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California Doomed to Frequent Blackout Risk by Battery Shortage

The state’s electric grid operator said it needs to buy 12 gigawatts of battery storage. That’s a whole lot more than it has right now.

Power lines in Crockett, California, on Aug. 17. A massive heatwave triggered rolling blackouts across the state last weekend. Electricity may have to be cut again Wednesday.

Power lines in Crockett, California, on Aug. 17. A massive heatwave triggered rolling blackouts across the state last weekend. Electricity may have to be cut again Wednesday.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
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As the threat of blackouts continues to plague California, officials are pointing to battery storage as a key to preventing future power shortfalls. But the Golden State is going to need a lot more batteries to weather the next climate-driven crisis—let alone to achieve its goal of a carbon-free grid.

It won’t be cheap, potentially costing close to $19 billion. But more critically, there aren’t enough of these massive batteries to go around right now.