Enel Green Power plans to deploy 1 GW of battery storage capacity across its new and existing renewables project in the U.S. over the next two years, the company announced Tuesday.
Enel just began constructing its first utility-scale hybrid project in North America, a 146 MW photovoltaic facility co-located with a 50 MW/75 MWh battery in Texas, scheduled to be operational by summer 2021.
As costs continue to drop, pairing storage with cheap renewables is "the engine of the energy transition," Georgios Papadimitriou, head of Enel Green Power North America, told Utility Dive. "So no wonder that many companies, in their plans, see huge growth potential," he added.
There are approximately 170 battery systems over 1 MW operating in the U.S., the largest of which — a 62.5 MW project in California — came online in June. Installations are being driven both by the falling costs of storage as well as clean energy goals, Mohit Chhabra, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate and clean energy program, previously told Utility Dive.
Developers across the U.S. are paying more attention to "hybrid" systems that co-locate battery storage and renewables. While around 4.6 GW of such projects are now online, three times more capacity is in development.
Enel's strategy includes plans to set up around 1 GW of utility-scale wind and solar projects in the U.S. and Canada annually through 2022, and evaluate the potential for paired storage on a case-by-case basis. That storage could provide added benefits, like bolstering grid reliability, as well as further monetizing energy production, the company said in a press release.
With the right investments, pairing renewables with cheap storage can turn them into controllable power plants, creating "a new future for the electricity system," according to Papadimitriou.
"[It] can provide capacity, it can provide energy at will, can provide ancillary services and can do basically almost all the things that you would like a utility-scale system to be able to do, both as an investor and as a grid operator," he added.
The Texas market has a lot of fundamentals required for storage projects, according to Papadimitriou — like the space to develop resources and increasing demand. The dropping costs of storage, the benefit of the investment tax credit and added revenues for other services presented a viable investment case. Over the next couple of years, the company plans to turn its attention to other markets, including PJM, he said.