NextEra Energy Resources LLC has connected a 115-MW lithium-ion battery storage system to its existing 131.2-MW Blythe Solar II facility in eastern Riverside County, Calif., which forms part of one of the world’s largest emerging solar-plus-storage stations.
The competitive generation arm of NextEra Energy Inc. synchronized the storage system with the grid in January, according to a recent status change report filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (ER16-632). Southern California Edison Co. is purchasing the output from the solar farm and the storage project under a long-term power purchase agreement.
The agreement is one of several existing solar contracts with the Edison International utility subsidiary for output from the sprawling photovoltaic complex outside Blythe, Calif., in the Sonoran Desert to which NextEra is adding four-hour battery systems in 2021. NextEra has agreements with SCE to add another 115 MW at its Blythe Solar III system and 230 MW at its adjacent McCoy Solar Energy Project. It also has a 15-year contract with PG&E Corp.’s operating business, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., for 63 MW of storage at the Blythe Solar 110 Project (Blythe Solar I) project.
NextEra’s battery buildout highlights a breakthrough period for the technology, with power plant developers planning to add as much as 15 GW of energy storage between 2021 and 2023, S&P Global Market Intelligence data shows. Energy storage is considered a critical piece of decarbonization efforts in California and across the United States.
Later this year, the multiphase, contiguous Blythe and McCoy site will feature 532 MW of energy storage charging on 761.6 MW of solar generation, according to Market Intelligence data, making it by far the largest such complex in the United States.
In total, NextEra has long-term contracts to bring online 1,646 MW of energy storage in 2021 and 2022, largely four-hour systems at new and existing solar farms in the U.S. West, the company showed in an investor presentation in January. Another 955 MW of three- and four-hour storage projects are under contract to start up in 2023-2024. By comparison, NextEra had agreements to add 20 MW of battery storage in 2019 and 2020.