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Data: U.S. Energy Storage Monitor report by Wood Mackenzie and the U.S. Energy Storage Association; Chart: Axios Visuals

America deployed a record amount of energy storage in the third quarter of 2020, increasing 240% over the previous high set last quarter, a new report says.

Why it matters: Storing electricity to back up wind and solar is key to ensuring increases in these variable energy sources goes smoothly. That upsurge is a central part of combating climate change.

Driving the news: New battery storage installments in the third quarter reached a record 476 megawatts, according to a report released Wednesday by consulting firm Wood Mackenzie and the U.S. Energy Storage Association.

What they’re saying: “These eye-catching deployment totals represent only the beginning of a long-anticipated scale up for the U.S. storage market,” said Dan Finn-Foley, Wood Mackenzie’s lead energy storage expert. “Considering the scale of systems anticipated for 2021 we do not expect this record, as remarkable as it is, to stand for long.”

How it works: Continual price declines in batteries and government policies supporting such deployment are behind the big rise, which would have been even bigger had it not been for the pandemic.

  • Most energy storage, and the majority of the increase, is coming from large-scale systems installed directly onto the electricity grid (as opposed to, say, a 5-kilowatt Tesla Powerwall that individuals can install in their homes).
  • For context, 476 megawatts, when deployed, equals about 95,000 of those Tesla Powerwalls.

Go deeper: As wind and solar increase, so do their challenges

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 26, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The rise of corporate renewables

Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Companies worldwide are buying more renewable power than ever, and now some of the biggest U.S. corporations say the Biden administration can help decarbonize the nation's power more quickly.

Why it matters: Corporate procurement of renewables — especially wind and solar — is becoming an important deployment driver as companies take advantage of lower prices and look to meet sustainability pledges.

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the need for the U.S. to confront China's aggression. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.