As Texas hits 112F, here’s how big battery storage is keeping the grid online

As the brutal heat wave in Texas continues, Electrek spoke with Julia Souder, CEO of the global nonprofit Long Duration Energy Storage Council and chair of the Global Renewables Alliance, about how big battery storage is helping to keep the Texas grid online.

Electrek: How is big battery storage helping to keep the Texas grid up and running in the extreme heat?

Texas is experiencing another historic heat wave. Solar, wind, and batteries are critical for keeping the lights on by providing the power, flexibility, and stability to keep the grid running effectively.

In recent weeks, the ERCOT energy grid has seen a peak in demand, from the drawing down of 81,000 MW of power, surpassing the previous record in winter 2021. However, unlike those winter storms that left millions without power, the grid in Texas has not yet had a blackout because of the recent scaling of renewable energy and energy storage that provides clean power as gas and coal plants were taken offline.  

When long-duration energy storage (LDES) is paired with renewable energy, critical applications can stay online during times of extreme strain on the grid. LDES provides the flexibility, resiliency, and reliability needed to ensure the power stays on for hours, days, and even longer.

Electrek: To what extent is big battery storage being used in Texas, and why is it successful (or not)?

While there are LDES pilots in the works in Texas, at the moment, there is not much LDES deployed at scale – and this is the problem. As more renewable energy comes online to help decarbonize and electrify communities, LDES is needed to provide flexibility during peak demand periods over multiple hours, days, and seasons to ensure a reliable source of power where energy shifting is necessary. 

LDES is already supporting energy systems abroad, and the LDES Council anticipates a scale of up to 600 GW by 2040 in the US, aligning with the recommendations in the US Department of Energy’s Liftoff report on long-duration energy storage.

Electrek: How are policy and regulation key for LDES expansion, and what happens if a state’s legislature passes laws in favor of fossil fuels over clean energy and LDES?

Over the next five years, Texas is expected to account for nearly a quarter of US grid-scale batteries. Policy to support and expand this growth is critical. Key decision-makers must consider setting an LDES target to spur market growth and provide certainty. Texas can use LDES tax incentives as well as create a road map for developers and investors to bring a multitude of LDES benefits, including cost savings, to communities.

Acknowledging the benefits of LDES is also critical, including capacity value, grid support, and ancillary services. Some LDES technologies can be added to the grid without complicated permitting, while other LDES projects will benefit from streamlining and simplifying permitting processes. Doing so will see much-needed acceleration.

Texas leadership must push forward strong policies supporting the diverse LDES technologies that service many aspects of the Texas economy.

Electrek: What is the LDES market going to look like in the future?

The LDES market has huge opportunities for growth. However, it’s more than a power generation asset; it’s also a transmission asset. Where transmission and distribution lines are too congested, LDES will provide relief, as well as defer costs.

Texas is currently leading the way for utility-scale solar installation that will need LDES in order to ensure there is 24/7 clean power and cost reductions. It’s essential to the clean energy transition, and now is the time to support its deployment and ensure the removal of barriers that could prevent LDES from being used to its full potential.

Julia Souder is the CEO of the Long Duration Energy Storage Council. She has over 20 years of experience in the energy and environmental sectors. She is a longtime advocate of clean energy technologies, working extensively to support environment and equitable policies. Previously she held leadership positions at the LDES Association of California, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Clean Line Energy Partners, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the US Department of Energy (DOE), and founder of strategic consulting firm JAS Energies LLC.

Photo: Jupiter Power

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