New energy storage technologies represent a “tipping point” for the wind and solar power generation sector, according to Bill Gross, founder and chairman of Idealab, a California-based venture capital firm.

According to a report published on S&P Global Market Intelligence, the emergence of lithium-ion batteries and other new energy storage technologies could provide the push required to transform renewables into the world’s largest source of power generation.

“Storage is really everything. It will change everything if we dramatically ramp up the amount of storage that we have,” said Gross. He said that the renewable energy industry has undergone rapid growth in recent years, primarily due to falling development costs. In many cases, renewable energy projects are cheaper to develop and commission than non-renewable projects.

Until energy storage advances, however, the variability of wind and solar power will limit its further ascent, Gross said. “It can’t replace baseload [power generation]. It can’t replace a gas power plant yet.”

Meanwhile, Barbara Lockwood, vice president of regulation for Pinnacle West Capital, said: “As a utility, we look at tried-and-true technology, and that’s what we deploy for reliability purposes. Having said that, batteries are an amazing technology … They very much are going to be part of the future.”

This article is taken from the Capital Projects and Contracts newsletter.