A 100MW/400MWh big battery designed to replace a natural gas peaker plant in southern California looks likely to become the world’s first grid-scaleTesla Megapack energy storage system after the Palo Alto electric vehicle and battery maker was awarded the EPC contract for the project.
Project developer Strata Solar said this week it has signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract with Tesla for the state-of-the-art Megapack battery system, with construction scheduled to commence in July 2020.
Tesla unveiled its“megapack” battery in July of 2019 – a 1.5MW/3MWh unit designed to target the booming utility-scale energy storage market and, in particular, offer a sustainable alternative to gas “peaking” power plants.
The more energy-dense units also promised to make the installation of gigawatt-scale “power plants” four times faster than a fossil fuel plant, building on the company’s already impressive reputation for building the 100MW/129MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia In just 100 days.
All of these qualities – backed by the impressive performance of the trail-blazing Big Battery in S.A. – obviously appealed to Strata Solar, which was selected to build the Ventura County project as part of Southern California Edison’s bid to wean itself from the Aliso Natural Gas Storage facility without compromising the network’s reliability.
“(Tesla are) really one of very few suppliers that have a fully vertically integrated solution and have thought about safety and performance of software and hardware from the ground up,” said Strata Solar’s senior vice president of development, Josh Rogol, in comments to Greentech Media.
Strata Solar said in its own statement that the Ventura Energy Storage plant would provide reliable on-demand and zero-emissions power to around 80,000 homes and businesses in the County.
But it will also play a key role in helping to stabilise the local grid, which is challenged by diverse terrain, extreme weather and the planned retirement of old and inefficient gas plants along the coast.
According to the contract with SCE, the Ventura system will bid into California’s day-ahead markets, and can also make a set amount of emergency calls a year in the event of wildfires or other grid constraints.
“Ventura County is particularly vulnerable to energy supply shortfalls,” said Louise Lampara, Executive Director of CoLab Ventura County, in a joint statement with Strata Solar.
“Our residents and businesses need reliable energy to support our economy and quality of life – and Ventura Energy Storage is an essential part of the solution.”
Beyond these contractual obligations, however, the Ventura big battery will be free to generate revenue where it can, including in the ancillary services markets – a revenue stream that continues to prove highly lucrative for the owners of the Hornsdale Power Reserve.
So far, the project recently completed entitlements and finalised all necessary commercial agreements, with equity interest in the project scheduled to close in the second quarter.
“Ventura County has been an incredible partner on this Project,” Rogol said in a company statement, giving particular credit to the efforts to approve the project via a virtual Planning Administrative Hearing.
“We’d like to thank the County leadership, Planning Department staff and all the other agencies, including the City of Oxnard, for the support and efficient review of the Project. Your leadership is leading the way to a clean energy future.”
Ventura County CEO Mike Powers said he was excited to see the project moving forward, despite “the disruptions” currently gripping the world.
“The Project will help to ensure local energy reliability, and in the event of a Public Safety Power Shutoff the facility will convey stored energy to the grid, providing power to our local homes and businesses. This will help keep the lights on when some need it most. We appreciate these types of projects especially as we adopt strategies to stimulate our local economy following the economic impacts of COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, in Australia, there is no sign yet of a Megapack arriving on local shores. But there is speculation that they could be the front-running technology of choice for Neoen’s massive new big battery project near Geelong – dubbed the “Victoria big battery” – proposed to be sized at around 600MW.
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