Some of the BESS projects currently underway/announced in California are—