Renewables plus batteries: co-deployments over time?

More and more renewables plus batteries projects are being developed as grids face bottlenecks? On average, projects in 2022-24 supplemented each MW of renewables capacity with 0.5MW of battery capacity, which in turn offered 3.5 hours of energy storage per MW of battery capacity, for 1.7 MWH of energy storage per MW of renewables.

Co-deployments of renewables and batteries are tracked in this data-file, tabulating the details of over 100 projects that combined a grid-scale battery with their construction of wind and/or solar assets. The average of these projects in 2022-24 added 0.5MW of battery capacity per MW of renewables, with 3.5 hours of energy storage, for 1.7 MWH of energy storage per MW of renewables.

These numbers have all approximately doubled versus a decade ago, when the co-development of renewables plus batteries was a rarity, and tended to occur at smaller scale. This suggests that rising interconnection costs and risks of curtailment are motivating greater deployment of batteries.

A dozen recent renewables plus battery projects are very large in size, ranging from 100-1,000MW of battery storage capacity, almost all being developed in 2020 or thereafter (chart below). For example, the 875MW Edwards & Sanborn solar project in Kern County, California is co-located with 971MW of BESS units from LGChem, Samsung and BYD.

Conversely, the largest batteries from pre-2017 are c30-50MW in size, and many of the technical papers over this timeframe are consciously considering different battery chemistries — lead-acid, sodium-sulphide — rather than today’s projects that are predominantly LFP lithium ion.

The duration of these grid-scale batteries has also increased from 2.6 hours prior to 2020 to 3.5 hours after 2020, with the upper decile projects hacing 5-6 hours of storage (chart below).

It is fine to co-develop renewables with batteries, but it is also more costly. A utility-scale solar project might cost $1,000/kW. A grid-scale battery might cost $1,500/kW. Hence combining 0.5MW of batteries per MW of solar might cost $1,750/kW in total, re-inflating levelized costs of solar by around 50-75%, but still possibly less costly than funding network upgrades.

Our long-term forecasts for power grid capex assume that 0.15MW of grid-scale batteries will be deployed per MW of renewables capacity, comprising a mixture of standalone renewables projects and renewables projects that are co-developed with batteries. And there could be upside?

Companies that stood out in deploying and supplying grid-scale batteries are noted in the data-file.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2019-2024.