Affordable battery storage may be only three or four years away from replacing emissions-heavy, simple-cycle gas turbines to supply the peak power utilities need during the 200 to 250 hours each year when electricity demand is highest.
“About 20% of New York State’s generation fleet runs less than 250 hours a year,” Lyons notes, so gas-fired peaker plants “are by design the cheapest and least efficient fossil generators. When they do run, they cost a lot to operate, and produce more air pollution than other types of fossil generation.”
But according to a white paper by Lyons’ firm, Energy Strategies Group, that’s all about to change: While peak-load turbines cost at least $670 per installed kilowatt, or sometimes more than twice as much, a four-hour storage battery could come in as low as $348 by 2017 and $248 by 2018.
“Factoring in the added value of locating storage on the distribution grid and ownership and operation by a vertical utility, four-hour energy storage will win over CTs [combustion turbines] at the high end of the CT cost range by 2017,” Lyons writes.