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Effects of Deep Reductions in Energy Storage Costs on Highly Reliable Wind and Solar Electricity Systems

Tong, Fan and Yuan, Mengyao and Lewis, Nathan S. and Davis, Steven J. and Caldeira, Ken (2020) Effects of Deep Reductions in Energy Storage Costs on Highly Reliable Wind and Solar Electricity Systems. iScience, 23 (9). Art. No. 101484. ISSN 2589-0042. doi:10.1016/j.isci.2020.101484.

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We use 36 years (1980–2015) of hourly weather data over the contiguous United States (CONUS) to assess the impact of low-cost energy storage on highly reliable electricity systems that use only variable renewable energy (VRE; wind and solar photovoltaics). Even assuming perfect transmission of wind and solar generation aggregated over CONUS, energy storage costs would need to decrease several hundred-fold from current costs (to ∼$1/kWh) in fully VRE electricity systems to yield highly reliable electricity without extensive curtailment of VRE generation. The role of energy storage changes from high-cost storage competing with curtailment to fill short-term gaps between VRE generation and hourly demand to near-free storage serving as seasonal storage for VRE resources. Energy storage faces “double penalties” in VRE/storage systems: with increasing capacity, (1) the additional storage is used less frequently and (2) hourly electricity costs would become less volatile, thus reducing price arbitrage opportunities for the additional storage.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Tong, Fan0000-0003-4661-3956
Yuan, Mengyao0000-0002-5923-4085
Lewis, Nathan S.0000-0001-5245-0538
Davis, Steven J.0000-0002-9338-0844
Caldeira, Ken0000-0002-4591-643X
Additional Information:© 2020 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( Received 4 December 2019, Revised 14 June 2020, Accepted 17 August 2020, Available online 20 August 2020. Published: September 25, 2020. We thank Jacqueline A. Dowling, Lei Duan, Patrick T. Brown, Dan Tong, Yixuan Zheng, and David J. Farnham for their insightful inputs. This work was supported by a gift from Gates Ventures LLC. Author Contributions: F.T., N.S.L., and K.C. designed the study; F.T., M.Y., and K.C. developed the model with inputs from N.S.L. and S.J.D.; F.T. and K.C. performed the analysis with inputs from M.Y., N.S.L., and S.J.D.; F.T. drafted the manuscript; F.T., M.Y., N.S.L., S.J.D., and K.C. edited the manuscript. The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Energy Resources; Energy Policy; Energy Engineering
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200922-152836539
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Official Citation:Fan Tong, Mengyao Yuan, Nathan S. Lewis, Steven J. Davis, Ken Caldeira, Effects of Deep Reductions in Energy Storage Costs on Highly Reliable Wind and Solar Electricity Systems, iScience, Volume 23, Issue 9, 2020, 101484, ISSN 2589-0042, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105480
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Sep 2020 22:57
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:43

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