California’s Million Panel Milestone, Will Batteries Be Next?

Image: Tomas Ovalle / LATimes

Yesterday, former California Governors Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated a big milestone for their state: the installation of 1 million small-scale solar systems. As the LA Times reported, Schwarzenegger, in 2005 set a statewide target of 1 million solar installations and launched a program that would ultimately set aside more than $3 billion for solar rebates (known as the Million Solar Roofs Initiative). In an interview, Schwarzenegger credited those rebates with growing the market.

The question now becomes: will Governor Newsom help California reach 1 million battery systems to store energy from all those panels?

The Next Step: The LA Times also noted that Dan Jacobson, director of Environment California, thinks the state should aim to install 1 million batteries by 2025. Those systems could store solar power for use in the evening — and help homes keep the lights on when utility companies intentionally shut off power to reduce the risk of wildfire ignitions.

Jacobson said state policies could help spur the nascent battery storage market in much the same way they did for rooftop solar power.

The REAL Sunshine State: While California generates A LOT of solar but battery technology it lacks a viable storage solution for all that energy that energy. As Sun Power explained,

  • California generates so much electricity from utility-scale renewables — 12,000 megawatts on a sunny day, for example — that it exports energy to neighboring states, reducing the collective power grid burden for the nation.
  • Particularly in the summertime, the Golden State is often 50 to 93 percent solar energy powered for periods of time.
  • There was even a record set in late May marking the most solar power ever flowing into the state’s grid.

Why This Matters: California is the World’s 5th largest economy and through incentives could help accelerate the battery storage market much in the same way that it did for solar panels. Additionally, a move like this would help drive down the price of batteries and help the state become a true green energy consumer. We have zero time to waste when it comes to acting on climate change and since President Trump refuses to act, big states like California will have to pick up the slack and create the necessary market incentives.

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