Pumped Energy Storage: Vital to California’s Renewable Energy Future

Executive Summary

California is a world leader in renewable energy. The state already sources  nearly one-third of its power from renewables, mainly solar and wind. With recent legislation in place, renewable energy will increase to 60 percent or more by   2030. In tandem with renewable energy goals, the state is striving for 100 percent clean energy by 2045 to fight global warming. Shifting to more renewable energy requires forward thinking to balance supplies and demands while optimizing the use of these renewables for California ratepayers. Since renewable energy sources in California are largely from solar and wind, leveraging these resources requires additional electrical grid flexibility that can be best provided by energy  storage.

This renewable energy revolution is attractive for California, but it requires sustained support that will hinge on three factors. First, California must assure its ratepayers that a renewable grid will be cost-effective and reliable. Second, it must show that the renewable energy revolution will promote inclusive growth—with good jobs created in California and kept in California. And finally, it must ensure that the shift to renewables also delivers on the state’s goals to fight climate

Making Renewable Power a Reality

A massive shift to renewables will require new kinds of investments, markets,   and business practices. Electric grids will need to be more flexible; new kinds of power supplies will help deliver energy flexibility when needed; and new pricing systems are needed to send clear signals to consumers so that they adjust their energy usage based on the times of day when electricity is most plentiful. What’s unclear is how quickly or effectively all these changes will be realized and  how these changes will align with what is best for California. For example, large electric grids across the Western U.S. can help import renewable electricity, but such investments won’t create jobs from a renewable energy revolution in California.

While many pieces are needed in California’s energy puzzle to make the shift to renewable power, there is one piece that will become pivotally important: energy storage. Perhaps more than anything else, energy storage will be the key to a successful California renewable energy revolution.

The Pivotal Role of Large-Scale Energy Storage

Large-scale energy storage provides four interconnected services that are  essential to facilitating California’s big shift to renewables: 1) balancing generation with demand; 2) improving transmission efficiency; 3) providing electric grid stability; and 4) shifting power supply over long  periods.

Large-scale energy storage is a highly cost-effective way to provide each of these services. Academic research and practical experience show that energy storage is vital to integrating renewable power in ways that keep the electric grid reliable. Energy storage can also help ensure that renewable power is used both day and night, making it easier to move beyond fossil fuels and help California meet its ambitious climate goals.

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Pumped Energy Storage: Vital to California’s Renewable Energy Future