Environmental Impacts of Utility-Scale Battery Storage in California
Anu Balakrishnan1, Eddie Brutsch1, Alex Jamis1, Whitney Reyes1, Maddy Strutner1, Parikhit Sinha2,3, Roland Geyer1
1University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
/2First Solar, Tempe, AZ, United States
/3IEA PVPS Task 12, St. Ursen, Switzerland

Battery storage is an emerging solution to increase renewable penetration to the grid by using surplus daytime solar generation to meet evening peak electricity demand, thereby reducing solar curtailment and the need for ramping of natural gas marginal generation. Based on life cycle environmental impact assessment, utility-scale Li-ion battery storage has significantly lower impacts than natural gas power in four out of six environmental impact categories assessed (climate change, fine particulate matter, photochemical ozone formation, and terrestrial acidification). Implementing utility-scale battery storage through 2030 can reduce CO2e emissions from California’s electricity sector by 8 percent (15.5 million tonnes CO2e on a life cycle basis) compared to exclusively using natural gas power to back up solar. Therefore, utility-scale battery storage has the potential to reduce the climate change and air pollution impact of California’s electricity sector, while increasing solar electricity grid penetration through improved grid flexibility.