Renewable energy storage costs need to drop 90%, says US study


A new study suggests that technologies with storage capacity costs below US $20/kWh will almost guarantee a 100% renewably supplied electricity system, representing a near 90% reduction in costs of materials and manufacturing.


The study, titled the Storage requirements and costs of shaping renewable energy toward grid decarbonization, published last week in the journal Joule by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has found that a large drop in costs is required for future energy storage systems.

Costs and analytics in the paper only relate to four US locations: Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts and Texas.

Senior author of the paper, Jessika Trancik said, “Quantifying cost targets for energy storage required a new piece of insight about how patterns of the renewable energy supply, and fluctuations in this supply compare to electricity demand profiles.”

The large shortage periods that can occur in wind and solar generation “are critical in determining how much storage is needed for renewables to reliably meet demand,” says Trancik.

This consideration encouraged the study’s authors to consider data over 20 years, which revealed disparities in demand and potential renewable supply, as well as the need for energy storage.

“The trick,” said Trancik, “is to figure out how to supply electricity for the remaining 5% of hours. This could potentially be accomplished with supplemental generation technologies, or perhaps demand-side management.”

“This work’s novel contribution is to estimate the costs of using wind and solar energy with storage to reliably supply various output profiles,” write the authors.


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