Globally and Locally, California Energizes Energy Storage Market Posted on Nov 25, 2020
Linda F. Hersey Senior Contributor*
The U.S. clean tech sector is on pace in 2020 to regain its status as the world’s largest energy storage market. California, which has surpassed a half-million jobs in the clean tech economy, leads the nation in solar installations coupled with battery storage systems.
State and federal policies that advance clean technology, declining battery prices and better technology help to drive growth, with revenues projected to grow from $2 billion this year to $12 billion by 2025.
Not only is the state encouraging major battery storage projects, such as San Diego County’s Gateway project (touted as the largest of its kind in the world), California is “on the verge of a breakthrough in sales” of residential energy storage units, according to Bloomberg News. Home energy system sales may quadruple by the end of the year, and are projected to grow at a faster clip in 2021.
Government Policies Encourage Growth
“We want to accelerate a trend you are seeing around the rest of the world,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on All Things Considered. “And that primarily will be through battery storage technology, which is really taking shape, which for us will be a game changer, and we think for this nation, as it relates to our transition to renewable power.”
- California has adopted aggressive clean energy policies that have included a 2020 mandate for all new home construction to include photovoltaic(PV) systems as an electricity source. One in five new residential solar installations was paired with battery storage in 2020.
- Newsom imposed a second green energy mandate in September 2020 that restricts new car sales in the state to electric vehicles by 2035. Most EV owners power their cars and light trucks at home overnight. Connecting residential battery storage to renewable power, rather than using fossil fuel, is a sensible next step. That has been the practice in some European countries, with consumers investing in solar storage systems to power their homes and vehicles.
California, which has the fifth-largest global economy, “can quickly shape policy nationwide,” wrote Alissa Walker in Curbed magazine about the gas-powered vehicle sales ban that Newsom implemented through executive order.
The California experience underscores the supportive policies and regulations that state economies and the U.S. need to transform clean energy into an “economic powerhouse,” according to E2, a national nonpartisan group of business leaders and investors who support clean technology.
California’s clean energy initiatives align with the $1.7 trillion climate change action plan that was the centerpiece of the Biden campaign, which is a departure from the state’s recent experience with the Trump administration.
The EPA, under Trump, rebuked Newsom for imposing vehicle emission rules that exceed national standards. Under Trump, California faced expensive federal lawsuits over its clean energy mandates, as the President’s agenda focused on increasing fossil fuel production.
That’s all about to change.
Under Biden, California’s court challenges are expected to be replaced by an unprecedented era of green diplomacy initiated by John Kerry, the newly appointed energy czar of the incoming administration.
Biden has pledged to invigorate the clean energy sector with millions of new jobs and build out the green transportation infrastructure. Biden’s goal is to achieve a net zero economy by 2050 and re-develop auto manufacturing around electric vehicles.
Kerry is overseeing the $1.7 trillion program, which calls for a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, and for all new government transit buses and vehicles to be electric.
Battery Storage Companies Educate Consumers
Battery storage systems that use renewable energy have emerged as an efficient solution for consumers powering their electric vehicles and energizing entire homes.
The transition from acid to lithium-ion batteries has helped propel sales due to being fast-chargers with long life spans that do not take up a lot of space. Pack-and-play solar storage systems are also experiencing broad appeal by allowing consumers without any technical background to manage home energy use like their own private power plants.
As the clean-tech industry matures, solar storage companies are becoming more sophisticated at showing consumers the benefits of renewable home energy systems that include resiliency during rolling blackouts and natural disasters, such as the recent wildfires in California and hurricanes that threatened the Gulf Coast.
California Energy Storage Companies Drive Marketplace
Wall Street is seeing green, with many new residential energy storage systems coming on the market. Three of the most active publicly traded companies in home energy storage are based in California:
- NeoVolta of San Diego recently expanded its sales and distribution network in southern and northern California. The company doubled production in 2020, and is experiencing dramatic growth. Revenues for the third quarter topped $1 million, compared to a little more than $300,000 for the same quarter last year.
- Tesla offers the popular Powerwall home battery system that allows users to store energy from the grid or from solar panels. Tesla reports a waiting list for new residential energy storage installations that extends into 2021.
- SunPower, the elder in the group, has been installing residential solar systems for 35 years. The company introduced solar-powered battery storage that integrates with its solar panels.
*Opinions expressed by CleanTech Docs Contributors are their own.