The U.S. Department of Energy announced on Wednesday a new goal to support the increased rollout of more wind and solar power in the grid by reducing the cost of grid-scale, long-duration energy storage by 90 percent within the decade.
The DOE initiative has very ambitious goals to accelerate breakthroughs in technology that could enable the storage of clean electricity to make it available anytime, anywhere. Analysts say that the target to slash costs 90 percent below today’s lithium-ion batteries within 2030 would not be easy to achieve.
The Biden Administration targets a carbon pollution-free electricity sector no later than 2035. This in itself is a huge challenge considering that natural gas accounted for the largest share of U.S. utility-scale electricity generation in 2020, at 40.3 percent, with fossil fuels at 60.3 percent share, also due to coal’s 19.3-percent share of the power mix.
Announcing the goal of reducing the cost of long-duration energy storage by 90 percent by 2030, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said today:
“We’re going to bring hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy onto the grid over the next few years, and we need to be able to use that energy wherever and whenever it’s needed.”
“That’s why DOE is working aggressively toward cheaper, longer duration energy storage to reach President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035,” Secretary Granholm added.
“Those cost targets won’t be easy to hit, although they’re in line with what many developers are aiming for,” Nestor Sepulveda, who led a recent study about storage costs as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The New York Times.
“One big obstacle right now is that there’s no policy requirement for utilities to build long-duration storage. It’s easier and cheaper to simply burn natural gas,” Sepulveda added.
Meanwhile, the U.S. energy storage market is booming, with 910 megawatt-hours (MWh) of new energy storage systems brought online in the first quarter of 2021, according to the latest estimates from Wood Mackenzie and the U.S. Energy Storage Association. The figure was a 252-percent jump over Q1 of last year, making it the biggest Q1 so far for the U.S. storage market.