California Grid Operator Increases Energy Storage Deployment to Improve Summer Power Supply

Author:BSLBATT    Publish Time: 2021-05-18

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has released the company's 2021 Summer Load and Resource Assessment Survey. The report notes that energy security on the California grid will improve this summer, one factor being the rapid growth in installed capacity of deployed battery storage systems, while the grid remains vulnerable to supply stress during extreme summer heatwaves. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) operates the grid and electricity market primarily in most of California.

Elliot Mainzer, president, and CEO of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) said the survey was conducted to provide a comprehensive understanding of the power supply and demand situation in the company's service area. The report predicts that the region faces severe and continuous outages during this August's summer heatwave. The company has learned some lessons from the 2020 outage and has deployed several energy storage systems and will continue to increase its deployment, which will help the company's grid operations. The company's energy assets, which include a total installed capacity of 1,493 MW of battery storage systems, will be in service this September.

But Mainzer expressed cautious optimism, saying, "There are still risks to power reliability this year, such as extreme prolonged heat that could affect large parts of the western U.S. or the possibility of severe forest fires. By working with utilities and other service providers across California, we will provide Californians with advance notice of tight grid conditions and specific actions they can take to help reduce their electricity demand. The battery storage systems we deploy can play a constructive role in helping the transition to a low-carbon grid reliably and cost-effectively."

This time, the power supply crunch depends on the California grid importing power from other western U.S. states, which could leave the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) with a shortage of generation if it falls below normal and if the climate in the region continues to get hotter and drier.


Data source:

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) expects the state's electric system to have about 50GW of available generation from June through September of this year, with a slight increase in available generation in July and August of this year due to increased solar generation. At the same time, based on a scenario that may occur once a year or once every two years, the peak demand for electricity during this period is expected to be 45,837 MW, but if a once-in-a-decade peak demand (50,968 MW) is encountered, it will be 11 percent higher than the state's available generation capacity, and the state's power system will have difficulty meeting customers' electricity demand by then. According to the survey, the state's natural gas-fired generation facilities could meet 57 percent of peak demand, followed by hydroelectric generation (about 14 percent), followed by solar generation facilities (nearly 11 percent), and nuclear power at about 4.5 percent. Wind and biofuel generation each account for more than 3 percent, while battery storage systems currently account for only 2.8 percent, second only to demand response facilities, which account for about 2.5 percent of installed capacity, and oil-fired generation facilities, which account for only 0.2 percent.

From June 2021 through 2021,9 approximately 3,961 MW of generation will be placed in service in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) service territory, with 1,613 MW of dispatchable generation and 2,348 MW of non-dispatchable generation.

Although battery storage systems are not generation facilities per se, their ability to store excess solar and off-peak power for grid dispatch means that the total installed capacity of 1,493 MW of battery energy storage systems (BESS) represents approximately 38% of the new capacity resources available to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).


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BESS to be tested in summer, but long-term issues remain

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) recently said it expects the majority of deployed battery energy storage systems to have a four-hour sustained discharge time in the coming months. The 100MW/400MWh Alamitos battery storage project, which recently opened for operation, will be on the grid for the first time this summer during peak electricity use.

California's energy future remains uncertain in the long run, as the state needs to meet its goal of adopting 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045 and the state's Diable Canyon nuclear plant is set to be retired within the next five years.

Equally worrisome is the potential for forest fires to disrupt power supplies to a large number of homes and even entire communities in the state, for which California's investor-owned utilities have resorted to shutting down public safety power (PSPS) in an attempt to prevent fires from spreading due to failures in their aging distribution infrastructure. This has led to an increase in sales of residential solar+storage systems as well as diesel generators.

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