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Surprising energy source takes sector by storm after saving heat-battered states in summer: 'On pace for a record year'

"Utilities and larger power users increasingly turn to storage to enhance the grid and improve reliability."

“Utilities and larger power users increasingly turn to storage to enhance the grid and improve reliability.”

Photo Credit: iStock

Unbeknownst to millions of residents of California and Texas, batteries kept them cool during the extreme heat that plagued both states during the summer of 2023. 

Though the energy needed from these storage batteries was relatively small compared to overall energy usage, it was enough to help the grid survive. And now, the capacity for energy storage is about to skyrocket.

In 2020, Texas only had 275 megawatts of storage capacity, according to the Texas Tribune. In early 2021, millions of homes in Texas went without power when the energy grid failed due to an extreme winter weather event, but the state that is firmly entrenched in the production of dirty energy has seen enormous growth in the clean energy sector since then.

Texas now has over 3,500 megawatts operating on the grid today and is expected to reach over 10,000 megawatt capacity by the end of 2024, according to the Tribune which stated that one megawatt is enough to power about 200 homes.

Just as the coal and gas-fired power plants failed the state in 2021, many shut down again due to the heat in 2023, leaving battery-stored energy, along with solar power, to pick up the slack.

In the second quarter of 2023, the United States set a record for newly built grid storage capacity, per a report from the American Clean Power Association and Wood Mackenzie. California and Texas led the growth, per Canary Media.

In the last few years, California has increased its storage capacity tenfold, with new facilities continuing to be built, Canary reported. Construction on a 700-megawatt storage facility was recently completed in Palm Springs, per Renewable Energy World, along with a new energy storage project outside San Diego that will reportedly be able to power nearly 3,000 homes, as The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. That's just to name a couple of the massive projects being undertaken in the state.

But California and Texas aren't alone. 

Former coal plants in Minnesota and Colorado are being transformed into battery storage facilities. On top of that, several coal-powered plants in Michigan are slated to close in the coming years, some of which will be turned into solar power and battery storage facilities. The transition is made easier due to the fact that these plants are already connected to the power grid.

John Hensley, vice president of research and analytics at the American Clean Power Association, said of the surge in battery storage, "The energy storage market is on pace for a record year, as utilities and larger power users increasingly turn to storage to enhance the grid and improve reliability."

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