- On Wednesday, Southern California Edison (SCE) unveiled its new 8 megawatt, 32 megawatt-hour, lithium ion battery storage system. It is the biggest battery project in North America and one of the biggest in the world.
- The utility will use the project to begin testing the costs and impacts of battery storage in conjunction with variable generation. The battery system is located in California’s Tehachapi Mountains, where 4.5 gigawatts of installed wind capacity, much of it already in service, is expected to be generating by the end of 2016.
- The $53.5 million battery system will have 608,832 of the same battery cells used in GM’s Chevrolet Volt and be housed in a 6,300 square-foot building at a substation on SCE’s 66-kilovolt Antelope-Bailey transmission line. LG Chem provided the batteries for the SCE battery system and ABB provided the electronics.
This project follows SCE’s 50-megawatt call for energy storage proposals in 2013. It is the utility's first major step toward meeting the California Public Utilities Commission-imposed mandate requiring it to have 560 megawatts of grid scale storage by 2020, including 290 utility-owned megawatts.
The costs of storage are dropping and will drop further as more storage comes online, SCE Director of Advanced Technology Doug Kim told Greentech Media. There are many ways utilities can use it, including grid stabilization, smoothing, shifting, frequency regulation, decreasing transmission losses, and voltage support. Kim said the new system will give SCE needed experience in using storage with variable renewables.
Some question the efficacy of energy storage at current levels of renewables integration. Germany’s grid operators still find it too expensive in competition with new transmission that can deliver geographically dispersed resources, according to a Citigroup report. The report found that Germany won't require storage until renewables double to a penetration of 45% to 50%.