More than twice the size of the largest battery system currently operating in the United States, the AES Alamitos Energy Battery Storage Array in Long Beach, Calif., signals much bigger things soon to come for electrochemical energy storage on U.S. power grids.
This first 100-MW/400-MWh phase of the system, on which owner AES Corp. recently broke ground, is underpinned by a 20-year contract with Southern California Edison Co. starting in December 2020. Relying on lithium-ion batteries, the system could eventually triple in size with its permit to expand to 300 MW.
Among contracted U.S. battery storage projects, the Alamitos array is surpassed by Vistra Energy Corp.’s 300-MW/1,200 MWh Vistra Moss Landing Energy Storage system, near Santa Cruz, Calif., which has a 20-year agreement for the entire installation with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., or PG&E. Co-located at another major combined-cycle gas plant, Vistra’s Moss Landing CC, the project is also scheduled to start operations in December 2020.
Planned to come online at the same time and in the same place is the PG&E Corp. subsidiary’s 182.5-MW Tesla Moss Landing Battery Energy Storage Project (Elkhorn), an approved utility-owned project to be supplied by Tesla Inc. Other major utility-scale battery projects, some coupled with solar farms, are planned around the country, including in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, New York and Utah.
While the PG&E projects could see delays, or even cancellations, related to the utility’s ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructuring process, batteries could ultimately satisfy “a substantial portion of U.S. peak capacity needs,” the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL, concluded in a new report, “The Potential for Battery Energy Storage to Provide Peaking Capacity in the United States.” Assuming current conditions and demand patterns on the U.S. grid, the analysis identified a practical energy storage peak power potential of about 70,000 MW. That includes approximately 28,000 MW from four-hour battery storage arrays, 8,000 MW from six-hour storage systems and 34,000 MW from eight-hour storage projects.