Big batteries are getting huge: California plan for 1500MW/6000MWh battery | RenewEconomy

Big batteries are getting huge: California plan for 1500MW/6000MWh battery

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Vistra Corp looks to expand battery system in California to a world-leading 1,500MW with four hours of energy storage.

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Texas-based energy company Vistra Corp has reportedly been granted permission to expand an already under construction battery storage system alongside a gas-fired power plant to provide up to 1,500MW, or 6,000MWh of energy storage.

Vistra Corp announced back in May plans to expand the size of the battery energy storage system at its Moss Landing natural gas-fired power plant site in Moss Landing, California.

After entering into a 10-year resource adequacy agreement with Californian utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and, subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Vistra Corp hoped to develop a second phase.

This would have seen the development of two Moss Landing energy storage projects – a 300MW/1,200MWh Phase 1 battery storage plant, and a 100MW/400MWh second phase.

According to reporting by S&P Global Market Intelligence, however, though not yet backed up by official word on Vistra Corp’s website, the company has received approval to develop an additional 1,200MW worth of battery storage across four 300MW battery blocks.

The revised expansion was revealed through planning details acquired from the Monterey County Planning Commission’s planned meeting for July 29, however the Commission has not published its minutes for the meeting.

According to S&P, though, the Commission approved the planned expansion, meaning that Vistra’s eventual Moss Landing storage project would easily top the list of America’s largest battery storage systems, and the world’s, as well.

The first 300MW phase is planned for completion by the end of 2020, and the previously announced 100MW/400MWh expansion some time in 2021.

No word yet, understandably, on the timeline for this newly revealed battery storage expansion. According to S&P, quoting Vistra President and CEO Curtis Morgan speaking in an email, the expansion will proceed “should market and economic conditions support it.”

“With this new permit in place, Vistra is working on the related infrastructure upgrades so that we will be able to move quickly when opportunities to add additional storage capacity arise,” Morgan reportedly added.

The development of what amounts to the United States’ first gigawatt scale battery storage facility – combined with PG&E’s own 182.5MW/730MWh Elkhorn Battery Energy Storage Facility, which will be built alongside Moss Landing – serves as a dramatic highlight of the strength of battery storage in the US.

So strong is the growth of battery storage in the United States that even the Trump Government’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) – which vacillates between towing the Trump party line and some measure of independent realism – published figures in July showing that US large-scale battery storage capacity had increased from only 59MW in 2010 to 351MW by 2015 and, as of the end of 2018 (the EIA’s most recent reliable figures) had increased to 869MW/1,236MWh.

Development of new energy storage projects has similarly been high this year – even despite the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic – following on from an impressive 523MW installed in 2019, which included a fourth quarter deployment record of 186.4MW/364.2MWh.

Moreover, according to the US Energy Storage Monitor report published earlier this year by analysts Wood Mackenzie and the US Energy Storage Association, the US energy storage market is expected to expand from an annual deployment of 523 MW in 2019 to 7.3 GW in 2025. 2020 similarly got off to a solid start, deploying nearly 100MW of capacity, though only time will tell just how much of an impact on deployment the global COVID-19 pandemic – and the United States’ botched response – will have on 2020 energy storage figures.

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