Solar Power and Battery Storage could exceed 10 GW of US natural gas plants
Natural gas plants are a common source of energy supply when electricity demands are high. However, energy experts believe solar energy, combined with battery storage facilities is gradually replacing the reliance on natural gas facilities. The costs associated with solar and battery technology have dropped considerably, making these sources of energy far more competitive. Experts believe that the industry could exceed the 10 GW of natural gas capacity in the US with many industry professionals suggesting there is no further need to develop any additional natural gas facilities in the future.
Other experts suggest that natural gas plants may not even have a place after 2020 due to the rapid expansion of solar and battery storage projects. Research carried out earlier this year by the University of Minnesota suggested that solar and energy storage was already more cost-effective than natural gas plants in the region.
As with other industries, the costs of technology have declined quicker than anticipated. This reduction has caused certain regulators to reconsider current plans. For example in California, the Energy Commission are now reconsidering plans for a gas peaker plant in Oxnard, California. The Independent System Operator in California concluded that the gas plant would actually be more expensive than a storage site.
Tesla is a fine example of harnessing the power of renewable energy and energy storage technology. The Tesla 80MW plant in California was developed after regulators informed Southern California Edison to invest in battery storage after the natural gas leak at Aliso Canyon.
Whilst this is all promising for renewables and storage technology, critics suggest that projects such as the one delivered by Tesla are complicated because of the legal structure surrounding the selling of electricity. Critics also highlight that whilst natural gas is diminishing in certain areas, there are tens of thousands of MW capacity planned across the country in the coming years.