- The US installed more battery storage in 2020 than between 2013 and 2019, says a new study.
- Representative Deb Haaland’s nomination for US Secretary of the Interior heads to the full Senate.
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US energy storage boom
The US is seeing rapid and sudden growth of energy storage, according to the new “US Energy Storage Monitor” report by energy research firm Wood Mackenzie and the US Energy Storage Association.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, 2,156 megawatt-hours (MWh) of new energy storage systems were brought online. This is an increase of 182% from the third quarter of 2020, making the fourth quarter the new record quarter for US energy storage.
Front-of-the-meter (FTM) projects – that is, energy storage not at residential property, such as utility, power transmission lines, and remote energy storage systems – drove the growth. Four out of every five megawatts deployed in fourth quarter 2020 were FTM (that’s 529 MW out of the total 651 MW), and most of it took place in California.
Residential storage saw 90.1 MW installed, again, mostly in California. This is due to a response to the wildfires, generous state government rebates, and cheaper batteries overall.
The study predicts that the US will add five times more megawatts of energy storage in 2025 than was added in 2020, with FTM storage continuing to contribute between 75% to 85% of new megawatts each year.
Chloe Holden, Wood Mackenzie research analyst, said:
[T]he ability of solar-plus-storage to provide backup is increasingly driving sales even in markets without additional incentives, particularly states that suffer from regular power outages. We expect an uptick in home battery sales in Texas in the aftermath of February’s devastating outages.
Haaland nomination heads to Senate
Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM), US President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior, was approved yesterday in an 11-9 vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Her nomination will now be sent to the full Senate. She is expected to be confirmed, as Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has said she will vote for Haaland, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who voted for her on the Committee, is expected to cast her vote again for her. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a moderate Democrat who comes from a fossil fuel state, has also confirmed that he would vote for Haaland.
She will be the first Native American in this position should she be confirmed. Haaland had a contentious hearing, with senators who support the fossil-fuel industry grilling her over her views on that subject. She replied to Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), who was quite combative during the hearing and ultimately voted no:
We need to care as much about the environment as we do about the fossil fuel infrastructure in your states and other states, we need to balance those priorities.
Sometimes it might seem like a tricky balancing act, but I feel very strongly that if we have a mind to protect our public lands for future generations, that we’ll also be able to protect jobs for future generations, as well.
On the other hand, many groups are elated about the prospect of Haaland being the interior secretary. I received a number of statements of support by email.
Nikki Pitre, executive director of the Center for Native American Youth, said:
Native youth look to Representative Haaland as a role model, as a fierce defender of their rights and their communities, and as the living representation of the future of Indigenous communities in this country. We urge the full Senate to promptly confirm Representative Haaland as the secretary of the interior. She will be a fierce advocate for all of us, in a way that no one else can.
Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, which is made up of current and former National Park employees, said:
We need to restore the operating budget of the National Park Service and fill all the vacant positions that exist, including the director of the National Park Service. And our National Park System must better represent our nation’s diverse people, places, and stories. Environmental protections must be restored, and our country needs to seriously address the threat of climate change.
We need a leader who will put our irreplaceable resources first. We need someone like Deb Haaland running the Department of the Interior and we urge the Senate to confirm her as soon as possible.
Robert Weissman, president of nonprofit, progressive consumer rights advocacy group and think tank Public Citizen, said:
Haaland’s confirmation would be historic move, as she will be the first Native American to hold a cabinet post. This change is not only of symbolic importance, it means that tribes and local communities will finally have a voice at the table, rather than just energy and mining industries.
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