How much wind and solar are needed to realize emissions benefits from storage?


Environmental outcomes from energy storage depend on its usage patterns, the existing generation fleet, and fossil fuel prices. This work models the deployment of large, non-marginal quantities of energy storage and wind and solar power to determine their combined effects on grid system emissions. Two different grid environments are analyzed: a coal-heavy grid (Midcontinent ISO) and non-coal grid (New York ISO). An iterative dispatch model is used that operates storage to maximize income, considering that this operation can influence wholesale energy prices. With current low natural gas prices ($2.6 per MMBtu), adding storage slightly reduces carbon emissions in New York, while increasing them in the Midcontinent ISO (MISO). Storage increases carbon emissions when it enables a high emissions generator, such as a coal plant, to substitute for a cleaner plant, such as natural gas. We estimate that adding storage operated to maximize revenue in the MISO region will not be carbon neutral until wind or solar power reach around 18% of the generation capacity. Different operation patterns for storage could realize higher carbon reductions. For example, a carbon price on emissions from generators would shift operation to make energy storage carbon neutral even with current wind and solar capacities. Sensitivity analysis shows that a higher natural gas price ($5 per MMBtu) yields much higher storage-induced carbon emissions in both NYISO and MISO and storage in MISO will not be carbon neutral unless 35% of total generation capacity is from wind/solar. This illustrates that low cost, efficient natural gas generation is important to realize emissions reductions with storage under economic arbitrage.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12


  1. 1.

    Other fuels include waste heat, unknown, or purchased according to e Grid database.


  1. 1.

    US Energy Information Administration (EIA): Annual Energy Outlook 2016, with projections to 2040. US Department of Energy (DOE). p. 0383. (2016). Accessed 1 Oct 2017

  2. 2.

    Denholm, P., Hand, M.: Grid flexibility and storage required to achieve very high penetration of variable renewable electricity. Energy Policy 39, 1817–1830 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Georgilakis, P.S.: Technical challenges associated with the integration of wind power into power systems. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 12, 852–863 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Senator Guzzone: Income Tax Credit—Energy Storage Systems, Maryland Government Bill. SB0758. (2017). Accessed 1 July 2017

  5. 5.

    California Energy Commission: energy storage system procurement targets from publicly owned utilities. Assembly Bill (AB) 2514, Chapter 469, Statutes of 2010. (2010). Accessed 23 Aug 2016

  6. 6.

    California ISO: advancing and maximizing the value of energy storage technology. California ISO. (2014)

  7. 7.

    Sandia National Laboratories, and strategen consulting: DOE global energy database. US Department of Energy. (2017). Accessed 12 Nov 2016

  8. 8.

    Arbabzadeh, M., Johnson, J.X., Keoleian, G.A., Rasmussen, P.G., Thompson, L.T.: Twelve principles for green energy storage in grid applications. Environ. Sci. Technol. 50, 1046–1055 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Lin, Y., Johnson, J.X., Mathieu, J.L.: Emissions impacts of using energy storage for power system reserves. Appl. Energy 168, 444–456 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Hittinger, E.S., Azevedo, I.M.L.: Bulk energy storage increases united states electricity system emissions. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 3203–3210 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Siler-Evans, K., Azevedo, I.L., Morgan, M.G.: Marginal emissions factors for the US electricity system. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46, 4742–4748 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Sioshansi, R., Denholm, P., Jenkin, T., Weiss, J.: Estimating the value of electricity storage in PJM: arbitrage and some welfare effects. Energy Econ. 31, 269–277 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Das, T., Krishnan, V., McCalley, J.D.: Assessing the benefits and economics of bulk energy storage technologies in the power grid. Appl. Energy 139, 104–118 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Rastler, D.: Midwest independent transmission system operator (MISO) energy storage study. Energy Policy Research Institute. Product Id: 1024489. (2012). Accessed 12 Dec 2016

  15. 15.

    NYISO: Power trends 2016: the changing energy landscape, New York ISO. (2016). Accessed 9 May 2017

  16. 16.

    US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).: Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGrid), US EPA (2014), (accessed on 3- Apr 2017)

  17. 17.

    US Environmental Protection Agency EPA.: Summary of the Energy Policy Act. EPA. 42 USC §13201 et seq. (2005). Accessed 10 Feb 2017

  18. 18.

    MATLAB R2016b. The MathWorks Inc., Natick, Massachusetts, United States (2016)

  19. 19.

    MISO: Historical Regional Forecast and Actual Load-Summary, Market Reports. MISO. (2015). Accessed 18 June 2016

  20. 20.

    NYISO: Integrated Real-Time Load Data, NYSO. (2015). Accessed 18 June 2016

  21. 21.

    US Energy Information Administration (EIA): cost and performance characteristics of new generating technologies, Annual Energy Outlook 2017. EIA. (2017). Accessed 10 Aug 2017

  22. 22.

    US Energy Information Administration (EIA): power plant operations report. EIA-923 form. (2016). Accessed 23 Jan 2017

  23. 23.

    Uranium Information Center: the economics of nuclear power. World Nuclear Association. (2000). Accessed 11 Sept 2017

  24. 24.

    US Energy Information Administration (EIA): domestic crude oil first purchase prices by area, EIA. (2017). Accessed 8 Aug 2017

  25. 25.

    GE Energy, Intertek AIM, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): cost-benefit analysis of flexibility retrofits for coal and gas-fueled power plants, NREL. SR-6A20-60862. (2013). Accessed 28 May 2017

  26. 26.

    Macmillan, S., Antonyuk, A., Hannah, S.: Gas to coal competition in the US power sector. IEA (2013)

  27. 27.

    Matek, B., Gawell, K.: The benefits of baseload renewables: a misunderstood energy technology. Electr. J. 28, 101–112 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Draxl, C., Clifton, A., Hodge, B.-M., McCaa, J.: The wind integration national dataset (WIND) toolkit. Appl. Energy 151, 355–366 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): solar power data for integration studies. NREL. (2006). Accessed 20 April 2017

  30. 30.

    Kalam, A., King, A., Moret, E., Weerasinghe, U.: Combined heat and power systems: economic and policy barriers to growth. Chem. Cent. J. 6, S3 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Rui, Li, Laijun, Chen, Bo, Zhao, Wei, Wei, Feng, Liu, Xiaodai, Xue, Shengwei, Mei, Tiejiang, Yuan: Economic dispatch of an integrated heat-power energy distribution system with a concentrating solar power energy hub. J. Energy Eng. 143, 4017046 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Lueken, R., Apt, J.: The effects of bulk electricity storage on the PJM market. Energy Syst. 5, 677–704 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    McConnell, D., Forcey, T., Sandiford, M.: Estimating the value of electricity storage in an energy-only wholesale market. Appl. Energy 159, 422–432 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Bradbury, K., Pratson, L., Patiño-Echeverri, D.: Economic viability of energy storage systems based on price arbitrage potential in real-time US electricity markets. Appl. Energy 114, 512–519 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).: eGRID2014 technical support document, US Environmental Protection Agency. (2014). Accessed 3 Apr 2017

  36. 36.

    Tom Falin: MISO Wind Capacity Credit Calculation. MISO. (2016). Accessed 22 Dec 2016

  37. 37.

    US EPA.: The Social Cost of Carbon, Environmental Protection Agency. (2016)

  38. 38.

    US EIA: Electric Power Annual 2015. EIA. (2016). Accessed 8 May 2016

  39. 39.

    US Energy Information Administration (EIA): Annual Energy Outlook 2016, with projections to 2040. US Department of Energy, p. 0383 (2016)

  40. 40.

    MISO: Wind Forecasting Review, MISO. (2015). Accessed 11 Jan 2016

  41. 41.

    Hittinger, E., Lueken, R.: Is inexpensive natural gas hindering the grid energy storage industry? Energy Policy 87, 140–152 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the Civil Infrastructure Systems program of the National Science Foundation (Grant# CMMI 1436469).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Naga Srujana Goteti.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (docx 987 KB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Goteti, N.S., Hittinger, E. & Williams, E. How much wind and solar are needed to realize emissions benefits from storage?. Energy Syst 10, 437–459 (2019).

Download citation


  • Energy storage
  • Electricity grid
  • Emissions
  • Energy policy
  • Renewable energy
  • De-carbonize
  • Wind
  • Solar