U.S. Installed Battery Storage Capacity Increased More Than Tenfold Over the Last Decade: EIA

U.S. operational large-scale battery storage increased to 869 megawatts of installed power capacity by the end of 2018, from just 59 megawatts in 2010, according to an Aug. 10 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The agency  published a report regarding utility-scale battery-storage capacity usage from 2010 to 2018. The document provides a  glance at how the industry at large has blossomed in the past decade. Geographic diversity within installation location is similarly a growing trend. The majority of battery-storage capacity facilities are in two grid operator regions: PJM Interconnection and California Independent System Operator. PJM serves 13 eastern and Midwestern states as well as the District of Columbia. In 2018, installations surged in states outside these regions, including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as the regions served by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.

The report details the growth trend based on power capacity, which refers to the “maximum amount of power output a battery can provide in any instant” and energy capacity, the “total amount of energy that can be stored or discharged by a battery.” Among the key statistics:

  • In 2010, the U.S. had seven operational battery storage systems providing 59 megawatts of power capacity and 21 megawatthours of energy capacity; by the conclusion of 2018, these figures rose dramatically to 125 operational systems, representing a cumulative 869 megawatts of power capacity and 1,236 megawatt hours of energy capacity.
  • From 2010-2018, PJM and California system operator regions accounted for 55 percent of the total battery storage power capacity built; however, in 2018, more than 58 percent of power capacity additions occurred in states outside of those areas.
  • Average costs per-unit of energy capacity have decreased by 61 percent between 2015 and 2017, from $2,153/kWh to $834/kWh.

The expansion in other grid operator regions is due largely to procurement targets, financial incentives, and long-term planning mechanisms that encourage battery installations in the respective states. Alaska and Hawaii, which feature isolated power grids, have expanded battery capacity to increase self-sufficient reliability and to reduce reliance on more expensive fossil fuel imports.

Moreover, the increase in battery-storage capacity presented an inverse relationship with cost, endearing it further as a robust power source. The drastic fall in costs has asserted battery-storage as an economical, pragmatic solution, especially as renewable sources including wind and solar similarly continue their rise in use.