Peaker plants operate when there is peak demand for electricity and deliver it instantly. Unlike base load power plants, they do not run continually. Peaker plants used to be mostly powered by natural gas. However that is changing fast. Solar power peakers with battery backup are now delivering power more cost-effectively cheaper than natural gas.
This is a worldwide trend and is irreversible. Solar and wind plants are now produce power cheaper than coal and natural gas. These costs are going to keep dropping, especially when battery storage is used. Long-term, coal and natural gas are dead.
8minutenergy (that’s how long it takes energy from the sun to reach the earth) has multiple sites with grid-scale solar with battery backup, mostly in California. Their cost for a new solar / battery site is now much less than natural gas.
“I can beat a gas peaker anywhere in the country today with a solar-plus-storage power plant,” says Tom Buttgenbach, CEO of developer 8minutenergy Renewables. “Who in their right mind today would build a new gas peaker? We are a factor of two cheaper.”
There is so much demand for batteries from solar sites that hybrid and EV automakers are having to compete to get them.
“When you see projects now being planned at over 1 GWh in scale, when only 18 months ago a 300 MWh installation was something to behold, you know you have entered a new era,” says Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.. “It has been quite interesting to watch the battery makers’ dilemma of where to send the lithium ion cells. Of course they have contracts to honor with automotive producers, but the order inquiries from [energy storage] producers have been incredible.”