US utility breaks ground on 400MWh battery storage project | RenewEconomy

US utility breaks ground on 400MWh battery storage project

AES breaks ground on 400MWh battery-based energy storage project in California.


Fortune 500 US electric power distribution company AES Corporation has broken ground on a new 400MWh battery-based energy storage project which, upon completion, will be the largest battery system operating in the United States, and likely anywhere else in the world.

The AES Alamitos Energy Battery Storage Array is being built in Long Beach, California for the Alamitos Energy Center, which will be combined with a gas-fired, combined cycle, air-cooled power plant with the capacity to power millions of homes and businesses.

Together, the natural gas and battery storage project are part of a larger modernisation and replacement program intended to supersede the existing AES Alamitos Generating Station.

The project also falls under a larger US$2 billion (AU$2.87 billion) repowering initiative in Long Beach intended to replace ageing natural gas peakers with a combination of combined-cycle gas capacity and battery energy storage.

The new energy storage facility in Long Beach will provide up to 400MWh of storage to ensure power flexibility and reliability for local Southern California Edison (SCE) customers. The project will also go a long way to helping California meet its target of achieving 100% clean energy by 2045.

Further, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, the new energy storage array will “dwarf” the largest currently-operational battery installation in the United States, the 40MW Vesta Energy Storage project in San Diego County, California.

However, there are larger projects in the US pipeline, including Vistra Energy Corp.’s 300 MW/1,200 MWh Vistra Moss Landing Energy Storage system, which will be built near Santa Cruz, California.

Originally intended as a way to provide on-demand power at times of peak demand, the AES Alamitos Energy Battery Storage Array will nevertheless also support a larger program of grid modernisation, while also helping to increase the integration of renewable energy sources while lowering costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“California’s goals for a cleaner, more sustainable energy future are fundamentally changing the use and design of the electric grid,” said Ken Zagzebski, President of AES Southland.

“We’re constructing a state-of-the-art energy storage system with Fluence that will help the state integrate more renewable power, employ the highest efficiency technology and focus on energy performance for SCE and its customers.”

“Energy storage is our most flexible resource. It can charge or discharge virtually instantaneously and helps us to maximize our use of renewable energy on the grid,” said Colin Cushnie, Vice President Power Supply for Southern California Edison.

“Projects such as this signal a new direction for how we can meet our customers’ need for reliable energy with a clean mix of resources.”

Fluence, a utility-scale energy storage technology joint venture between AES and industrial giant Siemens, will provide its Advancion 5 batteries and control systems for the project.

“Alamitos energy storage will stand as the first of a new generation of energy storage procured as stand-alone alternatives to new gas plants. It represents a whole new way to think about capacity and reliability,” said John Zahurancik, Chief Operating Officer for Fluence.

“Its size, flexibility and long duration stand as a benchmark, and showcase energy storage as a mainstream option for peaking power and grid support. Energy storage market growth and innovation can only accelerate from here, and we will continue to partner with industry leaders like AES and Southern California Edison as together we transform the way we power our world.”

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