To decarbonize the economy, many governments have set targets for the use of renewable energy sources. These are often formulated as relative shares of electricity demand or supply. Implementing respective constraints in energy models is a surprisingly delicate issue. They may cause a modeling artifact of excessive electricity storage use. We introduce this phenomenon as “unintended storage cycling”, which can be detected in case of simultaneous storage charging and discharging. In this paper, we provide an analytical representation of different approaches for implementing minimum renewable share constraints in energy models, and show how these may lead to unintended storage cycling. Using a parsimonious optimization model, we quantify related distortions of optimal dispatch and investment decisions as well as market prices, and identify important drivers of the phenomenon. Finally, we provide recommendations on how to avoid the distorting effects of unintended storage cycling in energy modeling.