California steadily moves to decarbonize its economy. As a result of which smokestacks at gas-fired electric power stations are idle and the plants are largely mothballed. It’s great news for all that these dirty, pollution-emitting power plants are shutting down slowly, but more extraordinary news is that the world’s largest battery-storing excess energy from renewable sources is going to be constructed at one of these places.
Yes, the retired Moss Landing Power Plant over in Monterey Bay is going to have a new life as a massive battery energy storage facility that is currently under construction. It is expected to become the biggest battery storage project in the world upon completion. Vistra Energy is developing the project in two phases under separate resource adequacy agreements with PG&E.
Construction is currently underway on phase one of the project which consist a 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery, with another 100-megawatt battery to come online by 2021. Vistra Energy is developing the project with PG&E. The phase one project i.e. 300 MW battery energy system will be capable of holding 1,200MWh of electricity. The batteries will have a discharge duration of four hours. Coupled with another 100 MW battery storage system, together they will be able to discharge enough electricity to power roughly 300,000 California homes when energy demand outstrips supply.
Some more good news is that these aren’t the only super-sized batteries that will soon be operating in the Bay Area. Another similar project is scheduled to begin feeding into California’s electric grid in mid-2021.
Driven by technological advances and steeply falling prices, facilities are being built with storage systems that can hold enough renewable energy to power hundreds of thousands of homes. However, California is currently the global leader in the effort to balance the intermittency of renewable energy in electric grids with high-capacity batteries, but the rest of the world is also following suit.
The mass deployment of storage could overcome one of the biggest obstacles to renewable energy — its cycling between oversupply when the sun shines or the wind blows, and shortage when the sun sets, or the wind drops. “Energy storage is actually the true bridge to a clean-energy future,” says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association.
In California, falling battery prices, coupled with the state’s aggressive push toward a carbon-free electrical grid by 2045, have led to a packed pipeline of storage projects. In the U.S., a record 1.2GW of storage have been installed so far this year, according to Wood MacKenzie.
Despite relatively low durations for systems deployed, FTM MWh deployments beat the previous record set by nearly 200%. “Energy storage deployments continue to grow, despite the economic downturn and COVID-related slowdowns,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, U.S. Energy Storage Association CEO. The signs are pointing toward an unprecedented increase in energy storage in the coming months, moving us closer toward achieving our carbon-free grid by 2045.
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