Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Southern California Edison announced that it will begin construction of a total of 770 megawatts of battery storage across seven separate contracts – a lot of storage. California has subsequently helped both its overall energy needs and its renewable energy efforts.
Southern California Edison said that it will work with several developers to build seven different lithium-ion battery storage projects across the region. According to Bloomberg NEF, 770 MW is over double all of the battery storage projects commissioned in the entire country the last year; it is enough to power a small city. In fact, the batteries will all use four-hour systems, meaning that they can run at their rated capacity (770 MW) for four hours.
What makes this endeavor more impressive is that the estimated completion is August 2021, a fast timetable particularly considering the size of the projects. Even more, most of the systems will be placed next to solar arrays.
This is an important part of the renewable energy process because battery storage plus renewable energy will function much the same as a traditional power plant. Grid operators would be able to regulate the flow of electricity, dispatching the electricity to high demand areas at peak times. This provides a better economic state for renewable energy because it allows solar panels or wind turbines (or others) to store energy they produce during times of low-electricity prices and then sell the stored energy for more a few hours later when the demand rises.
Furthermore, battery storage astronomically reduces the impact of the inconsistency of renewable energy. Battery storage will allow clean plants to continue to function when the sun is not shining completely or the wind is not very strong. In fact, part of the reason that this project is happening now is in response to concerns raised by the California Public Utilities Commission about the intermittency of renewable energy, particularly because California is rushing to be a top clean energy economy. Battery storage is a way for utilities to manage the challenges and still provide for a green future.
The utility accepted four separate developers for the seven projects: NextEra Energy Resources, Pacific Gas & Electric, TerraGen Power, and LS Power.
NextEra Energy Resources has three out of the seven commissions, and it is responsible for building three systems in Blythe: McCoy (230 MW), and Blythe 2 and Blythe 3, each storing 115 MW. The McCoy storage system will be placed next to the already-existing McCoy solar farm, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between renewable energy and battery storage discussed earlier. The other four plants have less capacity than the Blythe/McCoy plants, but it is still a large capacity. However, the specifics, including the costs, are not being made public.
Battery Storage Industry
For some perspective, the central Californian Moss Landing project will be online at the end of this year, and its 300 MW will be the largest in the world. And in late 2021, the Floridian Manatee Energy Storage Center's 409 MW will make it the world's largest.
Battery storage is a fast-moving industry, and companies announce new projects all the time that are difficult to keep up with. Even these new projects are twice the total new systems put online last year in the entire country, so it is anybody's guess what will happen next year before these come online, or even later this year.
“A California Utility Announces 770 Megawatts of Battery Storage. That's a Lot.” InsideClimate News. Accessed May 12, 2020. https://insideclimatenews.org/campaign-archive/clean-economy-weekly/1828622.
“SCE Grows Clean Energy Portfolio, Enhances System Reliability With 770 Megawatts of New Energy Storage Capacity.” Business Wire, May 1, 2020. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200501005525/en/SCE-Grows-Clean-Energy-Portfolio-Enhances-System.
Image: "The Energy Storage Path to a Clean California." T&DWorld. Accessed May 12, 2020. https://www.tdworld.com/renewables/article/20973451/the-energy-storage-path-to-a-clean-california.