Rural Electric Industry Report Predicts Lower Cost for Battery Storage Systems

Randy Sukow


In recent years, NRTC and storage technology partner ENGIE have worked with electric cooperatives to build battery energy storage systems (BESS) for applications including demand response and integration with community solar facilities. The good news according to a new report, “Battery Energy Storage Overview,” is that the cost of battery technology is dropping steadily and that rural electric cooperatives will benefit.

“BESS presents co-ops with an opportunity to improve system efficiency, reduce costs, improve reliability and resilience, and provide members with new services,” concludes the report that NRTC sponsored along with NRECA, CFC and CoBank. “As BESS continues to evolve and improve, co-ops will be in a strong position to take advantage of the technology, given co-ops’ strong ties to the community, flexible business model and innovative spirit.”

A major factor in lowering costs has been increased use of lithium-ion batteries creating economies of scale for large battery systems. Growth in electric vehicle popularity has been a contributor to manufacturing “battery modules,” which combine many Li-ion cells in one device. The cost of battery modules in terms of dollars per kilowatt hour has dropped 89 percent over the past 10 years. (See chart.)

The report also refers to an estimate that the “levelized cost of storage” – the break-even point for discharged stored energy – was more than $180 per megawatt hour in 2016. That cost has dropped to an estimated $130 per MWh in 2020 and is expected to drop below $100 per MWh by 2027 or 2028.

The report sponsors have scheduled a webinar, Batteries: The Future Implications of Energy Storage, to cover BESS technology and offer details of the report’s findings. NRTC’s Brad Seibert will participate in the event, which begins at 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, June 30.

The battery webinar is one in series of three online events in coming weeks. A June 23 webinar will look at the future of commercial electric vehicles and a July 7 event will cover the latest in analytics using AMI data. NRTC members can register for all three here.

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