Pairing renewable energy power plants with energy storage is a trend of increasing importance as the cost of energy storage declines. Battery storage systems are emerging as one of the potential solutions to increase system flexibility, due to their unique capability to quickly absorb, hold, and then release electricity.
Unlike conventional storage systems, such as pumped hydro storage, batteries have the advantage of geographical and sizing flexibility and can therefore be deployed closer to the location where the additional flexibility is needed and can be easily scaled.
Witnessing the flexibility and the ability to be scaled at a faster pace, a battery storage facility near Monterey Bay in California, has completed an expansion. Yes, we are talking about Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility, owned by Vistra Crop.
Phase I of the 300 MW /1,200 megawatt-hours lithium-ion battery storage project was successfully completed and began operations in December 2020. Whereas, Phase II has added an additional 100 MW of capacity bringing it to the total capacity of 400 megawatts/1,600 megawatt-hours, thus making it the largest of its kind in the World. The battery system is now storing power and releasing it to California’s grid when it is needed the most.
At this moment, 400 megawatts for a single battery storage project is huge but in just a few years, it will definitely turn out to be any average storage facility. Some recent announcements state there are at least a half-dozen other U.S. battery storage projects in development that are in the same super-size range.
One of them is scheduled to go online this year in Florida. Florida Power & Light Company has already started construction of FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center, a 409MW Battery Storage Facility, capable of powering the entire Disney World for approximately seven hours.
The Moss Landing Power Plant, which was earlier at a natural gas power plant is now helping to provide flexible and carbon-free power to a part of the California grid that sometimes struggles with reliability. The Golden State, which was already leading the nation with the highest utility-scale battery storage capacity, is still on top with a capacity of 1,438 MW.
“Essentially that battery is able to operate like a natural gas power plant for four hours,” said Joshua Rhodes, an energy researcher at the University of Texas at Austin. “In a place like California that’s really important because of how much solar California has, and the sun goes down every day. The plant is able to provide a lot of support to the grid to help it transition from it’s daytime solar into its night-time usage of other power plants.”
Curt Morgan, Vistra’s CEO, said that there is room on the Moss Landing site to build up to 1,500 megawatts of battery storage. He also has highlighted how batteries work well with intermittent energy sources like wind and solar by storing electricity during times when the supply exceeds demand and then discharging it at times when demand is high, but the sun may not be shining, and the wind may not be blowing.
Curt also mentioned that the construction of Phase-II was stated in September 2020 and was completed in July 2021, ahead of its schedule despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic COVID-19.
Last month, the Energy Information Administration issued a report saying the battery storage market is going through “a significant structural change” that is leading to the installation of projects that will add to 10,000 MW to the grid between 2021 and 2023, almost 10X the capacity that was online in 2019.
This growth has been made into reality because of a confluence of factors: Battery costs have tumbled and government policies are encouraging development. Batteries are well-suited to work alongside solar and wind energy. These signs are pointing toward an unprecedented increase in energy storage in the coming months, moving us closer to achieving our carbon-free grid by 2045.
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