California mandates batteries or other non-fossil over gas

Mark Chediak writes in Bloomberg:

A New Era of Batteries Spells Trouble for Gas in America

California, the state that helped birth the global boom in battery-toting electric vehicles, is trying to spark a similar transformation for utilities. And that spells trouble for power plants all across the U.S. that run on natural gas. 

The California Public Utilities Commission approved an order Thursday that will require PG&E Corp., the state’s biggest utility, to change the way it supplies power when demand peaks. Instead of relying on electricity from three gas-fired plants run by Calpine Corp., PG&E will have to use batteries or other non-fossil fuel resources to keep the lights on in the most-populated U.S. state.

While natural gas became the biggest source of power in the U.S. two years ago — it burns cleaner and more cheaply than coal — regulators are looking to reduce carbon emissions to combat global warming and climate change. Gas now accounts for about a third of the country’s electricity, but renewables like solar and wind are expanding faster, doubling their share of the market over the past decade to a projected 17 percent last year, government data show.

The article covers the gas/solar/battery situation in California with some interesting facts on the market now and in the future:

Batteries may be everywhere in today’s appliances, but the scale of electricity distribution on vast utility networks still makes using power storage costly. That’s changing with the development of bigger, more efficient units that can carry a charge longer, especially in the kinds of electric vehicles manufactured by the likes of Tesla Inc.

Since 2010, Bloomberg New Energy Finance data show, the price of lithium-ion battery packs have fallen 79 percent.

Read the full article at Bloomberg
Follow Mark Chediak on twitter
Photo: EDF Renewable Energy

For an additional take on this, you may also want to read: Natural gas is energy’s new king — but how long will it reign? California may offer some clues in the San Diego Union-Tribune

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