NREL Energy Storage System Cost Benchmark

Guest post by Roger Caiazza

One of the biggest issues with plans to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy is intermittency. At some point that can only be addressed by energy storage but tracking down those costs is difficult. I recently found a recently released report from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL): “2018 U.S. Utility-Scale Photovoltaics-Plus-Energy Storage System Cost Benchmark” that provides information that can be used to estimate the costs of the energy storage option.

According to the NREL summary, authors Fu and Margolis, along with fellow NREL researcher Timothy Remo, provide NREL’s first cost benchmarking of energy storage and PV-plus-storage systems. The abstract for the report states:

“Market growth for utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems has been rapid for several years. Today, with the cost reductions of energy storage technologies, combining PV and energy storage has become feasible and beneficial, especially for the areas that have only PV standalone systems and need to shift the peak load to meet electricity demand in the evening. Overall, utility-scale PV plus energy storage systems can provide dispatchable energy and reliable capacity. This study details cost factors, including labor costs, material costs, overhead, and permitting costs using a system-level bottom-up cost modeling approach. We use this model to benchmark PV-plus-storage installation system cost and identify the cost difference for AC- and DC-coupled systems and duration variation. Finally, we assess the cost reduction opportunities of co-locating PV systems with energy storage systems in order to indicate the possible economic impacts of the PV-plus-storage configuration and help future research and development (R&D) effects in the context of U.S. energy storage policymaking.”

I was interested in the cost benchmark aspects of U.S. Li-ion standalone energy storage systems. NREL calculates that “For a standalone storage system, assuming a constant battery price of $209 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the installed system costs vary from $380/kWh for a four-hour battery system to $895/kWh for a 30-minute battery system.” I evaluated their data and provide cost estimates for different durations below.

Table 3 in the NREL document, Detailed Cost Breakdown for a 60-MW U.S. Li-ion Standalone Storage System with Durations of 0.5–4 Hours, provides the information necessary to extend their projections to different durations. I have included that table below. For example, NREL estimated the installation labor and expense cost ranging from 0.5 hours to 4 hours. I fit a linear regression model to describe the relationship between that and other costs and energy storage duration so I could extend the cost estimates. I use Statgraphics Centurion software from StatPoint Technologies, Inc. to do my statistical analyses because it provides flexible plotting and regression tools. Statgraphics enables the user to choose the best relationship from 27 different linear regression equations. In this evaluation in every instance, the reciprocal-X model (Y = a + b/X) statistic was the best choice and every regression had an R-squared coefficient great than 99.9% which indicates a strong relationship and suggests that these estimates are good enough for this analysis.

The last table lists the estimate cost breakdown $/kWh parameters for a 60-MW U.S. Li-ion standalone storage system. This analysis estimates installed system costs vary from $343/kWh for an eight-hour battery system and $355/kWh for a six-hour battery system. The table provides the parameters so that the $/kWh value for any duration system can be calculated.

I think it is best to put these numbers into some context relative to the grand plans proposed by Progressive politicians. On July 3, 2019, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced “$55 million for energy storage including commercial and residential storage projects on Long Island. This program will be launched with an initial rollout of nearly $15 million in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Energy storage projects supported by this Long Island initiative will advance progress toward achieving New York’s target of 3,000 megawatts of energy storage deployed by 2030 – the equivalent to powering 40 percent of New York’s homes.” If they use Li-ion batteries and the duration of the batteries is four hours the 3,000 MW goal alone will cost $4.56 billion at a rate of $380/kWh. In other words the $55 million will advance this goal 1.2% or 36 MW and 145 MWh assuming 4-hour duration batteries.

One final note, I have heard it said elsewhere that energy storage publicity is lax when it comes to information value. The press release is no exception. Cuomo’s target is 3,000 MW and while knowing the power target is nice what we really need to know is the energy (MWh). I had to assume 4-hour duration because I have never seen any value given by Cuomo or his minions. The announcement does claim that 3,000 MW can “power 40% of New York’s homes”. The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority Patterns and Trends document notes that New York State sales of electricity to the residential sector totaled 50,831 GWh and total sales were 147,803 GWh in 2016. According to the New York State Independent System Operator Load and Capacity Data report for 2019 the state summer capability was 39,295 MW. If we assume that residential power in MW is proportional to residential sales to total sales then the residential capability is 13,336 MW and the 3,000 energy storage target is 22% of the power sold to New York homes.

Roger Caiazza blogs on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York. This represents his opinion and not the opinion of any of his previous employers or any other company he has been associated with.

NREL Table 3. Detailed Cost Breakdown for a 60-MW U.S. Li-ion Standalone Storage System with Durations of 0.5–4 Hours


Calculated Cost Breakdown $/kWh Parameters for a 60-MW U.S. Li-ion Standalone Storage System
UPDATE – corrected Li-Ion battery total costs and total energy system costs for 8-hour and 6-hour duration systems

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July 16, 2019 10:27 am

Analyses like this are commonly done for proposed projects. Invariably, the real costs ALWAYS skyrocket above the initial estimates, often by many times. Unknown unknowns among other things.

Reply to  beng135
July 16, 2019 11:55 am

No, they’re wearing blinders. They not only fail to see what they must in order to do a proper analysis – they refuse to. They didn’t make a mistake or perform a failed analysis, they came to their foregone and foreordained conclusion.

Loren Wilson
Reply to  beng135
July 16, 2019 6:11 pm

I agree with you if it is done by a government entity or one that has no real controls on its budget. The private sector has to be much closer to reality. Scope creep and cost overruns are still a large problem in any capital project. The oil company I worked for could afford to run over budget on a few projects per year but the rest of them had to be fairly accurately estimated. Experience and a finite amount of money trump a government official who will suffer little repercussions if the project doesn’t work out, since it wasn’t his money in the first place.

Bob boder
July 16, 2019 11:07 am

“For a standalone storage system, assuming a constant battery price of $209 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the installed system costs vary from $380/kWh for a four-hour battery system to $895/kWh for a 30-minute battery system.”

is this ass back words or am i reading it wrong.

Reply to  Bob boder
July 16, 2019 12:42 pm

You are reading it wrong.

The faster the batteries can be charged/discharged the more the system costs.

It is the price per kWh that the battery costs are fixed for, the shorter time to discharge it the higher the power for that time. So a 100 kWh system that can deliver 200 kW for 30 minutes costs more than a system that can deliver 25 kW for 4 hours.

You are thinking that the power (kW) is fixed and so the longer it can operate for the more energy (kWh) it needs to store.

Reply to  BillP
July 16, 2019 5:01 pm

The major reason, although draw rate is also a factor – $209 is the national price for the part. Someone in NYC can buy that battery for the same price as I can in Tucson (disregarding taxes).

The huge range is for the installation. It depends on how much the land and building for it costs, how much the labor costs, whether you have to build out a new transmission line from the battery installation to the existing high power lines for distribution, and… taxes.

Daniel Bryce
Reply to  Bob boder
July 16, 2019 4:28 pm

$209/KWh, and then add labor to instal.

Installing a larger system is more labore efficient (less labor/KWh)

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Daniel Bryce
July 19, 2019 7:44 pm

And lots of integration equipment. DC to AC inverters cost as much as the batteries.

Tom Halla
July 16, 2019 11:08 am

And four hours is quite insufficient to back up even a solar system.

July 16, 2019 11:10 am

When the 8 hours is up, what then?
The lights go out.
And when the light come on, how long to recharge the batteries.
How long will the batteries last, especially if they are run on full discharge?

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
Reply to  StephenP
July 16, 2019 12:40 pm

If the lights are shining on the solar panels, it will go on forever.


Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
July 16, 2019 1:51 pm


Reply to  Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
July 17, 2019 9:57 am

Sure! And I have designed a car that runs on its own wind power. Just put the turbine out the window and coast along forever. Laws of physics be damned!

July 16, 2019 11:23 am

Do they ever address loss of battery capacity over time? If these batteries are anything like the one in my Pixel 2, they will be at 70% capacity after two years

Reply to  Marcos
July 16, 2019 11:38 am

Battery performance (where >70% of original is considered good) is a function of the number of charges, the rate of charge, the charge level when recharged, and the temperature when recharging.

Generally, a LIon loses a small % of capacity with every charge. A good battery will last, using the 70% yardstick, 1000-2000 charges from low levels. A battery that is only charged at 65%-75% levels, will keep performance for up to 10k charges.

Charging at high, or especially low temps, will suffer quicker degradation. Charging at low temps greatly increases the chances of a fire later in battery life. (most large batteries have temp sensors and/or heaters to prevent this)

70% capacity after two years, if you use it every day, is not unusual. 70% is generally considered the lower limit of acceptability.

James Papsdorf
July 16, 2019 11:28 am

I suggest that we all check out the zinc-air battery from MGXRenewables in Vancouver,BC! At about $10 per KWh, no worries about fires and 20 years life, , they are a no brainier compared to the lithium ion option.

Reply to  James Papsdorf
July 17, 2019 6:24 am

re: “they are a no brainier compared to the lithium ion option.”

If this were true, everyone would be using them … is that an unreasonable hypothesis?

So – where must the “fly in the ointment” lie?

Reply to  James Papsdorf
July 17, 2019 6:59 am

I’ve heard claims from the billionaire owner of the LA Times about zinc-air batteries. I don’t know why I don’t hear more news about it.

Reply to  James Papsdorf
July 17, 2019 10:01 am


MGX Renewables Inc. (formerly ZincNyx Energy Solutions) has developed a unique flow battery technology using zinc and air as fuel.

Huh – what!?

Is it a battery – or a source of energy? “Air as fuel” – what gives?

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  _Jim
July 19, 2019 8:19 pm

It’s a fuel cell based chemical energy system.

Too bad the fuel cell us still in the R&D process!

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  James Papsdorf
July 19, 2019 8:03 pm

From their Dec 2018 news piece:

All components of the system have been designed, tooled and received with the exceptions of the fuel cell….


Excuse me! Everything is done except the fuel cell.

Well, at least they have wiring and mount plates finalized.

Steve O
July 16, 2019 11:37 am

I had a hard time following this. The $55 million supposedly funds power for 40% of NY homes, but for how long? Half an hour? Four hours?

Bryan A
Reply to  Steve O
July 16, 2019 12:41 pm

Perhaps just long enough to fire a Reliable CC Gas power plant and get high quality juice flowing through the wires

Reply to  Bryan A
July 17, 2019 3:33 am

Yes, in reality it is the conventional power stations that provide the “battery” for intermittent sources, reducing power when there is a surplus, and increasing power when there is a deficit.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Bryan A
July 17, 2019 4:21 am

Only intelligent comment thus far. This Unicorn pipe dream is intellectual masturbation.

Roger Caiazza
Reply to  Steve O
July 16, 2019 1:17 pm

That is the big question. There was no estimate of how many MW $55 million would buy and they never have given an estimate of MWh which would answer your question.

Bryan A
Reply to  Roger Caiazza
July 16, 2019 2:19 pm

Probably because they don’t want to admit it will supply 40% of NY homes with 5% of their daily power supply 3% of the time…But it will do it for 40% of NY homes

Roger Caiazza
Reply to  Bryan A
July 16, 2019 4:16 pm


Daniel Bryce
Reply to  Steve O
July 16, 2019 4:37 pm

If you read the article to the end, he shows $55M will only power 0.264% (1.2% of 22%) of homes.

My bet is that the $55M will not be used to cover full cost, but rather to subsidize installations. So for a 25% subsidy, multiply by 4 the number of (wealthy) households served.

For how long? No one is saying. The author of this article is generous and assumes 4hours.

Reply to  Daniel Bryce
July 17, 2019 6:47 am

My bet is the $55 million will be used to pay salaries, especially the CEO’s, and for paper studies. Then there is the research and purchase of suitable land, etc.

There are a lot of upfront costs before you even think about installation.

If you want agood example of how these projects blow through money, look at the money sornd on California’s bullet train debacle. The blew through their budget befor the first track was laid.

Reply to  jtom
July 18, 2019 8:04 am

Oregon has been planning to build a new I5 bridge over the Columbia R. for decades now. Seven years ago or so they admitted to having spent 1 billion just on design and planning the project. There was quite a public backlash at the cost and I haven’t heard another dollar amount since but the project has yet to be started so I would guess it’s a few hundred million more in planning tacked on.

A “Stupidity, it burns” moment. They did come out with a final design at one point. Because the Columbia R. at Portland is considered a sea port the design has to be approved by the Coast Guard. The CG told them at the beginning they needed to meet a minimum height for ship traffic, the bridge design the commission settled on came in several feet lower than the minimum required height…

Reply to  Daniel Bryce
July 17, 2019 10:01 am

It depends on the temperature control of the batteries and loads, load variability, battery and source degradation, and, generation source and battery availability. So, excess capacity is needed. Batteries deteriorate with 1) time, and 2) cycles, and 2a) the c-rate of charge, and 2b) the rate as mentioned above of discharge… A lot of this is non-linear.

Haven’t got time to go through it now. But, in one estimate I did it would take a battery 150 times larger than Elon Musk estimated to power the grid exclusively from solar for a guaranteed deliver of a watt with good power factor between generation and load in the winter. We use only about 80% as much electricity relative to summer but TSI is only about half that of summer in the US. That should be the constraint to start in the design.

Maybe I’m off a bit. But not by a tremendous margin. O&M on batteries and panels has to be included. Days of autonomy for bad weather has too be included. Disposal on an ongoing basis has to be included. Did not factor in the energy for that. But, as I understand it lithium though a minuscule element in any lithium chemistry battery is only recoverable at a 5% rate insofar as I’ve read. Major problems just burying the stuff. Add in the air conditioned control rooms and server farms to regulate this. It is a complex problem.

The numbers become astounding.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  BlueDevil93
July 19, 2019 8:33 pm

The EOS Aurora battery has several test installs in progress. It is the only non-lithium battery being tested/evaluated by California,

– no air-conditioning required
– no fire-suppression equipment required
– 0.25 MW unit is the size of a shipping container, but they can be physically widely distributed across a large solar park.
– zinc-air design requires no special disposal handling
– about 25% cheaper per KWh than Tesla’s grid battery
– computer models and accelerated real-world testing show at least 5,000 cycle live, and possibly 10,000

Curious George
July 16, 2019 11:40 am

Why don’t these scientists consider lead-acid or sodium-sulfur batteries?

Reply to  Curious George
July 17, 2019 10:25 am

I can’t speak to sodium-sulfur. But, flooded lead acid likes a c-rate of c/8 (think 8 hours but it is actually more unless one goes partial state of charge, which, increase sulfation). That said there is only 2-3 hours of TSI on average on a clear winter day. So, you have to inefficiently burn fossil fuel to charge them.

Remember any and all batteries have a negative EROEI relative to the fuel burned or created to charge them. In other worlds batteries contribute too the pollution problem.

Joel O’Bryan
July 16, 2019 11:42 am

4, 6, 8 hours systems????
New York with cloudy days and snow covered PV panels in the winter makes the bad economics of battery storage PV systems even worse. And if you’re charging batteries with fossil fuel or nuclear power, you’re lying about what the intent is.
As for wind farms, it is a huge NIMBY problem for onshore wind farms anywhere in the NorthEast. Offshore wind farms for New York with only a small coast line along Long Island can’t produce enough electricity for the 5 burrough NYC much less the entire state.

Even in the mid-summer in the southwest US, fixed panel PV only provides electricity for at best ~10 hours a day. In the winter that number is < 8 hours. So a battery system would be in discharge mode for 14 to 16 hours, and it would of course have to have its own dedicated solar farm for its charging.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
July 16, 2019 12:34 pm

Several DAYS of storage are required to get through long cloudy periods…NOT hours (hours just gets you through NORMAL sunny and windy days to supply evening peak usage every normal day) AND lots of EXTRA SOLAR AND WIND generation CAPACITY is required to charge up the backup systems. Some systems require 50% more generating capacity (than average daytime usage) in order to be able to charge up the batteries. I’ll bet that’s not in the plan.

Reply to  DocSiders
July 16, 2019 4:13 pm

actually about 6 months are required to get you through a cold grey high latitude winter: the output from winter panels is <10% of summer values.

Reply to  Leo Smith
July 17, 2019 6:53 am

Yep. Even if you get a sunny day in the winter, the sun is low in the sky. It looks to me that unless you have a shack with a wood-fired stove for heating and cooking, and little electrical power needs, solar isn’t practical north of Tenneessee.

Bryan A
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
July 16, 2019 12:38 pm

Due to population density of Manhattan, Solar Electrification of NY, NY alone would take covering half of Long Island, all of Kings, Queens, and the Bronx just to replace current electric consumption, without battery charging available.
To replace ALL energy sources, provide for battery back-up recharging (for overnight use) and allow for the electrification of transportation (and their required battary back-up recharging systems would require covering an area the size of Connecticut with panels (Just for Manhattan)
Figures based on the acreage of Topaz Solar Farm and the energy it produces (when the sun shines)

Paul Villella
July 16, 2019 11:44 am

Figures don’t lie, but liers figure. Statistics are mallable to the will of the one putting forth the ititial suppositions. Moore’s law is at work here in energy storage as well as solar, likewise (pumped and selectively ramped) hydro storage is the least cost (currently). It’s interesting that the author picked batteries to prove out a cost-benefit analysis.
More likely than not solar and wind will be built in abundance and Time-of-Use rate schemes will make smart homes able to fashion opportunistic uses. Likewise, electric vehicle V2G will offer owner groups and web virtual battery banks the opportunity to allow utilities to forego brick and mortar systems on-site at RE generating facilities. Ie the inferences made are just “much Ado about Nothing”.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Paul Villella
July 16, 2019 8:14 pm

Paul, what are your experiences in electric power generation, transmission and distribution? Your B.S. is manifest.

Reply to  Paul Villella
July 17, 2019 4:53 am

re: “More likely than not solar and wind will be built in abundance and Time-of-Use rate schemes will make smart homes able to fashion opportunistic uses. ”

So, it will be “Nature tames Man” versus (up to this point in history) “Man tames Nature”?

Every activity, every “doing of the dishes” will rely upon the whims of old Sól and the vagaries of the wind.

Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2019 7:54 pm

UN Sustainable Development

“A Renewable Portfolio Standard (State of Texas)”

Dates back to about 1999.

Information webpage on this topic.

Reply to  Barbara
July 18, 2019 12:18 am

Note further down on that page it states:

Progress reports
No updates available

I’m presently at about 18 c per kWh (all in, incl Oncor delivery charge) here in Tejas, with little prospect of whittling that down much … our rates have done nothing but go up since deregulation and ‘renewables’ became part of the mix. Some of that ‘stranded’ cost is going to be those expensive transmission lines running from west Tejas wind farms back to ‘load centers’ in the eastern half of the state.


Reply to  Paul Villella
July 17, 2019 6:17 am

Moore’s law is at work here in energy storage as well as solar

Moore’s Law doesn’t apply to batteries, wind-pinwheels, or sun panels as these are already decades or more old, mature technologies. Even manufacturing cost won’t go down as China already mass-produces them. Subsidies are the only way cost can be keep down as is currently the situation.

Reply to  Paul Villella
July 17, 2019 6:22 am

Anyone who declares that Moore’s law has anything to do with solar power is someone who hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about.
Moore’s law has to do with the number of transistors that can be squeezed onto a piece of silicon. There are no transistors on solar cells.

You are correct that liars can figure, you have proven it.

Reply to  Paul Villella
July 17, 2019 7:03 am

Take your rose-colored glasses off, and look at reality. Let us assume you can capture 100% of the solar energy falling on the ground, and convert it to electricity with 100% efficiency. Regardless of your faith in Moore’s law, you cannot increase the output of your panels.

What would it take to provide power for Singapore under those assumptions? A solar field footprint three times the size of the city.

Now, Singapore is very close to the equator; NYC isn’t. I’ll leave it to you to ponder the implications of that.

Reply to  Paul Villella
July 17, 2019 8:31 am

Here Paul-
and here’s the typical windpower output for my continent-
Down to 1.9% of installed capacity is not a good look so what sort of battery investment is required to iron that lot out at to even get to around one third of installed capacity on average over a year?

But EVs are also direct competitors for lithium batteries and we have to change the world’s car fleet over with them and at the same time replace them all when they wear out.
Utter supercalifragilistexpialitrocious fantasmaGoracle bovine excrement or they’ve been sniffing the plant food again.

July 16, 2019 11:44 am

There are not enough battery storage systems in use to have much of a data set to work with yet, so all the fancy correlations and best fit algorithms are essentially meaningless at this point.

What we do know is that costs for PVs have been reduced drastically (by greater than 2/3) in the last decade, and the costs for battery storage are coming down, but not so drastically.

Also, it should be noted that intermittency is not nearly the issue with solar power as it is with wind power, since peak demand for electrical power always is a daytime affair, not at night when the sun doesn’t shine. Which is why the utilities are always trying to price power in such a way as to encourage greater demand at night than in the day. Depending upon where one lives, the daytime peaking factor can vary a great deal, but the daytime is always the peak demand.

Perhaps in another 5 years give or take, there will be enough battery storage systems to have a statistcally significant data set to work with.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Duane
July 16, 2019 12:40 pm

Cloudy days, especially heavy overcast is a major problem with solar PV. Shorter winter days and snow in the higher latitudes are also limiting factors.

For the past 40 years I’ve been told that solar PV and battery storage was “getting better all the time” and soon would be able to provide all our energy (for free!), which was good because we were quickly running out of oil and gas. All that turned out to be wrong. Anybody that spouts that nonsense today is either ignorant or lying.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
July 16, 2019 4:31 pm

In Duane’s case, ignorant and lying can’t be dismissed.

Roger Caiazza
Reply to  Duane
July 16, 2019 1:23 pm

Intermittency is still an issue. When New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act mandates electrification of winter heating the winter peak will become the problem. At New York’s latitude to say nothing of all the area downwind of the Great Lakes affected by lake-effect snow and clouds solar power will not be able to deal with home heating. But what about wind? Well when the huge intensely cold high pressure system that brings the coldest temperatures sets in the wind resource goes very low too. That is a fact on-shore and I cannot believe that off-shore winds would not be similarly affected

Reply to  Roger Caiazza
July 16, 2019 2:24 pm

Very few people in New York/New England use electricity for heat. It’s too expensive compared to alternatives.

Dave Fair
Reply to  WBWilson
July 16, 2019 8:03 pm

If one cannot hook up to natural gas and oil is out, what will winter heaters use? Unintended consequences, anyone?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 16, 2019 9:28 pm

Intended consequences.
Obama “My plan would mean electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.”

Not a bug. A feature. … a feature to enrich the GreenSlimers at the expense of the middle class.

Greg F
Reply to  Duane
July 16, 2019 1:36 pm

Also, it should be noted that intermittency is not nearly the issue with solar power as it is with wind power, since peak demand for electrical power always is a daytime affair, not at night when the sun doesn’t shine.

Peak demand is late afternoon to early evening. Generally 4:00 to 8:00. Solar is greatly diminished to non existent during those hours.

Reply to  Greg F
July 16, 2019 4:32 pm

In the winter, peak demand is often in the middle of the night.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Greg F
July 19, 2019 9:02 pm

That’s exactly why the want to pair a 4-hr battery.

Reply to  Duane
July 16, 2019 2:07 pm

Duane do you run your own household on solar and battery?

Costs keep falling. Seems like you have stumbled upon an end around of the grid?

Reply to  Derg
July 16, 2019 4:32 pm

It’s amazing how cheap stuff gets when someone else is paying for it.

Reply to  Duane
July 16, 2019 4:30 pm

So the fact that millions of these batteries have been built doesn’t matter, because only a small number of them have been put into utility grade backup systems. Really? Is that the nonsense you are being paid to distribute today?

The fact that solar produces no power at all at night is not a problem since peak demand is during the day?
I guess in your world, nobody uses power at night.
BTW, even small clouds have a big impact on how much power a solar field can produce.

Dave Fair
July 16, 2019 11:49 am

I didn’t see a calculation of the cost of the energy required to charge the batteries. O&M? Component failure rates? Economic lives? Replacement costs? Costs of FF, nuclear or large hydro support?

Bryan A
Reply to  Dave Fair
July 16, 2019 12:46 pm

I believe that is likely supposed to come from the unsold over limit power produced during Peak Sun Times.
LA’s plans are to have a solar generator that produces more than what they sell to the public directly at peak times and dump the surplus into their batteries. Lets just hope they can get that extra power produced or their batteries will sit uncharged (unless they are recharged by Grid Power)

Joe - the non engineer
July 16, 2019 12:00 pm

Someone with engineering expertise

doesnt heat and cold have drastic effects on batterylife and performance?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Joe - the non engineer
July 16, 2019 8:10 pm

Hey! I’m a policy expert; don’t bring in con-founders.

July 16, 2019 12:08 pm

Roger a couple of questions:

(1) what range of latitudes did you use?

(2) Did you account for the 3 to 4 times variation in solar generation between summer and winter in CAPEX and generation assumptions?

(3) did you include or exclude the 33% cash back on CAPEX received by ITC on solar+storage?

(4) did you account for the 1% (+/-) per annum drop-off in capacity factor of solar panels?

(4) so what % of each installed kw solar is “dispatchable” in your model?

Dave Fair
Reply to  Ben
July 16, 2019 8:08 pm

Solar is not dispatchable. It either is or isn’t. No dispatcher behind a console can control that.

Roger Caiazza
Reply to  Ben
July 17, 2019 5:39 am

I did not do the analysis. The National Renewable Energy Lab did it so please look at their report. Be forewarned however that they were trying to make things look good for solar plus energy storage so inconvenient realism was glossed over.

Robert W Turner
July 16, 2019 12:09 pm

Lithium ion batteries are already an outdated choice for energy storage.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
July 16, 2019 1:22 pm

That is actually an older idea than lithium ion batteries, however, there are still problems with energy losses.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
July 16, 2019 4:34 pm

The problem is that you lose most of your energy when the hot air loses heat to the surrounding rocks.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
July 17, 2019 4:58 am

I can do you one better, using Hydrogen in an unconventional manner and achieving a 200x increase in energy yield per atom (vs simple combustion with Oxygen) … a prototype being tested in the lab (IOW, beyond the theoretical stage):

Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2019 7:12 am

Have you ever researched how hydogen is produced? Primarily from fossi fuel. So just what problem is that solving?

Reply to  jtom
July 17, 2019 8:21 am

Read my comment again, also paying particular attention to this part that was in parenthesis:

achieving a 200x increase in energy yield per atom (vs simple combustion with Oxygen).

What do you think this means?

Curious George
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2019 11:33 am

You are right, it means nothing as documented in your video.

Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2019 12:23 pm

Curious George July 17, 2019 at 11:33 am
You are right, it means nothing as documented in your video.

Non-sequitur; give more context, convey an entire idea or thought.

(The video was meant to show an implementation beyond just the idea stage, that is, beyond the theoretical or conceptual stage.)

PS. Consider adding to the discussion rather than just post and run?

Curious George
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2019 2:14 pm

Please re-check your video. What I see is just a lab. Anything could be happening there. It means absolutely nothing. You posted an amazing claim – and did not support it at all. George out.

Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2019 2:43 pm

Curious George commented on NREL Energy Storage System Cost Benchmark.

“Please re-check your video. What I see is just a lab. Anything could be happening there. It means absolutely nothing. You posted an amazing claim – and did not support it at all. George out.”

Well, why didn’t yous say you were unfamiliar with the subject material as introduced?

Why don’t we take it from the beginning, and from the horse’s mouth then, in one big bite, such that you may be either overwhelmed, or underwhelmed (as the case may be) and then we work ourselves out of that condition?

Recommended one-sitting viewing to come up to speed on this tech (ALTHOUGH I took a full year to perform due diligence):

“Dr. Mills Fresno State lecture” (skip ahead to 5:30 to see the lecture)

Reply to  jtom
July 17, 2019 9:01 am

Before we go much further, let me ask you, what determines the traditional, widely-known “ground state” of the electron in the Hydrogen atom?

I’ll offer a few stock answers to which you might refer: 1) IDK (IOW: “not my specialty”), 2) QM says so (I accept it on faith, because, you know, “QM”), 3) QM is sketchy on this, 4) I’ll have to get back to you on this.

July 16, 2019 12:10 pm

Of course these prices are only the initial expense as PV solar has a max lifespan of 25 years, at which time they only produce 20% to 25% of their original nameplate rating. So a properly designed system for any given home needs to be designed at between 3x to 4x (installed incrementally) the actual needed load so as PV cells mature and start to fail there is still electricity being generated.

This does NOT account for the far more expensive and frequent battery systems replacements. With lead acid battery technology, one can expect to replace batteries every 4 to 5 years, again designing the system with incremental installations and incremental replacements just to meet load demands. If the batteries are Li-Ion, the best technology on the market is the Tesla Wall II with a 10 year warranty and 75% capacity at the end of that warranty, with each panel costing $10K, and the typical home requiring 4 to 5 panels to make it through a long cold winter’s night, assuming they have an extremely efficient closed loop geothermal furnace/AC in an extremely efficient home.

I have posted (elsewhere) the cost associated with an off grid system (unless one lives like a hermit) and specifically left off tax credits or tax rebates because I believe it is wrong to expect others to pay for your virtue signalling, and the reasonable costs I came up with for a properly designed PV solar system has the initial cost (1st year) being in the neighborhood of $60K to $100K. These up front costs do NOT include replacing batteries every 4 to 5 years or every 10 years using Li-Ion and also do not include the necessary staggered replacement of PV solar cells every 25 years at full price + inflation added to the price of all consumables.

Call me greedy or whatever but I cannot fathom having to pay $400K to $500K for electricity to live comfortably in a 4 bedroom 3 bathroom house for 60 years, in a home that is super insulated, unlike most homes today. Instead, had the idiotic “free energy” and ‘clean energy” dolts not interfered with our existing electric generation over the past 15 years, compelling them to invest in asinine wind and solar generation, the price for that energy could have been $1,200 to $2,000 per month or $90K to $144,000 over that same 60 year period by purchasing electricity from the electric grid.

Furthermore, when there is a failure, and there will be occasional outages, knowing that there are teams of linemen and substation techs, willing to travel all across the country to repair bad outages in an incredibly efficient and safe manner, as opposed to if there is a mass scale outage due to storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice, etc., one could be waiting months upon months to get someone out to see what new equipment is available that will work with your existing system, then order what they think you may need, requiring another extended period of time because the odds that your local Home Depot or Big Box Store is going to carry or warehouse the products you need are slim to none.

Nah… As for me, I choose paying those big electric utilities for my life saving electricity. Everyone else who wants solar or wind should pony up, paying for their own including paying the constant upkeep on that system.

Adam Smith, author of the Wealth Of Nations, wrote about the lowered costs of specializing and being able to trade more efficiently as a result of that specialization, lowering the costs to everyone involved. Now if someone on here is going to start spewing the nonsense about grid scale backup, technology that doesn’t exist and certainly technology we could not afford… well that stops all conversation with a rational person like me because I am fully aware of what is involved to generate, transmit and distribute reliable electricity. I know what our grid requires, and I also know the harm caused by adding multiple 500MW wind farms which are unreliable, and therefore had to be backed up, MW for MW with natural gas turbine generation because it is the only generation we have that can be ramped up or down quick enough to match the unreliability of the wind generation my utility was compelled to install.

The thing we have is idiots who have never worked in the electric generation, transmission and distribution field attempting to pretend they understand the complex interconnected engineered systems and therefore attempting to force their beliefs and will upon a very specialized undertaking that already benefits everyone. I swear it is the intention of these idiots to bring down Western civilization as we know it.

John Adams
Reply to  KS_Referee
July 16, 2019 2:51 pm

Well said. Thank you.

Greg F
Reply to  KS_Referee
July 16, 2019 3:45 pm

Of course these prices are only the initial expense as PV solar has a max lifespan of 25 years, at which time they only produce 20% to 25% of their original nameplate rating.

Don’t know where you got this but panels typically degrade to a little more than 85% of their original rating after 20 years.

Reply to  Greg F
July 17, 2019 10:17 am

That’s an unknown at the moment at to what they will do. Sodium iron glass created PID (Potential Induced degradation) that was unanticipated in many panels. We’ve gotten by that one. But, it takes reversing the current in effect to repel the migration of the ions periodically to put it simply.
Have to replace the panels or tolerate the losses, or, you have higher O&M. SMA devised a product for this in the German solar field, which, would have a reduced effect from this due to lower voltages relative to newer higher voltage American field. Problem was unanticipated but very wide spread due to construction, and, accelerated life cycle testing missing it — if any was done.

Similarly, Oxygen Induced Degradation was not anticipated in panel construction when some manufactures did not anneal the glass correctly.

… …. … Nobody really knows until the future is no longer future but is actually the present.

The US Navy takes 25 years to qualify a new battery technology because of the catastrophic consequences of getting it wrong with accelerated life cycle testing. For instance, lead acid is accelerated tested 5 times a day in aqueous solution. But, their longitudinal history is well known other than new additions such as nano carbon… to anodes and cathodes.

It will be interesting to see what happens with lithium ion. But, dendrite formation, memory problems are hinted at in a lot of data. Bottom line, is, slower C rates charging and discharging lengthen battery life; but, that will require a larger battery to deliver the desired amount of power.

Gordon Dressler
July 16, 2019 12:19 pm

The above article discusses just installed systems costs for battery storage (including land for siting). What would be most significant would be the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) expected from such systems that would take into account, among many other important factors, the realistic life expectancy of the batteries (for Li-ion, dependent on number of discharge cycles and depth-of-discharge per cycle, and the annual costs of operation and maintenance).

Lance Flake
July 16, 2019 12:25 pm

Another factor never discussed with renewables+storage is that you have to have enough generation capacity for consumption at the same time as charging the storage for future consumption. Just providing the generation capability for use means the storage is useless.

Rud Istvan
July 16, 2019 12:31 pm

NREL is notoriously unreliable, to the point of intellectual dishonesty. We provided two concrete examples concerning wind in our Climate Etc guest post, True Cost of Wind.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 17, 2019 9:06 pm

However, we don’t need to recalculate. Even using their own numbers, which we know to be catastrophically in their favor, it’s multiple orders of magnitude away from being a decent choice. This is “check the couch for cushions to pay off the national debt” levels of effectiveness.

Nicholas Harding
July 16, 2019 12:32 pm

How does the retail rate compare at the factory meter/hookup? At the residential customer meter?

Is anyone writing a third party performance guaranty for this equipment and what is their credit rating?

July 16, 2019 1:08 pm

Theoretically the polysulfide bromide battery is the best option for long term storage. This is because the main cost is the “fuel cell” that handles the charging/discharging, capacity is just some cheap salts and simple tanks to store the solution in. If you want to store enough electricity for a day it should win easily.

Unfortunately nobody has managed to get one to work properly.

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  BillP
July 16, 2019 3:51 pm

That same pesky problem has delayed the development of the Star Trek transporter system.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Gordon Dressler
July 16, 2019 4:44 pm

Once we get that transporter beam working, we can forget about needing batteries.
We can just beam a little piece of the inside of the Sun into a turbine.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
July 16, 2019 10:06 pm

Sounds like a great idea, what could possibly go wrong?

Reply to  Gordon Dressler
July 17, 2019 4:11 am

Very humorous, but the difference is that polysulfide bromide batteries do operate.

It is just getting the engineering right so that they are cost effective and reliable. Very little work has been done on this, as far as I know only one grid scale system has been built, which at Little Barford in the UK.

July 16, 2019 1:24 pm

The whole problem here is that the extent of solar power deficiency is unlimited – the skies can go cloudy due to tropical storms, etc for weeks, not just the few hours of storage provided by the batteries. Then there is the issue of recharging those depleted batteries when the sun shines again and solar also has to power the grid and recharge the batteries. And it really doesn’t matter how often this scenario occurs – the backup power generation needs to be ready to go – this costs a lot of money, since there are substantial costs associated with maintaining backup systems, even if they are never needed. Batteries can only store energy, and limited amounts at that – they cannot function as backup power generators, able to provide power indefinitely. It is the renewable morons who have posited batteries as a solution for the deficiencies of their primitive power technologies

Dave Fair
Reply to  ColMosby
July 16, 2019 1:28 pm

None of the “analyses” include the cost of FF, nuclear and large hydro backup. Standalone PV+storage is not feasible at any scale.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  ColMosby
July 16, 2019 4:47 pm

The outright lying by these jackasses makes me really mad.
This is not the first we have seen on this topic this week.
They are just making crap up.
People that know nothing about supplying electricity are somehow now in charge of what we will have for power in the future.
Let’s hope a giant waste of money is the extent of the harm done.

Walt D.
July 16, 2019 1:28 pm

“Fools and their money are soon parted”.
Lock in the most expensive power for 40 years.

Tom Moriarty
July 16, 2019 1:47 pm

If I am reading the charts above correctly, then the cost of 360 MWh hour system ($77.90 million) is less than the cost of the 240 MWh system ($91.28 million). So something is wrong with the math.

Energy storage from the top line of the chart, cost from the bottom line of the chart…

Storage (MWh) Cost ($ million)
30 26.845
60 36.050
120 54.460
240 92.281

Put in a spreadsheet and fit to a line and get a perfect fit
Cost[$ million] = 0.3068 x Storage[MWh] + 17.64
R2 = 1.00000 (that is, a perfect fit)

So the 360 MWh and 480 MWh systems cost $128 million and $165 Million, respectively.

If you wanted the equivalent energy of a typical 1GW commercial nuclear reactor over 24 hours, then you would need 24,000 MWhrs of energy.
cost[$ million] = 0.3068 x 24,000 + 17.64 = $7,381 million

Why not just build a 1GW nuclear reactor and have 1GW for the next 50 years, instead of one day of storage.

Reply to  Tom Moriarty
July 16, 2019 2:02 pm

You’re making too much sense. The ONLY thing I can come up with is the people driving this nonsense seek to destroy Western Civilization as we know it.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom Moriarty
July 16, 2019 2:26 pm

Now there you go…Trying to make sense in a Crazy Society

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Tom Moriarty
July 16, 2019 2:58 pm

Now WHY on earth do you want to bring common sense to the discussion. I mean, REALLY… /sarc off

roger caiazza
Reply to  Tom Moriarty
July 16, 2019 5:01 pm

You found a mistake in the Li-ion battery costs. The total cost for an 8-hour duration battery is $100,320,000 not 50,160,00 and for a six hour duration battery the total cost is 75,240,000 not 25,080,000. As a result the total costs should be
Storage (MWh) Cost ($ million)
30 26.845
60 36.050
120 54.460
240 92.281
360 128.057
480 164.861

Thanks for catching the error

Tom Moriarty
Reply to  roger caiazza
July 16, 2019 11:17 pm

for the record, I am a senior scientist at NREL. No joke.

Retiring in 3 months, then I will be more free to make more comments at WUWT.


Reply to  Tom Moriarty
July 17, 2019 7:19 am

Tom it sounds like you’re under a gag order just like we were at the electric utility I retired from. Any public comment or professional opinion that didn’t come from our CEO, CFO, the legal department or the company’s communication director was specifically forbidden and was grounds for immediate termination. Even now, with them controlling a majority of my retirement, I am extremely careful with what I disclose. I was an electrical engineer in the Transmission Substation Protection and Controls Department.

What my company would never state publicly, even though all us engineers knew was our investment in multiple wind farms was only due to government mandates, tax breaks and guaranteed ROI via automatic and unregulated rate hikes. The top brass considered the nonsense to be good public relations. We, those who knew better understood it was pure stupidity and that it would just cost our customers (including me and my family) more via increases in our electric bill.

The cowardice of top brass to stand up to stupidity, choosing instead to cave to political correctness is mind numbing.

Dave Fair
Reply to  KS_Referee
July 17, 2019 9:02 am

KS_Referee, you are describing socialism; all must fall in line with the current ideology. The problem is that when ideology changes, the old practitioners’ heads are lopped off. Watch Pelosi and Biden in the woke generation.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  KS_Referee
July 17, 2019 9:06 am

The subsidies don’t drive the wind/solar fraud, the mandates do. Cost is irrelavent. IF all subsidies ended and the mandates stay in- place “top brass” will still be required by law to install worthless renewables plus storage. The problem is willfully uninformed voters. Regulators and utilities are “just following orders” from the public as expressed to their elected officials. “Give us free clean power or lose your job”. Ignorance is a powerful force.

Tom Moriarty
Reply to  KS_Referee
July 17, 2019 10:26 am

No gag order. Nothing explicit.

I’ve have simply learned that it is much safer to keep my mouth shut. The truth is, I am one of those cowards you were talking about.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Tom Moriarty
July 17, 2019 8:42 am

Tom, as a former DOE engineer/manager I know of your problem. Your fortitude in hanging in ’till retirement may or may not be admirable. I quit after 11 years. Screw the bean counters/socialists.

July 16, 2019 4:24 pm

We average 0.067$/Kwh here in the Upstate of South Cackalack.

Don’t need any batteries here, everything is just finer in Caroliner!

July 16, 2019 6:05 pm

And again, a great discussion on the costs of Battery storage. However, NO comments on the fact that ignored is need for and cost of the cooling of these batteries while charging and discharging these industrial size installations.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Usurbrain
July 16, 2019 8:06 pm

Mere details; let them eat cake.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Usurbrain
July 19, 2019 8:49 pm

The EOS Aurora battery has several test installs in progress. It is the only non-lithium battery being tested/evaluated by California,

– no air-conditioning required
– no fire-suppression equipment required
– 0.25 MW unit is the size of a shipping container, but they can be physically widely distributed across a large solar park.
– zinc-air design requires no special disposal handling
– about 25% cheaper per KWh than Tesla’s grid battery
– computer models and accelerated real-world testing show at least 5,000 cycle live, and possibly 10,000

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Usurbrain
July 19, 2019 8:50 pm

According to EOS, their zinc-air battery doesn’t require cooling:

July 16, 2019 7:42 pm

A well managed forest can produce at least 10kWh/sq.m/yr of stored energy. NY produces 65TWh annually using fossil fuels. At 50% conversion efficiency it would be possible to replace fossil fuel using wood from forests covering 10% of the state. The word offers durable storage that improves with age in a managed forest.

This would be a far lower cost option, using proven technology, than any hopium fuelled alternative relying on solar panels and battery storage that is yet to be developed. Installed battery cost of USD350/kWh remain a dream.

A solar panel in NY will provide about 150kWh/sq.m each year if unconstrained. When aiming for the lowest cost of dispatchable energy in combination with storage, the output will be constrained to at least one third. So it gets down to about 50kWh/sq.m. This would require 1% of the area of NY State to be covered in solar panels to get close to replacing existing fossil fuels used for power generation. I would be surprised if less than 100 hours of storage capacity would be needed to achieve dispatchable capacity at 99.9% reliability. That requires a battery capacity of 740GWh. Even at $350/kWh the storage will cost $260bn. Solar panels would be a similar cost.

Reply to  RickWill
July 17, 2019 5:03 am

re: “This would be a far lower cost option, using proven technology”

Straight-line extrapolation which does not take into consideration manpower/labor, transportation and additional infrastructure required to utilize said “energy source”.

Additionally, significant waste products are created as an end product, and this SL-approximation does not consider disposal costs. BTW, have you see what results from burning wood, I mean, the not-so-trace materials and compounds that result?

Reply to  RickWill
July 17, 2019 10:38 am

Multiply be the days of autonomy needed. Derate downtime for O%M. Derate for panel degradation. Derate for TSI versus consumption and charge profiles of the batteries… … … Remember batteries have losses due to ageing, charge and discharge profiles, and number of cycles.

You are on the right track but there are a host of exogenous variables. Numbers have to go way up.

July 17, 2019 7:07 am

The announcement does claim that 3,000 MW can “power 40% of New York’s homes”.

It should be noted that claims to power x amount of homes do not include the energy used to make things or provide services (such as internet servers) for those homes.

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  Canman (aka Mike Dombroski)
July 17, 2019 8:53 am

Or to charge EVs at homes using the grid.

July 17, 2019 10:59 am

battery size of a soccer field provides (provided??) approx 40mw power for anchorage alaska which (iirc in 2004 was 7 minutes) just enough time to start the diesel generators.
so lets pave over NYC make a big battery and power one other city for a few minutes.

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