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by Julian Spector
February 20, 2020

When a group of serious academics takes aim at a promising new energy storage policy, it's our job to pay attention. 

That's what happened recently, as a piece of research concluded that the Clean Peak standard enacted by Massachusetts will do little to reduce carbon emissions from energy storage operations, especially compared to a price on carbon. The findings deal a potential blow to the policy, which has "clean" right there in the name. 

But that blow shouldn't be fatal. For one thing, the researchers agree that storage has a role to play in a cleaner grid, and they offer suggestions for improving the emissions impact of the policy. Furthermore, as I noted in this news story, the critique picks a specific metric — emissions from a battery plant — that is just one of the goals the policy was meant to serve.

This is no idle debate, seeing as the policy is in effect in the major market of Massachusetts and has been discussed in several other states to boot. It made a pivotal intellectual contribution to clean energy policy by moving the conversation from how to add cheap, bulk renewables to how to deal with the hours that drive the greatest cost and a lot of emissions, too.

This week in Storage Plus, we're digging deep on the theory underpinning the Clean Peak and its critique, and parsing the more and less effective claims against it. If you're interested in how state policies should be fostering energy storage expansion, or just enjoy a good clean energy policy smackdown (it's been a while since the great 100 percent renewables vs. 100 percent clean energy debate simmered down), this one's for you.