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Cheap batteries coupled with wind or solar power will soon compete head-to-head with coal-fired and nuclear plants.

Solar farms with about four hours of storage capacity will be able to sell power for about 3.5 cents within a few years, said Jim Robo, chief executive officer of NextEra Energy Inc., the world’s largest generator of power from wind and sunshine. Wind paired with batteries will be even cheaper, at about 2.5 cents.

Battery Boom: Growing investments in energy storage will drive the growth of wind, solar

The shift comes as battery prices are expected to slide 67 percent by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Advocates of coal, natural gas and nuclear power often cite the intermittent power from wind and solar farms as a barrier to wider use of clean energy. Cost-effective storage counters that argument and will become a “disruptive” force in the utility industry, Robo said Tuesday at the JPMorgan Chase & Co. 2018 Energy Conference in New York.

“That’s lower than the operating costs of existing coal and nuclear,” Robo said. “That’s a fact that most of the rest of the industry hasn’t come to grips with yet.”

— With assistance by Mark Chediak