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Photo: Hendrik Schmidt/picture alliance/Getty Images

U.S. energy storage installations grew by a record amount last quarter, per new data from Wood Mackenzie and the U.S. Energy Storage Association.

Why it matters: Battery storage helps integrate more renewables onto power grids and, in some applications, provide backup power for buildings during outages.

The big picture: Installations totaled 186.4 megawatts in the fourth quarter and 523 for the full year, also a record.

  • For 2019 as a whole, California led the market for residential and non-residential buildings, while Massachusetts saw the most "front of the meter" deployments — basically systems used on the power grid.

The intrigue: The big power shutoffs to cut wildfire risk in California are beginning to boost the storage market, the analysis shows.

  • “California continues to be a market to watch and we expect almost one in four residential solar systems across the state to have storage attached in 2020," Wood Mackenzie analyst Brett Simon said in a statement.
  • "This is due to multiple factors, including the Self-Generation Incentive Program, opportunities from time-of-use rates, continued desire for resilience in the wake of PSPS events and even some upside from the new home solar mandate."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the Wood Mackenzie analyst who discussed California's storage market was Brett Simon (not Simon Flowers).

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.