Tesla in talks for really, really big battery (gigawatt scale) in California

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Proposed Tesla big battery in California will be more than 8 times bigger than the current world’s biggest in South Australia. And there’s more.

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It seems Australia will not be host to the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery storage installation for much longer: Tesla is talking to California utility PG&E for a battery plant with more than eight times the storage of its big battery in South Australia.

Keen readers may recall that Tesla boss Elon Musk, in his last earnings call, alluded to a potential “gigawatt hour” battery storage installation, far bigger than the 100MW/129MWh battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve that has so captured the world’s attention.

It turns out that this gigawatt hour battery could be installed at the Moss Landing sub station in California, according to a regulatory filing submitted by the local utility PG&E. 

This table above suggests that PG&E is in talks with Tesla for a 182MW battery with four hours of storage, so 720MWh, although the detailed documents reportedly show that it could be up to 6 hours, so 1,100MWh.

And it is not the only one. PG&E is also talking to Dynergy about a 300MW battery with four hours of storage at a nearby transmission location, along with two other big battery storage projects with Hummingbird Energy (75MW, four hours), and Micronoc (10MW behind the meter, four hours).

Interestingly for Australian readers, where the government is proposing and supporting a series of massive pumped hydro projects (Snowy 2.0 and Tasmania’s battery of the nation), PG&E says it considers battery storage to be a cheaper alternative to “traditional” solutions like pumped hydro.

“Energy storage plays an increasingly important role in California’s clean energy future,” it says.

“And while it has been a part of PG&E’s power mix for decades – starting with the Helms Pumped Storage Plant in the 1980’s – recent decreases in battery prices are enabling energy storage to become a competitive alternative to traditional solutions.

“As a result, we believe that battery energy storage will be even more significant in enhancing overall grid reliability, integrating renewables, and helping customers save energy and money.”

PG&E says the Tesla battery would address local capacity requirements and will participate in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) markets, providing energy and ancillary services.

That’s the same role t has been playing in the South Australia market, where it has helped slash the cost of grid services because it was able to smash the cartel previously formed by gas generators.

All the projects are located in an area that spans from Silicon Valley to the state’s central coast, and all the projects would be located around Moss Landing in the South Bay area.

The proposals from PG&E came in response to the state’s mandate that it have 1.3GW of storage in place by 2020, as California moves to a higher share of renewables. These project proposals result from a tender.

If approved by the state regulator, CPUC, PG&E says the first of the proposed projects is scheduled to come on-line by the end of 2019, with the other projects scheduled to come on-line by the end of 2020.

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6 Comments
  1. Charles 3 months ago

    Interesting to see that PG&E calls battery storage cheaper than pumped hydro. The equation I heard was that for less than 4 hours of storage, batteries were cheaper; for more than 4 hours of storage, pumped hydro was cheaper. There are probably a lot more variables to it that alter the balance (e.g. cost of construction) but I’m sure that, for California, there are going to be a hell of a lot more suitable locations for a battery than for a hydro dam. The battery can be located virtually anywhere, in a location where it will be the most use to the Californian grid.

    • Peter F 3 months ago

      That’s the key Charles, location and efficiency. In many cases in Australia and California, batteries in substations or behind the meter can reduce investment in grid reinforcement because they can be placed near the load and be recharged off-peak and or store distributed generation for re-use locally without going anywhere near the HV transmission grid. For the foreseeable future 2-3 hours storage and a bit of demand response will enable most grids to able to get to 60-70% renewables. After that it is a question of whether new technology batteries, smart car charging, renewable fuel combustion engines/gas turbines or pumped hydro is the final piece of the puzzle

    • Treadly 3 months ago

      The Australian experience has been less about storage and more about stability of the grid. Batteries can ramp up in milliseconds when normal generation drops off suddenly, and as mentioned in the article, in South Australia prevented cartel behaviour from creating artificial shortages at critical times.

      • DoRightThing 3 months ago

        Yes, at gridscale, a 100MWh battery really functions as a capacitor to absorb sharp fluctuations and almost eliminate price spikes which can reach $14,000 per MWh.
        Acting as a real battery to provide energy for days during low wind or sun will come later. It is inevitable.

      • Joris75 2 months ago

        You don’t need batteries to break up such cartels. A gas generator would work fine too, and would be cheaper than a battery. (Even cheaper would be simply to identify the mechanism of the cartel and then prosecute the cartel participants.)

    • Jamie Blank 2 months ago

      It’s the leftist narrative encountering paradoxes. Tesla Lithium batteries will not save the world, Vanadium batteries will… and the leftists don’t own the vanadium… lol lol lol… which is why they’ve turned on their demigod Musk and started to create fake tweets to make him look like a pedophile lover.

      You really need to stop with the leftist dogma and open your mind chuq; you’re a smart fella, although, your 140 IQ is suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

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